The specific amount of calories and fat you need each day depends on your gender, age, body weight and activity level. Calorie and fat guidelines for the average person can help you estimate your own needs. Consuming the right amount of fat and calories each day can help optimize your energy levels and keep you at a healthy body weight.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the average sedentary woman needs 1,600 to 2,000 calories each day, while the average sedentary man requires 2,000 to 2,600 calories per day to maintain a healthy body weight. Sedentary men and women need about 13 calories per pound of body weight each day. This means a 130-pound sedentary woman needs 1,690 calories and a 170-pound sedentary man requires 2,210 calories each day to maintain a healthy weight.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 report that on average, women who engage in physical activity need 1,800 to 2,200 calories if they are moderately active and 2,000 to 2,400 calories each day if they regularly engage in physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day; moderately active men need 2,200 to 2,800 calories and active men require 2,400 to 3,000 calories each day to maintain a healthy weight. Moderately active men and women need 16 calories per pound of body weight, while active men and women require 18 calories per pound of body weight each day. For example, a 130-pound physically active woman needs 2,080 to 2,340 calories, while a 170-pound physically active man requires about 2,720 to 3,060 calories daily.
Overweight and Obesity
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that the majority of Americans in the United States are overweight or obese. The average U.S. woman weighs about 165 pounds, while the average American man weighs about 195 pounds. For effective weight loss, women require 1,000 to 1,600 calories and most men need 1,200 to 1,600 calories per day. You can estimate your calorie needs for weight loss by multiplying your ideal body weight by 10. If your ideal weight is 120 pounds, eat about 1,200 calories per day to help reach that goal.
The amount of fat you need each day depends on your total calorie intake. The Institute of Medicine encourages adults to get 20 to 35 percent of their energy intake from fats. Since fat provides 9 calories per gram, a woman who consumes a 2,000-calorie diet would need 44 to 78 grams of fat, and a man who eats 2,600 calories per day would require 58 to 101 grams of fat each day. Limit saturated, or “bad,” fats found in high-fat meats, butter and full-fat dairy products to less than 10 percent of your energy intake, or fewer than 23 grams for a 2,000-calorie diet and less than 29 grams per day for 2,600 calories.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010
- Harvard Medical School: Good Nutrition: Should Guidelines Differ for Men and Women?
- National Health Statistics Reports: Anthropometric Reference Data for Children and Adults: United States, 2003–2006
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Aim for a Healthy Weight
- University of Washington: Manage Your Weight
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.