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How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day According To Your Age & Stage? Here’s A Handy Guide

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How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day According To Your Age & Stage? Here’s A Handy Guide

Not a lot of people believe in counting calories for weight loss. There are also recent studies suggesting that the time-tested “calories in versus calories out” philosophy for weight loss isn’t as accurate and universal as we once thought. You even have social media influencers claiming that you need to eat more if you want to weigh less.

No wonder people find it confusing.

Regardless of whatever your diet or lifestyle, calories can play a huge part in helping maintain a healthy diet. Here’s how many you should be enjoying per day.


What Exactly are Calories (And Why Do They Get A Bad Rap)?

A calorie is defined as a “unit of energy.” In the context of food, a calorie measures the amount of energy in the food and beverages that we consume.

It is also, unfortunately, linked to weight gain and weight loss. That’s because excess calories—aka the energy your body didn’t need to expend—are stored as body fat.

But let me be clear: we need calories. Calories are the fuel that runs our bodies. No calories, no fuel, no energy. Simple as that.


Maintaining a healthy, ideal weight is all about the calories we eat (and their quality, but that’s a different tangent). If you want to optimise your energy levels without packing on the pounds or lose weight without jeopardizing your health, it’s best to portion your daily caloric intake to what’s recommended for your age, stage, gender, and level of physical activity (aka exercise).

Here’s that handy guide we promised you:


The Ladies

Age/Stage Little to No Physical Activity Fairly Active Totally Active
19-20 2,000 2,200 2,400
21-25 2,000 2,200 2,400
26-30 1,800 2,000 2,400
31-45 1,800 2,000 2,200
46-50 1,800 2,000 2,200
51-60 1,600 1,800 2,200
61-75 1,600 1,800 2,000
76+ 1,600 1,800 2,000


As you can see, there’s definitely a certain age range where your recommended daily calories peak before gradually declining. This is due to the fact that our metabolism generally slows down as we start to age. With the exception of genetics and lifestyle, your metabolism at 30 isn’t going to be as fast and efficient as it was when you were 21.

Sad, but true.

So if you’re wondering why your 23-year-old stomach could remain flat after eating a whole dish of baked macaroni but your 28-year-old thighs seem to swell with just a tiny bite of lasagne, this is why.

Just remember that this calorie recommendation is generalized! We’re all built differently, and that’s beautiful. If you want to truly optimise your bodily functions or create a meal plan for healthy weight management, a registered dietician can give you a more accurate number.


The Gents

Age/Stage Little to No Physical Activity Fairly Active Totally Active
19-20 2,600 2,800 3,000
21-25 2,400 2,800 3,000
26-35 2,400 2,600 3,000
36-40 2,400 2,600 2,800
41-45 2,200 2,600 2,800
46-55 2,200 2,400 2,800
56-60 2,200 2,400 2,600
61-65 2,000 2,400 2,600
66-75 2,000 2,200 2,600
76+ 2,000 2,200 2,400


For the gentlemen, there’s a bit more variation in terms of age and activity level than there is for women. For instance, women aged 31-45 can eat 2,200 calories a day if they’re very active. That’s the same recommended caloric intake for the next 15 years.

On the other hand, men aged 31 to 35 can eat 3,000 calories with constant physical activity. Once they hit 36, they need to eat about 200 calories less even with the same activity level.

And, of course, men can eat more. In fact, men should eat more. It’s long been established that men have higher dietary and caloric needs than women. At 76 years old, they can afford to eat a minimum of 2,000 calories a day without worrying about weight gain. Women the same age can only eat 2,000 calories if they’re still exercising or moving regularly.

To wrap this up, I’m going to reiterate what we mentioned earlier; these numbers are generalized. As far as giving you a starting point to plan your meals and get your overeating (or under-eating) under control, sure; follow this table religiously.

But! For a more personalized approach regarding caloric intake, talk to a registered dietician or nutritionist. They can give you the best calories-per-day schedule to suit your body and health goals.


To find out more about how you can get Hearty Health ready meals direct to you or at your facility, simply call 1300 728 764 or email office@heartyhealth.com.au