All calories deliver the same amount of energy. But, the required calorie requirement per day varies in individuals and depends on certain factors such as age, gender, a desire to lose weight or gain weight, and a sedentary or physically active lifestyle.

Your body requires energy to survive and perform various functions. This energy is provided in the form of calories through the foods we eat. 

Factors that determine calorie requirement

  • Age: As age progresses calorie requirement falls
  • Gender: Men require more calories than women
  • Present weight status: If your current weight is less than normal, you will require a more calorie intake. Similarly, overweight people require fewer calories.
  • Height: Taller people require a higher intake of calories
  • Your level of physical activity every day: People who have a higher level of physical activity will need more calories than sedentary people due to the increased energy needed. A sedentary lifestyle includes only the physical activity of independent living.
  • Your body composition or overall general health:  If you are underweight, your calorie requirement will be more than if you were of normal weight.
  • Geographical position: Recommended calorie intake is more in the United States than in the United Kingdom, which is again higher than the requirement of Asians.
  • Certain hormonal conditions: People with hyperthyroidism require more calories because of their increased metabolic rate.
  • Certain medications: Steroids (glucocorticoids) increase your calorie need.
  • Hot weather: In the hot months of summer, your calorie requirement increases. This is because of the extra cardiovascular effort to pump extra blood to the skin to facilitate sweating in order to keep the body cool.
  • Fever: If you have a fever, your calorie requirement goes up for the same reason.

To know if you are of normal weight, you should find out your BMI with the help of the BMI calculator.

Defining lifestyle for calorie requirement

  • A sedentary lifestyle activity means a lifestyle that is associated with daily routine activities only.
  • A moderately active lifestyle means that comparable to walking 1.5 to 3 miles at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour.
  • A physically active lifestyle means that, equivalent to walking more than 3 miles at an average speed of 3 to 4 miles per hour

First, you need to read the calories in various foods to know the calorie content in fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, chicken, fish, eggs, milk, and beverages. This will help you to keep count of your calorie intake.

Daily calorie requirement to maintain weight

If your BMI is between 18.5 and 25, then your weight is within normal limits and you should maintain it as such.

You can do this by consuming calories in approximately the following limits. Calorie requirement is given with reference to age and lifestyle.

Going by the thumb rule, an average woman needs to eat about 2000 calories per day to maintain, while an average man needs 2500 calories to maintain weight.

For males by age

Young males between the ages of 18 to 30 years

  • Sedentary lifestyle – 2400 calories or slightly more
  • Moderately active – 2600   calories or slightly more
  • Physically active — 3000   calories

Middle-aged males between the ages of 31 to 50 years.

  • Sedentary — 2200 cals or slightly more.
  • Moderately active – 2400 cals or slightly more
  • Physically active – 2800 cals or slightly more.

Elderly males more than 50 years of age.

  • Sedentary2000 cals or slightly more
  • Moderately active – 2200 cals or slightly more
  • Physically active – 2400 cals or slightly more

For females by age

The following calorie estimates do not include women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Calorie requirement for women between the ages of 18 to 30 years

  • Sedentary – 1800 cals or slightly more
  • Moderately active – 2000 cals or slightly more
  • Physically active – 2400 cals

Women between 31 to 50 years

  • Sedentary—1800 cals
  • Moderately active – 2000 cals
  • Physically active – 2200 cals

Women more than 51 years of age

  • Sedentary – 1600 cals
  • Moderately active – 1800 cals
  • Physically active – 2000 to 2200 cals

Daily calorie requirement to lose weight

Weight loss should be gradual and ideally, you should lose weight at the rate of about one pound or roughly half a kilogram per week.

To lose one pound in one week, you require to reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories per day with reference to the calorie requirement to maintain the weight given above.

A little more physical activity will also be necessary. In short, your calorie loss should be more than your calorie intake.

Following the specially formulated diet to lose weight and incorporating these exercises for weight loss in your daily physical activity will be of paramount importance.

Daily calorie requirement to gain weight

If you are underweight with a BMI of 18.5 or less, you should consume more calories than you should burn.

If you want to gain about one pound per week, increase your calorie consumption by 500 calories per day with reference to the calorie requirement to maintain the weight given above. Increased calorie consumption should be by eating healthy foods.

Avoid eating junk food. Gaining or losing weight should be gradual and if required, medical advice should be sought. Any sudden increase or loss of weight can be due to some medical pathology.