If you hang around with a group of serious dieters, it might not take long until you think calories are something to shun. It's true that carefully monitoring your calories helps you build a healthy body, but don't view calories as a dirty word. Calories are found in virtually every type of food you eat, and they provide the energy you need. Your age, gender and lifestyle are factors that influence your caloric needs.
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Caloric Intake for Women
According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, average-size women between 19 and 30 years of age should get 1,800 to 2,000 calories per day if they're inactive, 2,000 to 2,200 calories if they get a moderate amount of exercise and 2,400 calories if they're consistently active. Women from 31 to 50 years of age should get 1,800, 2,000 or 2,200 calories per day, depending on their activity level.
Caloric Intake for Men
On average, men need considerably more calories than women. Average-size men who are 19 to 30 should eat 2,400 to 2,600 calories if they don't exercise, 2,600 to 2,800 calories if they get a moderate amount of exercise and 3,000 calories if they exercise frequently. Men between the ages of 31 and 50 should have 2,200 to 2,400 calories, 2,400 to 2,600 calories or 2,800 to 3,000 calories, respectively, in the three levels of physical activity.
Factor in Weight
Your gender, age and level of physical activity aren't the only factors that dictate how many calories you should get per day. Your weight also plays a role. The CNPP's caloric needs for women are based on a woman who is 5 feet, 4 inches and 126 pounds. For men, the standard is based on 5 feet, 10 inches and 154 pounds. If you're significantly smaller or larger than these measurements, speak to your doctor to determine your caloric intake more accurately or use an online calorie calculator that requires you to input your weight.
Understanding Your Calories
Tracking your caloric intake often plays a role in losing weight. To lose weight, your intake of calories must be less than your caloric burn. An increase in your physical activity can contribute to weight loss, as can a reduction in your caloric intake. To ensure you keep within your caloric intake guidelines, avoid unhealthy, high-calorie foods, especially those that contain empty calories. Empty calorie foods are those that have minimal nutritional value. Excessively sweetened and fattened foods are examples of empty calories. Additionally, making calorie-conscious choices throughout the day, such as substituting skim milk for 2 percent milk, can help you control your caloric intake.