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How many calories per day?

How many calories should you eat daily to lose weight?

Here’s a simple but accurate calorie calculator that will guide you on the exact calories you need, whether you're aiming to lose, maintain, or pack on some pounds.

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts, and fact-checked by experts.
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How many calories should you eat per day to lose weight?
Last updated on December 25, 2023, and last reviewed by an expert on August 14, 2023.
In this article

Discover the ultimate calorie calculator grounded in scientific precision! Dive into our evidence-backed guide featuring five proven strategies for effectively managing your calorie consumption.

How many calories should you eat per day to lose weight?

Ready to pinpoint your daily calorie needs? Use the calculator below to determine the right caloric intake for weight maintenance or loss.

Leveraging the renowned Mifflin-St Jeor equation, our calculator stands out for its precision—endorsed by countless research studies as a dependable method to assess calorie requirements.

Calorie Calculator & Counter

Enter your details in the calculator below to figure out how many calories you should be eating per day to either maintain, lose, or gain weight.

This calculator is for informational purposes only, you should consult a healthcare provider before making any health decisions. The calculator is based on the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, a formula that has been shown to be an accurate way of estimating calorie needs in numerous studies.

How many calories should you eat on average?

Determining your perfect calorie count isn’t one-size-fits-all. It hinges on various elements like age, stature, present weight, physical activity, and metabolic efficiency, to name a few.

Embarking on a weight loss journey? A popular guideline suggests trimming 500 calories from the daily amount required to sustain your present weight. This strategy could see you shedding approximately 1 pound (0.45 kg) weekly.

26 evidence-based weight loss tips that work
Suggested read: 26 evidence-based weight loss tips that work

Below are the average calorie ranges that consider these factors.

Caloric needs for women

Are you a woman aged between 26–50 and lead a moderately active lifestyle? On average, you should aim for 2,000 calories daily to maintain your weight. Want to shed 1 pound (0.45 kg) per week? Aim for a 1,500-calorie intake.

For those who love to stay active and walk more than 3 miles daily, up your intake to 2,200 calories to maintain weight. And if weight loss is your goal, consider a daily intake of at least 1,700 calories to lose that 1 pound (0.45 kg) weekly.

In your early 20s? Your energy needs are slightly higher. To keep your weight stable, target about 2,200 calories daily.

But if you’re a woman over 50, your caloric requirement shifts. A moderately active woman in this age bracket should consume around 1,800 calories to maintain weight. To embark on a weight loss journey, 1,300 calories per day should be your target.

Remember, these figures aren’t for everyone. Pregnant or breastfeeding? Your calorie needs will be significantly higher than these estimates.

Caloric needs for men

Are you a man in your mid-twenties to mid-forties? If you’re moderately active, you’d typically require about 2,600 calories daily to maintain your current weight. Aim for 2,100 calories if you want to shed that extra pound in a week!

For those always on the move, walking over 3 miles daily, your caloric intake should be in the 2,800–3,000 range. But, if you’re keen on dropping a pound a week, consider a daily intake of 2,300–2,500 calories.

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Now, let’s talk about our young adults. Men aged 19–25, especially the active ones, have a higher caloric demand. To maintain their physique, they should consume an average of 2,800 calories, even touching 3,000 if they’re particularly active. A range of 2,300–2,500 calories works best for weight loss goals.

But as the golden years approach, calorie requirements shift. For the 46–65 age bracket, 2,400 calories is the sweet spot. Past 66? The caloric needs slide further down to about 2,200 calories daily.

Kids’ caloric needs: From toddlers to teens

Did you know that a toddler’s calorie intake differs vastly from an active teenager? On average, a toddler needs between 1,200-1,400 calories daily. In contrast, a moderately active teen may require anywhere from 2,000–2,800 calories, with active teenage boys often needing even more!

For kids who are growing robustly and relishing in regular physical activities, counting calories isn’t typically necessary. When presented with a diverse spread of nutritious foods, young people instinctively consume the right amount their bodies demand. Dive in to discover the ideal calorie count tailored to your child’s unique needs!

What are calories?

A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Calories are usually used to measure the energy content of foods and beverages. To lose weight, you must eat fewer calories than your body burns daily.

How to reduce calorie intake: Cutting calories the right way

Think of calories as energy currency. When you bank more than you spend, you pack on the pounds. Conversely, spending more than you deposit can help you shed weight.

However, merely slashing calories without considering what’s on your plate? That’s a recipe for short-lived results. The trick isn’t just eating less but eating smarter. Go for foods packed with nutrients, not just empty calories. Why? Because while the latter might offer a temporary weight drop, the former fuels natural, lasting health.

Suggested read: How to lose 10 pounds in a month in 14 simple steps

Let’s be honest: Extreme calorie cuts can leave you ravenous, leading many to abandon ship and swim back to old habits.

To avoid this pitfall, embrace proven, sustainable eating and lifestyle habits. The strategies below are backed by science to help you maintain a calorie deficit—and avoid the dreaded hunger pangs—on your journey to a fitter you.

