How many calories should I eat a day?

What are calories?

How many calories do you need?
Eating a big breakfast could help with weight reduction and maintenance. Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Wed 13 December Sign in Log in with your Medical News Today account to create or edit your custom homepage, catch-up on your opinions notifications and set your newsletter preferences. I had tried losing weight on my own a few times but it was too hard to count calories and weigh out all of my food what a time sucker! If you are counting calories, the label will help you keep track.

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The estimates are for a person weighing pounds. Keeping calorie intake within certain limits will not ensure a healthful diet, as different foods have different effects on the body.

After consuming carbohydrates carbs , insulin levels will rise significantly more compared with eating fats or protein. Some carbs in particular get into the bloodstream in the form of sugar, or glucose, much faster than others.

Refined flour is a fast carb, while legumes are slower. Slow-release carbs are better for body weight control and overall health than fast carbs. A calorie meal of fish or meat, salad, and some olive oil, followed by fruit, is more healthful and will stave off hunger for longer than a calorie snack of popcorn with butter or toffee.

To work out how many calories you need, you need to know your basal metabolic rate and an activity factor. To calculate your BMR automatically, follow this link and enter your details into the calculator.

This will give a rough idea of the daily calorie intake you need to keep your body weight where it is. The result is still not perfect, as the equation does not take into account the ratio of muscle to fat. A very muscular person needs more calories, even when resting. As with calories requirements, an ideal body weight depends on several factors, including age, sex, bone density, muscle-fat ratio, and height.

Body mass index BMI is one way of working out what a person should weigh. If you know your height and weight, you can use this calculator to find out your BMI. Imagine a top athlete who weighs pounds, or 91 kilograms kg and is 6 feet, or 1 metre m and 83 centimeters cm tall. They may have the same BMI as an inactive person of the same height. The athlete is not overweight, but the inactive person quite possibly is. Researchers have found that many people whose waist circumference is less than half their height have a longer life expectancy.

People with a smaller waist to height size have been found to have a lower risk of diabetes , cardiovascular disease, stroke , and other health conditions that are related to obesity. An adult male who is 6 feet cm tall should have a waist that does not exceed 36 inches 91 cm. An adult female who is 5 feet 4 inches cm tall should have a waist that does not exceed 32 inches 81 cm.

This measurement may be more accurate than BMI at determining a healthy weight. However, it is limited as it does not properly measure an individual's total body fat percentage, or muscle-to-fat ratio. Some of these are safe and effective and help people lose weight and keep it off in the long term. Others are hard to adhere to, or when the person stops following the diet they put weight back on quickly.

To find out more, see our article on the "Eight Most Popular Diets. The rankings for these diets were based on how many articles mentioned them favorably, how popular they were generally and which ones received the most positive feedback. More important than counting calories is to eat a healthful and well-balanced diet that you can sustain long-term, for longer than 6 months.

Equally important is to be physically active and to balance the calories consumed with the energy used each day. Article last updated by Yvette Brazier on Mon 12 February All references are available in the References tab.

Estimated calorie needs per day, by age, sex, and physical activity level. What we know and what we need to know. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 55 7 , Calculate your body mass index. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights. European Society of Endocrinology. Sleep loss affects your waistline [Press release].

Fitness advice for wheelchair users. Using plate mapping to examine portion size and plate composition for large and small divided plates. Eating Behavior, 15 4 , MNT is the registered trade mark of Healthline Media. Any medical information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for informed medical advice and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.

Privacy Terms Ad policy Careers. Five years ago I lost 62 lbs on NS, but over the years I gained back 38 lbs. Now I am back on the system and intend to stay until I reach my goal weight. My co-worker is using Jenny Craig but it was just to cost prohibitive for me. I've tried her meals and honestly didn't think they were as tasty as Nutrisystems are. Just 65 Pounds Left To Go 4 out of 5 stars. I am on my 10th day on Nutrisystem and I absolutely love it!

