How Many Calories Should I Consume Each Day?

Building healthy habits and being conscious of what you eat is the best way to lead a healthy lifestyle and achieve your goal weight. However, a lower body weight doesn’t always mean you’re in good health. It’s essential to have general knowledge of calorie intake in order to make healthy eating decisions. 

The Internet is full of diet ideas, suggestions, and plans. Some are science-based, while others are merely fads without research to back them up. At SABEResPODER, we know how important it is to understand caloric intake. When it comes to diets, you shouldn’t sacrifice your well-being or severely restrict your caloric intake just to lose weight. We prepared this guide to help you figure out how many calories you should consume per day. 

What are Calories?

Calories (kcal) are the units of energy provided by food. When ingested, calories become the fuel that allows you to study, work, move, and carry out life’s daily activities. Whatever goes unused is then converted into fat deposits, which are stored in your body in case you run out of food and need energy to continue functioning.

Consuming too many calories can become problematic when its storage as body fat exceeds the healthy limits for your body. A lack of calories resulting from poor or insufficient nutrition can also lead to health problems.

How Do I Calculate My Daily Calories?

Take the following factors into consideration when calculating the calories you should consume per day:

  • Age 
  • Physical traits 
  • Preexisting health conditions or illnesses 
  • Your level of physical activity

Your caloric intake should be evenly distributed throughout the day to reach your total estimated allowance. You shouldn’t consume the day’s calories at one big meal. This may affect blood sugar levels, cause stomach discomfort, and interfere with your ability to carry out your daily activities.

Average Value According to the WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) provides ranges to determine how many calories someone should consume in a day. According to the average value provided by the WHO, women should consume between 1,600 and 2,000 kcal per day and exercise at least 30 minutes daily. This percentage may vary depending on factors such as menopause, pregnancy, or age.

The recommended daily amount of calories that men should consume is 2,000 to 2,500 kcal, along with at least 30 minutes of daily exercise. If you’re thinking of going on a diet, remember to consult a physician and evaluate any pre-existing medical conditions beforehand.

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR) helps you understand how your body works and properly calculate your recommended daily caloric intake. The BMR is the amount of energy you need to perform basic functions such as breathing, synthesizing hormones, and regulating body temperature at rest. You can calculate your BMR by clicking here. Fill out information on the page and it will provide a calculated estimate.

Harris-Benedict formula

The Harris-Benedict formula is another method used to estimate an individual's BMR. This formula, which came into use around the 1920s, can be applied as follows: 

  • Women: [655 + (9.6 × weight in kg) ] + [ (1.8 × height in cm) - (4.7 × age)] × Activity factor
  • Men: [66 + (13.7 × weight in kg) ] + [ (5 × height in cm) - (6.8 × age)] × Activity factor

To estimate your “activity factor” use the following figures and definitions:

  • 1.2 if you’re sedentary or generally don’t do physical activities that burn a lot of calories. 
  • 1.375 if you get little or infrequent physical activity (light exercise or slow jogging 1 to 3 times a week).
  • 1.55 if you do moderate or medium-frequent physical activity with a medium-high degree of intensity (exercising consistently 3 to 5 times a week).
  • 1.725 if you do daily high-intensity physical activity (complex and intense exercise every day of the week).
  • 1.9 if you’re a professional athlete or perform any certified sports-level activity (daily high-intensity exercise for more than 3 hours).

Keep in mind: The activity factor refers to the physical activity you perform at the time of measurement. Calculating this factor correctly is important, as it may determine whether you should add or subtract exercise from your final calorie range. 

Mifflin-St. Jeor equation

In the 1990s, scientists Mark Mifflin and Sachiko St. Jeor developed another equation to determine daily caloric intake. This formula is based on the one above, but focuses on a simpler mathematical operation. 

These are the calculations you should perform: 

  • Women: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) - (5 × age in years) - 161
  • Men: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5

The result obtained should be divided or multiplied by the same coefficients in the Harris-Benedict formula that are related to your daily activity.

How Much Should I Eat According to My Age and Height?

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There are many ways to calculate how much you should eat every day. There’s no single range that applies to everyone. Everything depends on your needs and the eating habits you’ve developed. 

Below is a table that will help you calculate the approximate percentages of calories you should consume according to your gender, age, and lifestyle.

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Keep in mind: This table is just a reference and shouldn’t be used as the only way to determine caloric intake. In addition to using these formulas, we recommend consulting a specialist. 

How Many Calories a Day Should I Consume to Lose Weight?

Reducing your calorie intake is essential to losing weight. This is also known as a hypocaloric diet or being in a calorie deficit. A hypocaloric diet is low in calories. This forces the body to make use of stored energy reserves and leads to weight loss.

In order to lose weight you must decrease the number of calories you consume, but it’s also very important that these meals meet the following minimum criteria:  

  • Include lots of vegetables 
  • Avoid combining carbohydrates with starchy foods
  • Try to consume as little salt as possible 

Keep in mind: Hypocaloric diets can be a good way to lose weight and reach your ideal weight. We strongly advise consulting a nutrition specialist, too. They’ll give you the necessary instructions to stay healthy while dieting.

