How many calories each day do you really need?

Here’s how many calories each day you need to eat to achieve your health goal

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: losing weight is all about calories in versus calories out. It’s pretty simple: eat fewer calories than you burn and you lose weight; eat more calories than you burn and you gain weight. It’s called the Energy Balance Equation and here it is:

Change in body stores = Energy In – Energy Out

Note that the equation says “body stores” rather than “bodyweight” because body stores refers to the bodily tissues, such as muscle and fat, that are affected by a positive or negative energy balance equation. “Bodyweight” can be significantly impacted by changes in body water – but those changes are temporary.

Estimating your energy needs
Determining your daily energy requirements can be very complex, requiring you to input your height, weight, age, sex, activity levels, goals and other data into mathematical equations.

But there’s an easier way: use this chart! It gets you incredibly close to the same total daily calorie number with a fraction of the time and effort! The formula is in pounds (lb) – there are 14lb in one stone. In general women should use the smaller multipliers in each box and men the larger one. If you know your weight in kilos, multiply it by 2.2 to convert it to pounds.

Putting theory into practice
To understand how this works in real life, here are a couple of examples.

Simple, right? Yes – except these calorie targets are only very rough starting points. And an even bigger problem is that accurately estimating the calories you’ve actually eaten, and those you’ve burned, is far more complicated and difficult than you’ve been led to believe.

Determining your daily calorie needs based on your weight, goal, activity level and gender is easy, but by itself it’s not actionable. All you get is a number, which may not be accurate because accurately estimating how many calories you eat and how many calories you burn each day is almost impossible.

This is why a nutrition plan based on calorie counting is a flawed approach, but that’s OK because we have a far better and easier approach you can follow to start to eat for a better body.