You might worry that you’re eating too much or too little, but how can you tell? The answer is simple: by counting your per day calories.
Calories are a measure of energy, and they tell us whether we have enough energy stored up to live our lives. Our bodies need a certain number of calories each day depending on our activity levels, age and gender.
So how many calories should I eat a day? Here’s a general guide for what different age group should consume:
Age 2 to 3 years: 1,000 calories per day
Calories are the same for males and females. Everyone needs a certain number of calories per day to stay healthy. The number of calories you need is based on your age, weight, height and activity level.
For children who are 2 to 3 years old: 1,000 calories per day
The recommended number of daily calories for children ages 2 to 3 years old is between 1,000 and 1,400 per day depending on how active they are — more active children should eat more than less active ones.
Age 4 to 8 years: 1,200 calories per day
A child’s daily caloric needs are calculated on a per day basis. As such, 2,000 calories is the equivalent of one day’s worth of food intake. The average daily calorie requirement for children ages 4 to 8 years old is 1,200 calories.
In this case, “average” simply refers to an approximation of what you should expect your child to consume in terms of total calories each day. It does not mean that all 4-year-olds need exactly 1,200 calories per day and all 5-year-olds need exactly 1,400 calories per day; every child is different!
Age 9 to 13 years: 1,600 calories per day
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), 9-13 year olds should consume 1,600 calories per day for growth and activity. This includes:
- 1,200 calories from food
- 400 from beverages (not including water)
Age 14 to 18 years: 1,800 calories per day
From age 14 to 18, you should be aiming for 1,800 calories per day. This is the ideal caloric intake for most people and can help you maintain a healthy weight.
However, just because it’s “ideal” doesn’t mean it’s what every person should eat. Your lifestyle plays a big role in how many calories you need each day.
If you’re very active and work out at least three times per week, then more than 1,800 calories may be necessary for your body to get the energy it needs to stay healthy. But if your lifestyle is less demanding, then less food would be needed—just enough that keeps you from losing too much weight or becoming unhealthy due to lack of nutrients and vitamins in your diet.
Age 19 to30 years: 2,000 calories per day
If you want to know how many calories you should be eating each day, the answer is not a simple one. The number of calories your body needs depends on how active you are and what your weight goals are.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then fewer calories will help with that task. But if your goal is gaining weight or maintaining current weight levels—which may be more realistic for some people—then more calories per day may be necessary for optimal results.
Age 31 to 50 years: 1,800 calories per day
If you’re 31 to 50 years old and want to lose weight, the standard recommendation is to eat 1,800 calories per day. To gain weight in this age group, the recommended intake is 2,200 calories per day.
These are averages that can be adjusted depending on your activity level and health needs.
If you have a chronic illness or take certain medications, it’s best to consult with a doctor before making any changes to your diet (especially if those changes involve increasing calories).
Age 51 and older 1,600 calories per day
In your 50s, you need about 1,600 calories a day. In your 60s and 70s, it’s still around 1,600 calories per day—and in your 80s and beyond, it’s still around 1,600 calories per day.
There are many reasons why calorie needs decrease as you age: Decreased muscle mass makes it harder to maintain a healthy weight; hormonal changes can make you hungrier than usual; chronic conditions like heart disease may require increased medication use (which can cause side effects like nausea).
So while the number of calories may stay constant throughout adulthood, the way we get those calories will change depending on what stage of life we’re in.
Averages are only a guide. It’s important to look at your own needs.
Averages are only a guide and you should take into account your own needs.
If you’re an adult, your calorie needs will be different from someone younger or older than you.
The number of calories that you need to eat each day depends on:
- age (older adults need fewer calories)
- height (taller people need more calories)
- weight (the heavier you are, the more calories you need)
- how active you are (the more active, the more calories).
The goal of this article was to help you understand how many calories you should be eating by age. It can be tricky because everyone is different and there are so many factors that go into deciding how much you need, like activity level and height. As always, consult with a doctor or registered dietitian if you have any concerns about your caloric intake!