1. Eat more protein

When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients.

Adding protein to your diet is a simple, effective way to lose weight with minimal effort.

Studies show that protein increases your metabolic rate and helps curb your appetite.

Because protein requires energy to metabolize, a high-protein diet can increase the number of calories you burn by 80–100 calories per day.

Eating protein helps you stay fuller longer and may help you consume fewer calories throughout the day. One older study showed that people who ate 30% of calories from protein ate 441 fewer calories per day.

In other words, you can increase the calories you burn and decrease the calories you consume simply by adding protein to your diet. Protein can also help fight cravings.

In one 2011 study, consuming 25% of daily calories from protein reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and the desire to snack late at night by 50%.

If you want to lose weight sustainably and with minimal effort, consider increasing your protein intake.

It may help you lose weight and prevent or reduce weight regain.

Summary: Increasing protein intake can boost metabolism, fight cravings, and significantly reduce appetite. This can help you lose weight and keep it off.

2. Avoid sugary soft drinks and fruit juices

Another relatively easy change you can make is eliminating liquid sugar calories from your diet.

This includes sodas, fruit juices, chocolate milk, and other beverages with added sugar.

Suggested read: Protein intake — How huch protein should you eat per day?

Your brain doesn’t register liquid calories like it registers solid calories.

For this reason, drinking sugary soda doesn’t make your brain automatically compensate by having you eat smaller amounts of other things instead.

Studies have shown that sugary drinks are strongly linked to an increased risk of obesity, with one study in children showing a 60% increased risk for each daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage.

The harmful effects of sugar go beyond weight gain. It can have negative effects on metabolic health and raise your risk of many diseases.

Eating fruit, which contains fiber and other essential nutrients, isn’t associated with the same adverse effects as drinking fruit juice or other sweetened beverages. However, eating large amounts of added sugar and sugary drinks can harm your health in various ways.

There’s no physiological need for these beverages, and the long-term benefits of avoiding them can be enormous.

Summary: It’s important to avoid sugary soft drinks and fruit juices, as liquid sugar is the single most fattening aspect of the Western diet.

3. Drink more water

One straightforward trick to increase weight loss is to drink more water.

Studies have suggested drinking water can increase the number of calories you burn for up to 90 minutes.

Drinking about eight, 8-ounce glasses (2 liters) of water daily may make you burn about 96 more calories.

However, recent studies suggest drinking water may not increase the number of calories you burn.

The timing of when you drink water maybe even more critical. Drinking water immediately before meals may help reduce hunger and make you eat fewer calories.

In one 12-week study, drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water half an hour before meals made people lose 44% more weight.

When combined with a healthy diet, drinking more water, especially before meals, appears to be helpful if you need to lose weight.

30 easy ways to lose weight naturally - backed by science
Suggested read: 30 easy ways to lose weight naturally - backed by science

Drinking caffeinated beverages, such as coffee and green tea, may also boost metabolism slightly, at least in the short term. Doing so is associated with losing weight and keeping it off.

Summary: Some studies have shown that drinking water may boost metabolism. Drinking it half an hour before meals can help you eat fewer calories.

4. Exercise and lift weights

When you eat fewer calories, your body compensates by saving energy, making you burn fewer calories.

This is why long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce your metabolism.

Plus, it can lead to a loss of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active, so this can reduce your metabolism even further.

The only proven strategy to prevent this effect is to exert your muscles by lifting weights.

This has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and stop your metabolism from slowing during long-term calorie restriction.

When trying to lose weight, it’s crucial to maintain or strengthen your muscles in addition to losing fat.

If you can’t get to a gym, consider doing bodyweight exercises at home, such as pushups, squats, and situps.

Doing some cardio, including walking, swimming, or jogging, can also be important — not necessarily for weight loss but for optimal health and general well-being.

What’s more, exercise has various other benefits beyond weight loss, such as increased longevity and energy levels, a lower risk of disease, and simply feeling better every day.

Summary: Lifting weights is essential, as it reduces muscle loss and prevents your metabolic rate from slowing.

5. Reduce your refined carb intake

Cutting carbs is a very effective way to lose weight; it reduces appetite and makes you eat fewer calories.

Studies have shown that eating a low-carb diet until fullness can make you lose about two to three times more weight than a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet.

What’s more, low-carb diets have many other benefits for health, especially for people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

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Yet, you don’t have to go low carb. Simply ensure you eat quality, fiber-rich carb sources, focusing on whole, single-ingredient foods.

If you stick to whole foods, the exact composition of your diet becomes less important.

Summary: Cutting carbs may aid weight loss by reducing your appetite and making you eat fewer calories.


How many calories you need per day depends on whether you want to maintain, lose, or gain weight and various other factors, such as your gender, age, height, current weight, activity level, and metabolic health.

Reducing calories does not mean starving yourself. A few simple dietary and lifestyle changes, including exercising, properly hydrating, and increasing your protein intake, can help you lose weight and feel satisfied.

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