How much calories do you need per day?

Updated at: Feb 01, 2013
How much calories do you need per day?
Editorial Team
Weight ManagementWritten by: Editorial TeamPublished at: Feb 01, 2013

Calories are a measure of the energy released by food as it is digested by the human body.


The calorie intake needed per day depends on 

  • Age
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Activity level

If you are thin and underweight, then you need more calories than you burn daily. On the other hand if you are overweight or obese, then you need to intake less number of calories than you burn. People who consume more calories than they burn off in normal daily activity or during exercise are more likely to be overweight or obese. 


Recommended daily calorie intake (in calorie)


            Age (in yrs)               10 – 20                   20 – 60  
            Male                 2200 – 2800        2500 - 2700
            Female             1800 – 2100        1850 - 2000


Caloric value of major nutrients  


Fat:                       1gram = 9 calories
Protein:                 1gram = 4 calories
Carbohydrates:       1gram = 4 calories
Alcohol:                 1gram = 7 calories 


Carbohydrates are a major source of energy and should account for 50 percent to 60 percent of calories consumed each day. 


Carbohydrates are found in whole grain cereals, flour, bread, rice, corn, oats, potatoes, and legumes.


Fat should account for 30 percent or less of the calories consumed daily, with saturated fats accounting for no more than 10 percent of the total fat intake. Excess calories from protein and carbohydrates are converted to and stored as fat. Even if you are eating mostly "fat free" foods, excess consumption will result in additional body fat. Fat calories in food are readily stored, while it takes energy to transform protein and carbohydrates to body fat. The only proven way to reduce body fat is to burn more calories than one consumes. 


Saturated Fat

  • Tends to increase blood cholesterol levels. Most saturated fats tend to be solid at room temperature, with the exception of tropical oils.
  • Found mostly in meat and dairy products, as well as some vegetable oils, such as coconut and palm oils (tropical oils). Butter is high in saturated fat, while margarine tends to have more unsaturated fat.


Polyunsaturated Fat

  • Tends to lower blood cholesterol levels
  • Found mostly in plant sources. (Sunflower, soybean, corn, cottonseed)


Monounsaturated Fat

  • Tends to lower LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol)
  • Found in both plant and animal products, such as olive oil, canola oil, peanut oil, and so on.

Protein should account for 10 percent to 20 percent of the calories consumed each day. Protein is essential to the structure of red blood cells, fo...


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