The food is great and a lot better tasting than Jenny Craig. I have lost 8 pounds so far and am really excited. I have 65 more to go to reach my goal weight. The website is full of good information and tons of motivation which I need and love!! Anyone can do this diet. At 32 years old, I had surpassed pounds and went on a diet with Slimfast Shakes and low fat dinners that I made.

I was single at the time and had the time to prepare my own meals and exercise vigorously for about an hour 5 days a week.

Needless to say, I did lose 40 lbs in 3 months, but it was hard work and I was always hungry. I'm now 40 years old now and after several failed starts I decided to give Nutrisystem a go. Being married with 2 children, my time is much more limited now. Nutrisystem is perfect for this reason as I don't have to count calories — it's all done online for me.

The meals are reasonably good and you can pretty much choose the meals you want. The first month I went with the default menu and selected the meals I liked best for the second and third month. I'm following the menu strictly and my caloric intake is around calories a day.

All in all, I have been on the diet for 42 days and I have lost 23 lbs and 3 inches off my waist! This program is well worth it!

I needed to go on a diet. I had gained 25 pounds over the last year and I could not fit into any of my clothes. I did not want to go buy a whole new wardrobe when I already had a perfectly good one. With Nutrisystem I have access to a website that allows me to track my weight loss progress. I enjoy logging onto the website and seeing how far I have come. I also get support from the website.

I enjoy almost all of the foods Nutrisystem has to offer. They all taste pretty good. The best part of Nutrisystem is that I have lost weight with a program that is extremely easy to follow. I liked many aspects of the diet; however, I thought the food portions were too small.

Maybe I'm too used to supersizing everything? The Nutrisystem plan does work though. When I was using the plan I lost about fifteen pounds. The plan was also very easy to follow. I did not have to weigh out food. I did not have to count calories. I did not have to figure out which foods to eat to lose weight. I just had to follow the instructions that came with the plan and eat the food that the plan provided me with. When I joined the Nutrisystem plan I also received 24 hour access to the Nutrisystem web site where I could chat with someone for support daily if I needed to.

Haven't used it, but its nice to know its there for me. The food was just as tasty as pre-cooked frozen meals you buy in the grocery store. I enjoyed many of the foods that Nutrisystem offers. The desserts and snacks were delicious. The dinners are done very nicely with foods that are very tasteful and full of flavor. The breakfasts were good I especially liked the pancakes. The lunches were also good. The thing I did not like about Nutrisystem was that the portions of foods they provided were too small.

The program is extremely easy to use. Any man can join the program and expect to lose weight easily. I joined the plan and Nutrisystem sent me dieting tools, instructions on how to use the plan and great tasting foods. I also have access to Nutrisystems website. The website includes chat rooms, blogs, and group discussions about dieting. The website is a great place for me to go to receive support. I have not felt this energetic in awhile.

I now have the energy to get through the day without feeling so tired. I even have enough energy to work out. Without the Nutrisystem plan I would still be overweight, unhealthy and unhappy. Without Nutrisystem I would still be eating unhealthy and gaining weight instead of losing weight.

I joined Nutrisystem two and a half months ago. When I first started the program it was an adjustment I had to get used to. I was used to overeating all of the time. With Nutrisystem the food portions are designed to be just right so a person gets the nutrition he needs and still loses weight. I had to get used to eating the right sized portion instead of overeating. Once I adjusted to eating differently the plan started to really work.

The plan is easy to follow and comes with instructions on how to do so. I am losing weight easily. I am feeling healthier every day. I am enjoying the foods I am eating, and I am enjoying the compliments I am receiving on my weight loss.

I joined the Nutrisystem plan because I knew I was headed in the wrong direction with my body weight. I decided to start going to a gym.

However, I did not know how to start eating right. I pick the food I want to eat from the menu that Nutrisystem provides. Nutrisystem also shows me how to plan what to eat for the day. The foods are really good. I love some of them, like most of them and only disliked one or two items out of the whole menu.

One of my favorite foods from Nutrisystem is their Mexican style tortilla soup, it's great. As far as diets go Nutrisystem is a great plan. When I was on the Nutrisystem plan it worked for me.

