Recommended dietary allowances do not exist for daily calorie requirements. However, the Institute of Medicine provides estimated energy requirements, or EER -- the average number of calories needed to maintain energy balance in healthy adults. However, individualized calorie needs are based on your current body weight, gender, activity level and weight-management goals.
Guidelines for Estimated Energy Requirements
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 provide estimated calorie needs for adults based on average heights and weights for adult men and women in each age group, using the Institute of Medicine’s EER equations. Based on these estimates, average EER for adult men and women range from 2,000 to 3,000 calories daily for men and 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day for women.
Guidelines for Sedentary Adults
Since lean muscle mass and metabolism tend to decrease with age, the older you are, the fewer calories you require to maintain a healthy weight. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 suggest sedentary men often require 2,000 to 2,600 calories daily, while sedentary adult women often need just 1,600 to 2,000 calories daily to maintain healthy weights. Harvard Medical School estimates that sedentary adults require 13 calories for each pound of their body weight daily.
Active Adult Calorie Needs
Active adults not only burn additional calories during physical activity, they often have more lean body mass -- which helps boost metabolism. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 estimate that moderately active men need 2,200 to 2,800 calories daily, active men require 2,400 to 3,000 calories a day, moderately active women need 1,800 to 2,200 calories and active women generally require 2,000 to 2,400 calories a day. Harvard Medical School reports that while moderately active adults need about 16 calories per pound, active adults often require 18 calories per pound of their body weight daily.
Weight-Loss Calorie Requirements
While total daily weight-loss calorie needs are highly individualized, they often range from 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day, notes the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. An easy, safe way to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week -- and keep the weight off long term -- is to reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories a day, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes
- U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Harvard Health Publications: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute: How Are Overweight and Obesity Treated?
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight