How Many Calories Are Needed Per Pound to Maintain a Body Weight?

Woman on a weight scale
A woman is standing on a scale. (Image: DAJ/amana images/Getty Images)

Maintaining weight comes down to how many calories are consumed versus how many calories burned, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. To maintain weight, a person must figure out how many calories he burns daily and then consume that amount.

Activity Level

The University of Maryland Medical Center states the first step to finding out how many calories a person requires is to determine activity level. This impacts the amount of calories burned during daily activities. If an individual spends most of the day sitting and gets little exercise, he is considered relatively inactive. Getting some exercise or spending most of the day standing is considered moderately active.

Calculating Calories

The University provides a simple formula to calculate caloric needs. Men who are moderately active should multiply their weight in pounds by 15; women multiply by 12. The resulting number is the total calories per day needed to maintain weight. Relatively inactive men should multiply their weight by 13 and women, by 10. A moderately active woman who weighs 150 lbs. would need 1,800 calories per day to maintain her weight.

Weight Maintenance

Obesity research conducted and published in 1999 by McGuire, et al, studied people who lost an average of 37 lbs. and maintained that loss for more than seven years. Participants controlled overall fat intake and exercise more than those who regained their weight. They also weighed themselves more often. McGuire found that maintaining weight requires adhering to a low-fat diet, exercising and close monitoring of weight.

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