As with most subjects under the health and wellness umbrella, there are few clean-cut answers — calorie maintenance is no exception. For a 170-pound person, the calories needed to maintain that weight will vary based on several factors.
In addition to actually tracking your caloric intake, you'll need to factor in your activity level, body composition and age in order to calculate your maintenance calories. This trial-and-error legwork may sound tedious, but it can be an extremely helpful measure when it comes to maintaining, losing or gaining weight, regardless of your starting point.
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Calorie Maintenance for a 170-Pound Person
Generally, a middle-aged, sedentary man needs to consume between 2,200 and 2,400 calories per day to maintain his weight, according to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP).
The average middle-aged, sedentary woman needs to consume between 1,600 to 1,800 calories in order to maintain her body weight, according to the ODPHP.
However, the best way to find your personal maintenance calorie level is by tracking your food intake and weight each day. For several days, monitor your weight and food consumption. If you stay at the same weight, then you can calculate how many calories exactly your body needs. However if you gain or lose a little weight, you can adjust accordingly.
Take Your Activity Level Into Account
Whether you're looking to maintain 170 pounds or any other value, the amount of physical activity you incorporate each day affects the number of calories you need. Keep in mind that, if you want to maintain a healthy weight, the National Institute on Aging recommends at least 150 minutes of activity each week.
If you're currently 170 pounds and regularly exercise vigorously, though, you'll need to stick with your usual routine in order to maintain your current weight. If you increase or decrease your activity level, you'll need to increase or decrease the amount of calories you're taking in, respectively.
Read more: How Many Times Should I Exercise Per Week?
Effect of Body Composition
Your body composition also plays a role in your calorie maintenance level. Those that have a higher ratio of muscle to fat typically need to consume more calories, as muscle burns more calories to maintain than fat, according to the Mayo Clinic.
If you're looking to increase your calorie intake without gaining weight, increasing your muscle mass will do the trick, according to the Mayo Clinic. Introduce two or three strength-training sessions per week to increase your muscle, focusing on compound movements like deadlifts or squats, which target many of the major muscles all at once.
Age Affects Your Calorie Level
Generally, the older you are, the fewer calories you burn per pound of body weight, according to the Mayo Clinic. As you age, your body begins to lose muscle and your metabolism gradually slows, which means that you burn less calories. So, this generally means that your calorie maintenance will gradually decrease with age.
However, keeping a consistent exercise routine and strength-training regimen as you age can help counteract these affects, according to Harvard Health Publishing. Older individuals can still increase their muscle mass and even make up for the mass they may have lost with age.
Read more: Formula for Caloric Intake
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Preserve your muscle mass"
- Mayo Clinic: "Metabolism and weight loss: How you burn calories"
- National Institute on Aging: "Maintaining a Healthy Weight"
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "Body Measurements"
- Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion: "Estimated Calorie Needs per Day, by Age, Sex, and Physical Activity Level"