I lost weight, learned to eat healthier and felt great. Nutrisystem is also extremely easy to follow. The plan comes with easy to follow instructions on how to use the program to work for you. When I was on the plan my wife and children would eat their food while I ate my Nutrisystem food. Her food was hard to resist; however, I stuck to the Nutrisystem plan because their food also tastes good.

I ate good food every day. Foods such as blueberry pancakes, blueberry muffins, honey mustard pretzel sticks, beef stew and broiled beef patties. Nutrisystem truly does go to great lengths to help make losing weight easy. I wanted to lose 20 pounds, but ended up shaving off 30 pounds thanks to Nutrisystem. Nutrisystem is the best diet plan I have ever tried. I have tried to diet a few other times in my life but I could not stick to the diet.

With Nutrisystem I do not have to learn recipes. I do not have to learn to eat better foods. I do not have to count calories. I do not have to weigh food. With Nutrisystem all I have to do is follow the instructions and eat the foods Nutrisystem supplies. When I joined Nutrisystem I was afraid the food would taste terrible as I had read a review online saying so. Of course there are a few foods that do not suit my taste such as the eggs frittata; however, most of the foods are delicious.

For breakfast I can eat pancakes, blueberry pancakes, cinnamon buns or oatmeal. There are many other breakfast foods to choose from also. For lunch I can eat hearty minestrone soup or choose from many other menu items.

Nutrisystem also offers great dinners, snacks and desserts. Following the Nutrisystem plan is easy and I am seeing results. I wish the weight melted off easier, but it took a while putting it on and so I expect it'll take time getting it off too. I had tried losing weight on my own a few times but it was too hard to count calories and weigh out all of my food what a time sucker! I always got discouraged about losing the weight.

With Nutrisystem I have not became discouraged because Nutrisystem makes the plan so simple to follow. While it's not fresh food the meals are frozen , it still just as great tasting. Speaking frankly, I was really afraid that I would hate the Nutrisystem food. Any data you provide will be primarily stored and processed in the United States, pursuant to the laws of the United States, which may provide lesser privacy protections than European Economic Area countries.

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Sign up for a free Medical News Today account to customize your medical and health news experiences. Calories are listed in the nutritional information on all food packaging. Many weight loss programs center around reducing the intake of calories. This MNT Knowledge Center article focuses on calories associated with food and drink, as well as the way the human body uses energy. MNT covers what a calorie is, how many calories humans need each day, and how to get calories in a way that benefits overall health.

Most people only associate calories with food and drink, but anything that contains energy has calories. The terms "large calorie" and "small calorie" are often used interchangeably. The calorie content described on food labels refers to kilocalories. A calorie chocolate bar actually contains , calories. The United States government states that the average man needs 2, kcal per day and the average woman needs 2, kcal per day.

Not everybody needs the same number of calories each day. People have different metabolisms that burn energy at different rates, and some people have more active lifestyles than others. Here is a more detailed breakdown from the U. The human body needs calories to survive. Without energy, the cells in the body would die, the heart and lungs would stop, and the organs would not be able to carry out the basic processes needed for living. People absorb this energy from food and drink. If people consumed only the number of calories needed every day, they would probably have healthy lives.

Calorie consumption that is too low or too high will eventually lead to health problems. The number of calories in food tells us how much potential energy they contain.

It is not only calories that are important, but also the substance from which the calories are taken. As an example, here is the breakdown of how a person would get calories from one cup of large eggs , weighing g:. As people get older, they tend to get fewer of their daily calories from fast foods. Fast foods make up only 6 percent of the daily calorie intake of older adults. However, with the number of highly calorific meals served in restaurants or aimed at younger individuals, it is important that people pay close attention to where they get their calories.

Researchers at Tel Aviv University wrote in the journal Obesity that a large breakfast containing approximately kcal is ideal for losing weight and lowering the risk of diabetes , heart disease , and high cholesterol.

A large breakfast may help to control body weight. When people eat matters as much as what they eat. Empty calories are those that provide energy but very little nutritional value. The parts of food that provide empty calories contain virtually no dietary fiber, amino acids, antioxidants , dietary minerals, or vitamins.

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