The Healthy Truth: How many calories do you need?

the-healthy-truth-caloriesDear Friends,

You probably have heard about recommended calorie intake, maybe you even take the time to read the amount of calories contained in the food items you buy. But do you know how many calories you actually need?


For men over the age of 18 who live a sedentary lifestyle, daily intake is recommended at 2,600 calories. This then tapers down to 2,200 calories after the age of 40. If you’re moderately active or very active, you will need to increase your caloric intake by a couple of hundred calories.

For women, daily caloric intake can range from 2,000 calories and dropping to 1,600 for older sedentary women. Once again, based on your level of activity, you can add a couple of hundred calories if needed.

Sure, these are just recommendations, but with so many different body shapes one guideline cannot be a one-size-fits-all.

If you’ve ever wanted to find out exactly how many calories you should take in a day, pull out your calculator because what follows is a simple mathematic formula used to calculate your caloric intake.

This is what you will need to calculate:

(weight in pounds x 4.5) + (height in inches x 15.88) – (age x 5) – 161 = your caloric needs.

Confused? Let’s do a test one.

(130 x 4.5) + (65 x 15.88) – (40 x 5) – 161 =
585 + 1,032 – 200 – 161 = 1,256 calories.
This means that a person weighing 130 pounds who is 65 inches tall (5’5”) at the age of 40 requires 1.256 calories a day to survive if they do absolutely nothing. Basically, this is the amount of calories the body requires for its basic functioning.

Now you may be asking, “Well, what if I’m physically active?” Don’t worry, I have something to help with that, too!

If you’re sedentary, multiply your total by 20 percent, if you’re lightly active – by 30 percent, moderately active – by 40 percent, and if you’re very active multiply your total by 50 percent. This will give you your total required caloric intake based on your needs.

This information is useful for many reasons. For starters, if you’re an athlete or a bodybuilder, knowing how many calories you need can greatly improve your performance and strength. Furthermore, those of you looking to lose weight can start off with your basic number and make the appropriate adjustments to your fitness and diet in order to drop those extra pounds.

Lastly, knowing your caloric requirements can also help you avoid overeating, so that you don’t put on the weight either.


It doesn’t matter what your specific number is. The point is, we are all different, so instead of following some generic cookie-cutter guidelines, you can work with your body and meet its own specific needs.

Until next week,

Emily Lunardo

Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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