It is said that the key to losing weight is consuming fewer calories than you burn. Now how do you get this?

One of the keys to maintaining an ideal weight is to eat healthy and in moderation. But it is often said that knowing how many calories to consume daily can help you reach your goal more easily.

Of course, it is not about going to extremes or following a strict and restrictive diet. Rather, the idea is to improve your regular diet so that it is balanced and healthy. Likewise, it must be considered that nutritional needs vary according to age, sex and health status.

Although it is possible to calculate caloric requirements, it is always good to have the endorsement of a doctor or nutritionist. Remember that it is not only about the calories, but also about the nutrients that are incorporated and the quality of the food.

How can you estimate the number of calories you should take in? We share some simple keys for it. Discover them!

How to know how many calories to consume daily?

There is no exact table to know how many calories should be consumed daily; however, based on the metabolic expenditure of each person, an estimate can be made.  Thus, first it is convenient to make a distinction between basal metabolism and total energy requirements.

As the experts explain, the basal metabolism is formed by the energy requirements of the body to perform basic functions at rest. Since we are on the move during the day, some changes must be made to this amount depending on lifestyle and variables such as physical activity.

Now, to calculate the basal metabolism, a basic formula is taken into account: kilocalories / day. Its results can be obtained through a test called ‘indirect calorimetry’. We can also approximate with other formulas that we will see below.

Calculation of calories according to weight.

There is a formula called the Harris-Benedict Formula that, although it is somewhat complex, allows you to accurately calculate the number of calories you should consume per day based on your weight:

  • For women: [655 + (9.6 × weight in kg)] + [(1.8 × height in cm) – (4.7 × age)] × Activity factor.
  • For men: [66 + (13.7 × weight in kg)] + [(5 × height in cm) – (6.8 × age)] × Activity factor.

The result is equal to the number of daily calories that must be supplied. It should be taken into account that the ‘activity factor’ depends on the lifestyle and the daily activities that are carried out. The coefficient that will be added to the formulas corresponds to one of these conditions:

  • 1.2 for sedentary people (walking for 15 minutes or housework).
  • 1,375 for people with little physical activity (doing physical activity 1 to 3 times a week).
  • 1.55 for individuals who perform moderate activity (physical activity 3 to 5 times a week).
  • 1,725 ​​for people who are vigorously active (do physical activity 6 to 7 times a week).
  • 1.9 for professional athletes (training of more than 4 hours a day).

Calorie calculation according to gender.

Another formula traditionally used to calculate calories is to do the following calculation:

  • In the case of adult men: multiply the weight in kilos by 25.
  • For adult women: multiply the weight in kilos by 23.

Calculation of calories according to age.

Calorie calculation can also be done based on age. Let’s see more about it below.

Average calories for children.

If we rely on your body mass,  the children require fewer calories than adults. However, due to the fact that they are in a growth phase and because of the almost constant physical activity that their lifestyle demands, this amount increases.

The following is an average calculation published by the Spanish Association of Pediatrics(AEP), although this number should always be reviewed by a pediatrician or nutritionist, since it varies according to the level of activity that the infant has daily.

  • Girls 3 to 9 years: between 1,100 and 2,250 calories a day.
  • Children 3-9 years old: 1,160 to 2,350 calories a day.

Average calories for teens.

At this stage of life there is a greater energy requirement, since adolescents are in a growth stage and their metabolism is faster. In this way, the number of daily calories required is increased.

According to what is specified by Madruga Acerete and Pedrón Giner in an investigation published in Diagnostic and therapeutic protocols in pediatrics, the estimated caloric needs for young people are:

  • Ages 11-14: About 2,200 calories a day for women and about 2,500 calories a day for men.
  • From 15 to 18 years: The estimate is estimated at 2,200 calories a day for women and 3,000 for men.

Again, it is important to note that there are many factors that can influence these amounts. Therefore, the ideal is to plan a balanced and healthy diet with a nutritionist.

Average calories for adulthood.

Unlike adolescents, at this age, the metabolism begins to slow down a bit. In addition, energy requirements decrease, so calorie intake must be controlled.

However, in this age group it is more difficult to establish an average calculation of daily calories, since many factors come into play:

  • Age, physical composition and sex.
  • Daily physical activity level.
  • Food intolerances.
  • Health conditions that can be suffered, such as hyperthyroidism, for example.

Another aspect that must be clear are the types of food that will provide the calories. If the goal is to reach a healthy weight, sugars, carbohydrates and fats should be moderate. Instead, it is highly recommended to eat plenty of organic foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

Diet model

As a guide, we present the following diet model to improve nutrition. However, remember that it is best to plan your diet with the nutritionist. So, you will know what to eat, in what quantity, according to your characteristics, needs, objectives and why not, your food preferences.


  • 2 slices of bread spread with cheese.
  • 1 medium fruit (1 banana or any other).
  • 1 glass of skim milk, alone or with coffee (250 ml).


  • 1 fresh fruit of your choice.
  • ½ cup of skim milk with coffee (125 ml).


  • 1 portion of meat (175-200 g).
  • ½ plate of rice or pasta.
  • 1 bowl of raw and assorted vegetables.
  • 1 bowl of fruit salad.


  • 1 cup of yogurt with cereals (200 g).


  • ½ plate of legumes.
  • 4 tablespoons of lean cheese (100 g).
  • 1 cup of some cooked vegetable (100 g).
  • 1 slice of whole wheat bread.
  • 1 medium fruit.

Don’t just focus on how many calories to consume.

While it’s important to pay attention to the calories in your meals, don’t get obsessed with their counting. Instead, it is better to try to maintain a diet as balanced as possible, as well as have good lifestyle habits in general.

Finally, following the recommendations of professionals regarding the needs of the body and health status will always be the most appropriate. Following strict regimens will not be beneficial in the long run and may even prevent us from maintaining an appropriate stable weight. Balance is the key!


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