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Understand calories and your daily requirement

  • September 20, 2021

Calories in food provide energy in the form of heat for our bodies, allowing them to function. This means that we must consume a certain number of calories just to live.

The calories we consume provide our bodies with the energy they require to live and stay healthy. Everything we do, whether it's sitting on the couch or running a marathon, requires energy in the form of calories.

We will gain weight if we consistently consume more energy than we need. We will lose weight, fat, and muscle mass if we consume insufficient energy. Hence, intake must be as per our body's requirements.

Fast facts about calories consumption

  • Age, size, height, gender, lifestyle, and overall general health are all factors that influence calorie intake recommendations.
  • Ideally, adult females should consume 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day on average. It's 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day for adult men.
  • The brain consumes approximately 20% of the energy consumed by the human body.
  • Age, bone density, and muscle-fat ratio are all factors that influence ideal calorific intake.

Calories by food group:

The fact that calorie count alone does not determine whether a food is nutritious contributes to some of the confusion about calories. If a food contains vitamins, minerals, fibre or protein, its calories have more nutritional value for your body; these foods are sometimes referred to as "nutrient-dense". If a food lacks nutrition, it is referred to as an "empty calorie" or "energy-dense" food; it contains calories (or energy) but few nutrients.

The three macronutrients do not provide the same number of calories. Carbohydrates, protein and fat contain 4, 4 and 9 calories per gram respectively.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 recommend that your diet should be divided into the following percentages:

  • Protein content ranges from 10% to 35%.
  • Carbohydrate content ranges from 45 to 65%.
  • Fat content ranges from 20% to 35%.


Daily needs calculation

To calculate how many calories, you require, you must first determine your basal metabolic rate and an activity factor.


Basal metabolic rate

The Mifflin-St. Jeor equation is a useful tool for calculating BMR:

Men: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

Women: 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161


Multiply daily activities

Multiply the above BMR result by the following daily activity factor:


  • Sedentary lifestyle: Your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.2 if you do very little or no exercise.
  • Slightly active lifestyle: If you do light exercise one to three times per week, multiply BMR by 1.375.
  • Moderately active lifestyle: If you exercise three to five times per week, multiply your BMR by 1.55.
  • Active lifestyle: If you exercise intensely six to seven times per week, your daily calorie requirement is BMR x 1.725.
  • Extremely active lifestyle: If you exercise twice a day, your daily calorie requirement will be increased.

Keep track of your calorie intake.

Keeping track of your calorie intake to better understand how many calories your body requires. Whatever your goal, knowing how many calories you consume is critical to achieving it.

One method for counting calories is to keep a food diary and write down everything you eat, then look up the calorie count for each item.