How many calories you need to stay at your current weight depends on a lot of factors. If, for example, you'd like to know the number of calories to maintain 135 pounds, that number will depend not only on your weight but also your height, sex, age and activity level.
Most adults need to eat between 1,600 and 3,000 calories per day to maintain their current weight, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But the number of calories you eat should not be your only concern — you should also consider the quality of the food you eat.
Calories to Maintain 135 Pounds
There's no single number of calories people need to eat every day. Whatever your current weight is, there are formulas available to give you an idea of how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. One such tool is the Mayo Clinic's calorie calculator.
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So, if you are looking for the number of calories to maintain 135 pounds, how much you should eat may vary slightly depending on your age and sex. For example, if you are a 40-year old, 5-foot 7-inch tall woman who is moderately active and you weigh 135 pounds, your daily calorie intake should be about 1,800 calories — using the Mayo Clinic's calculator. That number rises as your activity level increases.
If you are a similarly sized 135-pound, 40-year-old man and you are somewhat active, the daily calories to maintain 135 pounds increases to about 1,950 calories. If you're very active, you should consume around 2,500 calories per day to maintain your weight.
Small changes in weight don't change the numbers much. If the 40-year-old woman in the example lost 5 pounds, her daily intake of calories to maintain 130 pounds stays the same. That intake is 1,800 calories for those who are somewhat active and 2,250 calories for those who are very active.
Calories and Weight Loss
If you are trying to lose weight, try to estimate the number of calories your body needs to stay at the current weight. So try the Mayo Clinic's calorie calculator to gauge your current needs, and you can map out a weight loss plan from there. You should also never start a diet without consulting with your doctor first.
Once you have answered the question "What's my maintenance calories?" you can determine how many calories you can cut safely. You need to eat about 3,500 calories in addition to your daily calorie needs to gain 1 pound, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you want to lose 1 pound, you'll need to cut about 3,500 calories. But you don't want to cut out too many calories.
Losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is considered safe, according to Harvard Health Publishing. To achieve this goal, you'll need to cut out about 500 to 1,000 calories a day. However, women should never eat fewer than 1,200 calories a day, and men should never go below 1,500 calories per day unless they're under medical supervision. A diet that's too low in calories may lead to nutrient deficiencies, among other health issues.
It's Not Just Calories
When you're considering your ideal number of calories to eat, you should keep in mind that your weight depends on several other factors. The quality of your food makes a big difference. The Mayo Clinic suggests that one way to lower your energy intake is to eat more plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
The Mayo Clinic shares some tips to kick-start your weight loss plan:
- Eat at least four servings of vegetables and three servings of fruits every day.
- Instead of refined grains, eat whole grains.
- Use modest amounts of healthy fats, such as olive oil, vegetable oils, avocados, nuts, and nut butters and oils.
- Go easy on sugar.
- Choose low-fat dairy products, lean meat and poultry in limited amounts.
The Mayo Clinic also states that adding in exercise will help you lose weight and keep it off. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get two hours and 30 minutes of moderate activity, like walking, each week. That's about 22 minutes a day. By focusing on eating nutritious foods and moving more, rather than on the number of calories you eat, you'll find it easier to make healthy changes that last a lifetime.
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020: Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- Mayo Clinic: "Calorie Calculator"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"
- Mayo Clinic: "Counting Calories: Get Back to Weight Loss Basics"
- Mayo Clinic: "Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Finding a Balance: Balancing Diet and Activity to Lose Weight"
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Daily Food Plan