Tips to Reduce Calories

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In order to significantly reduce your calorie intake in a balanced way, it’s necessary to take certain tips into account so that weight loss doesn’t become the focus of your day in relation to your other obligations. Some tips are:

Avoid sugary drinks

High in calories and sugar, soft drinks, processed juices, and energy drinks are a big NO (at least temporarily) if you’re trying to decrease your calorie intake.

Say goodbye to junk food

Every calorie counts when you’re trying to lose weight. Try to eliminate sweets and snacks that are high in calories and low in nutritional value. Some examples: chocolate, potato chips, cookies, and processed fast foods. Consider swapping them for other foods that don’t negatively impact your health.

Avoid fried foods

To lose weight—and consume fewer calories— avoid fried foods, since they have a high level of saturated fats that can be harmful to your body. Instead, choose foods that are boiled or baked, which have far fewer calories and are more flavorful.

Substitute meat for fish

Fish is one of the healthiest and lowest-calorie foods that you can find at the supermarket. It’s calorie dense and is a good source of oils and fatty acids such as omega-3. These fatty acids help keep your heart healthy and your mind sharp.

Drink water

Staying hydrated is important for general well-being and health. It promotes a feeling of being satisfied which helps you avoid unhealthy, calorie-dense foods. Water helps you fight hunger pangs and avoid excessive snacking between meals. To help your body function to the best of its ability, you should drink at least 3 liters of water a day.

What a Weight Loss Diet Might Look Like

Many weight loss diets don’t take individual health concerns into account. Before starting a hypocaloric diet, we recommend taking stock of any chronic illnesses you might suffer and their side effects. To help you, we prepared a list of foods for you to plan breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a healthy, low-calorie way:

  • Breakfast: Start your day with a bowl of yogurt with sugar-free cereal, or a spinach omelet with whole wheat toast. Not an egg or dairy person? You might like a piece of whole wheat bread or toast with turkey or ham. If not, you can go for an oatmeal, banana, and strawberry smoothie.
  • Lunch: For lunch, you can choose between oven-roasted chicken paired with rice and vegetables, or grilled fish with vegetables au gratin. Soups and stews with cooked lentils and rice are also good options. 
  • Dinner: For dinner, you can opt for cream of zucchini or chicken soup. You can also have two slices of whole wheat toast with mozzarella cheese or eat a bowl of sugar-free cereal. 

Keep in mind: This list is just a reference. Always consult a specialist who can customize your diet plan with the foods that can best help you lose weight and lead a healthy lifestyle. 

How Many Calories a Day Should I Consume to Gain Weight?

If you’re looking to gain weight, the first thing you should know is that you can’t just eat whatever you want. Instead, follow a hypercaloric diet that focuses on a calorie surplus. This means that you will consume more calories than you burn in a day. To figure out how many calories you need, use the mathematical formulas above.

Tips for Increasing Calories

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To increase the amount of calories you consume in a day, you’ll have to increase your food intake while prioritizing nutrition. Among the main tips to increase calories and gain weight are: 

Increase portions gradually

This is essential to gaining weight. Increasing portion size means your body receives more calories at each meal. This leads to a greater chance that these calories are stored as fat in your body, which allows you to gain weight.

Count and calories 

Calorie counting is important whether you want to gain or lose weight. When it comes to gaining, tracking caloric intake is especially necessary to ensure that you consume more calories than you burn. This is very important if you’re combining diet with exercise. 

Consume dairy products 

Whole milk, cheeses, and other dairy products are a good source of healthy fats, proteins, and carbohydrates that will help you achieve your daily caloric goals. These foods can also contribute to building muscle mass when combined with physical activity.

Include pasta in your weekly meals

Rich in carbohydrates, pasta is a cornerstone food in a hypercaloric regimen and should be included in at least three of your weekly meals to achieve your calorie goals. 

Control your fluid intake before a meal

Drinking water or other liquids before eating can cause a sensation of feeling full. Keep this in mind when consuming liquids ahead of mealtime so you eat enough to get the necessary nutrients and calories your body needs. 

What a Weight Gain Diet Might Look Like

When followed incorrectly, high calorie diets can often cause more harm than good. While working to gain weight, you shouldn't consume food that can affect your blood sugar levels or put your heart at risk. At SABEResPODER we know you can increase your calorie intake safely. We put together a list of healthy meal options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner: 

  • Breakfast: Start the day with a plate of scrambled eggs and a side of tomato and onion with two slices of bread or toast. Another option is a bowl of cereal and a banana. You could also eat a big plate of fresh fruit. 
  • Lunch: Pasta with ground beef, or pasta carbonara are two excellent options for a high-calorie meal. Another option is chicken with mashed potatoes.
  • Dinner: You can have a ham and cheese sandwich for dinner or go for a protein-packed veggie omelet.

Meet Your Health Goals!

Whether you’re counting calories to lose or gain weight, doing it the healthy way should be your number one priority. Knowing how many calories you should consume per day will help you reach your ideal weight and prevent diseases that can be caused by being under or overweight. 

Consider using the PODERsalud membership to maintain your health. When you join, you’ll have access to unlimited online medical consultations, plus a host of healthcare discounts, all for $16.95 per month. If you have any questions about this membership or calorie counting, feel free to ask our team. Remember: SABEResPODER!