The amount of calories you need to consume each day depends on a variety of factors. Your sex, age, weight, height and activity levels can all affect calorie intake. Given these variables, it's often easiest to use a calories-per-day calculator to determine individual needs.
Calorie consumption is determined by a variety of factors, including height and physical activity. In general, adult men need between 2,000 and 3,200 calories per day.
Activity, Age and Calorie Intake
On average, people typically consume around 2,000 calories per day. However, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans state that healthy diets can vary significantly in terms of calorie intake. In general, healthy diets provide between 1,600 and 3,200 calories a day. The exact amount you need to consume depends largely on your gender, age and how much exercise you regularly perform.
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Men typically need more calories than women, and young adults need more calories than older adults. The Dietary Guidelines state that:
- Sedentary adult males need between 2,400 and 2,600 calories a day
- Moderately active adult males need around 2,800 calories a day
- Active adult males need around 3,200 calories a day
An 18-year-old man who exercises regularly or holds a physically active job will need the most calories (3,200 per day). In contrast, older adults over 61 years of age who live a sedentary lifestyle only need 2,000 calories a day.
However, it's possible to consume more calories if you're extremely active. Similarly, it's also safe to consume fewer calories if you're trying to lose weight. Harvard Health Publishing states that men can consume as little as 1,500 calories-per-day.
Weight, Height and Calorie Intake
Your calorie intake isn't only influenced by your age, sex and activity levels. It's also determined by your body — specifically, your height and weight.
Height and weight are the two variables used to determine your body mass index (BMI). Your BMI is able to give you an approximation of your body fat. Basically, it can tell if you're a healthy weight for your height.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, BMIs are determined on a scale. In summary:
- A BMI under 18 indicates that you may be underweight
- A BMI between 18 and 25 indicates that you are within a normal range
- A BMI above 25 and up to 30 shows that you may have overweight
- A BMI above 30 and up to 40 indicates that you may have obesity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average American man weighs 197.8 pounds (89.7 kilograms). However, he is also between 69.1 and 69.4 inches tall (between 5 foot and 7 inches and 5 foot and 8 inches). The average BMI for American men is 29.1.
Essentially, if you're a 200-pound man, you likely weigh the same amount as the average man in America. A man of this weight with a healthy BMI would be very tall — at least 6 feet and 3 inches.
However, if your BMI is also the same as the average man (around 29), you may want to consider losing weight by increasing your activity levels or reducing your calorie intake. Higher BMIs are associated with a greater risk for various disorders, including cancer and cardiovascular disease.
The one exception to this is if you're an athlete. People with more muscle mass may have higher BMIs and yet be a perfectly healthy weight.
Using Calories-Per-Day Calculators
There are a variety of calculators you can use to estimate the number of calories you need on a daily basis. However, a calories-per-day calculator may provide inaccurate results.
These calculators may not take into account every factor that can influence your calorie intake. For instance, Cornell University's calories-per-day calculator works well — but is inappropriate for athletes and anyone who is even moderately physically active.
The National Institutes of Health provides a range of different calculators you may use to determine your ideal weight. Their body weight planner can help you figure out how many calories you need to consume to lose, gain or maintain your weight.
Alternatively, you can determine your own optimal caloric intake. In order to do this, you need to start by calculating your BMI to determine if you need to lose or gain pounds.
If you already know your BMI, you can start by calculating your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the first step in determining your exact caloric needs.
Calculating Your Optimal Calorie Intake
Your BMR is the minimum amount of calories you need on a daily basis. This number is based on your sex, height, weight and age. It doesn't take any physical activity into account.
Like the estimated calorie consumption the Dietary Guidelines recommends, BMR will change with age. An 18-year-old 200-pound man that is 6 feet and 3 inches will have a BMR of 2,142. In contrast, a 75-year-old 200-pound man of the same height will have a BMR of 1,746.
If you're a 200-pound man closer to the average height (5 feet, 8 inches), your BMR will be lower. A 75-year-old man would have a BMR of 1,666, while an 18-year-old man would have a BMR of 2,053.
Once you've established your BMR, you'll need to multiply it by another number to determine your optimal calorie intake. Sedentary adults would multiply their BMR by 1.2. People who are extremely active, with physical jobs or who carry out regular sports training, need to multiply their BMR by 1.725 or 1.9.
This means that a 200-pound man may consume as little as 1,999 calories (for the 75-year old who is 5 feet, 8 inches) or as much as 4,070 calories (for the 18-year-old who is 6 feet, 3 inches) and still be within a healthy range.
Ultimately, if you're a 200-pound man, the calories-per-day you can consume may vary substantially. If you're still uncertain about how to calculate your optimal daily calorie consumption, you should consult your dietitian or healthcare practitioner.
- BMI Calculator: "BMR Calculator"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Body Measurements"
- NIH: "Calculate Your Body Mass Index"
- Cleveland Clinic: "What’s a Healthy BMI?"
- Dietary Guidelines 2015-2020: "Appendix 2. Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"
- BMI Calculator: "Harris Benedict Equation"
- Cornell University: "Basal Energy Expenditure: Harris-Benedict Equation"
- NIH: "About the Body Weight Planner"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Calorie Counting Made Easy"