There are general guidelines, about how many calories a male or female should eat. However there are some variations depending on various things such as:-

  • Your current weight. Are you underweight, overweight or just right?
  • Do you just want to maintain your present weight?
  • Are you aiming to lose weight or gain it?
  • Is your lifestyle active or sedentary?
  • Your age
  • Whether you are male or female.
  • Your health in general

Trying to lose weight.

The more extra weight that you carry, the higher the amount of calories you can consume, initially, and still lose weight. If you are more than a couple of stone overweight and female, you will probably start your diet at around 1500 to 1800 calories a day. This amount of calories will give you a healthy, regular weight loss of a couple of pounds a week. A man would be more likely to be allowed around 2000 to 2200 a day, given the same circumstances.

Allow yourself more calories at the start of a diet as, because you have more weight to carry around, you will burn away more pf these calories each day. As your diet progresses and your weight decreases, so must your calorie intake.

If you have a stone or less to lose from the start of your diet then your daily intake of calories should be around 1,000 to 1,500 a day, if you are a female, and 1,500 to 2,000 a day if you are a male. These amounts are flexible as a lot will also depend on how old you are, how tall you are, your metabolism and whether your life is sedentary or active.

It is not advisable to follow very restrictive diets. Women should never go below 1,000 calories a day, nor men below 1,500.

If you lose weight with a weight loss of regular small amounts you are more likely to keep the weight off in the long term and also stick to your diet. A more stringent diet will be hard to maintain and will not really be healthy. Also, very low calorie diets can be harmful to your health, long term. You may run the risk of causing yourself many health problems. Low calorie diets can also be lacking in some of the vital vitamins and nutrient, that a healthy body needs to work well.

Once you have reached your target weight you should be able to follow a maintenance diet. This will mean that you watch your weight and calorie intake, without being too strict. Having had the struggle to lose weight, you do not want to put the weight straight back on, do you?

Usually a maintenance diet will be about 250 calories more, than when you were dieting. Over the following weeks and months you will be able to monitor your weight and adjust your daily calorie intake, for example, increasing or reducing the amount of calories, if and when necessary.

Trying to put weight on.

For all of us who struggle to keep our weight down, being unable to gain weight is hard to understand. However, there are people who desperately want to gain weight and just cannot seem to. The principle of weight gain is the same as that for weight loss.

Work out what would be the ideal amount of calories, you should consume in a day, by looking at your height, weight, levels of activity, sex and age. There are many books which may help you work this out and there are Internet sites where you can put in your details and a calorie calculator will do the calculation for you.

Whatever is your ideal amount of calories a day then needs to be increased a little. It takes about an extra 3,500 calories just to gain one pound in weight. As you can see, you will need to be patient and monitor your weight regularly, making any calorie adjustments necessary. Avoid simply eating rich and fattening foods though, as these may increase your cholesterol levels more than is healthy.

The normal amount of calories you should eat.

As I have already said the amount of calories a day, which is right for you, is very personal. Everyone's metabolism is different. However you can increase your activity to burn off extra calories. What is usually classed as the average amount of calories, just to maintain your weight, is often 1,800 to 2,000 for a woman and 2,000 to 2,500 for a man.

Here is a calculation which should enable you to determine the correct amount of daily calories for you.

Men-Multiply your body weight(in pounds)by 10; then add double your body weight to this value.

Women-Multiply your body weight by 10; then add your body weight to this value.

"These calculations, when the energy expanded during physical activity and the thermic effect of food is included, will give you your Base Metabolic Rate"

This may look confusing at first glance but read it through a couple of times and it should make sense.

As the site says, for most people these calculations are too confusing. They then give an easier formula:-

For sedentary people: Weight x 14 = estimated calories/day

For moderately active people: Weight x 17 = estimated calories/day

For active people: Weight x 20 = estimated calories/day

These calculations, however, do not take into account the differences between men and women, which really they should. Looking at the earlier calculation on the site I take the weight figure to be in pounds. This would mean a woman weighing 140 pounds, in a sedentary job, would need 1,400 calories a day to maintain her weight. To m,e that does not seem a lot and I think these figures should only be used as a guide. Still as a rough guide they are better than nothing.

In Conclusion

If you follow the general guidelines, for the amount of calories which you need to consume daily, and you find that you put weight on, for example, then cut down a little. As individuals we are all so different that there are really no hard and fast correct amounts for calorie intake a day, just what's right for you.

Maintaining a healthy weight involves eating the correct proportions of foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat and minimising your intake of foods such as candy, cakes, cookies fats, pizza and the like.

Please also remember that any unexplained weight loss or weight gain should always be investigated by a Doctor, just to rule out health problems such as a Thyroid disorder.