How many calories should you eat per day? USDA guidelines for men, women and children (2024)

Corrections & Clarifications: An earlier version of this story misspelled the name of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics spokesperson. She is Caroline Susie.

Few things are as essential as nutrition, but few things can feel so vague. Even the question of how to lose weight, once considered fundamental, is disputed by experts.who say that there is more going on than just eating less and exercising more.

How many calories should you eat per day?

There is no simple answer to this question either, experts say. It depends on a number of variables, including your gender, age and weight, among others.

But the USDA issues raw calorie values ​​as part of its policyreport on nutritional advice, which is published every five years.

Here's how many calories you should eat according to the USDA.

How many calories should you eat per day? USDA guidelines for men, women and children (1)

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How many calories should I eat per day?

Adult women need between 1,600 and 2,400 calories per day, and adult men need between 2,000 and 3,000 calories per day, according to the USDA's latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans report, released in 2020.

The daily calorie requirement for toddlers under 2 years of age is between 700 and 1,000 calories. Children ages 2 to 8 need between 1,000 and 2,000 calories, the report said. According to the USDA, estimates of daily calorie intake vary widely for older children and teens, with a range of 1,400 to 3,200.

The intervals vary based on gender, age, weight and activity level.


USDA also refers to Americansan online nutritional reference intake calculatorthat provides individual suggestions for daily calorie intake based on the information you enter, along with recommendations for daily intake of macronutrients, vitamins and minerals.

Although online calculators provide good calorie intake estimates, Caroline Susie, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, recommends consulting with a dietitian to best determine your calorie needs and how to meet them. Health goals and medical history can play an important role in formulating a recommended diet in a way that can't be captured by an online calculator.

What is a calorie?

INCalorie is a unit of energy in food, ifølge National Institute of Health.

“And our bodies use the energy that comes from food to help us live our best lives and get through the day,” says Susietold USA TODAY.

1 gram of carbohydrates is 4 calories, 1 gram of protein is 4 calories and 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories.ifølge South Dakota Department of Health.

Beware of an extreme calorie deficit

One way to lose weight is to reduce calorie consumption, but experts warn against cutting back too much.

Susie said she encounters people who follow an extreme calorie deficit diet and consume less than 1,000 calories per day.

"It's just not enough to keep you excited in the long run," Susie said. “And the scary thing is that if it's that extreme and too low, you run the risk of certain vitamin and nutritional deficiencies.”

InResearch has shown that people consume too few caloriescan slow down your metabolism.

"I see a lot of people eating too little because they make a ridiculous calculation online," Christina Barth, a professor of health and nutrition at Arizona State University, told USA TODAY. "And they wonder why they're not losing weight. If you cut your calories too low, your body slows down. Your metabolism slows down."

How many calories should you eat per day? USDA guidelines for men, women and children (2024)


How many calories should you eat per day? USDA guidelines for men, women and children? ›

2200 calories is about right for most children over 6, teen girls, active women, and many sedentary men. 2800 calories is about right for teen boys and active men. **Children and teens ages 9 to 18 years and adults over age 50 need 3 servings daily; others need 2 servings daily.

What is the USDA recommended daily calorie intake for women? ›

Women need 1,600 to 2,400 calories a day, and men need 2,000 to 3,000 calories, according to the USDA's latest “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” report, released in 2020. Daily calorie needs for kids under 2 years old are between 700 and 1,000 calories.

What is the calorie intake for men women and children? ›

Calorie Intake Chart
Sex (at birth)Age (years)Active
Female4-8 9-13 14-18 19-30 31-50 51+1,400-1,800 1,800-2,200 2,400 2,400 2,200 2,200-2,200
Male4-8 9-13 14-18 19-30 31-50 51+1,600-2,000 2,000-2,600 2,800-3,200 3,000 2,800-3,000 2,400-2,800
Jan 23, 2024

How many calories a day do males and females require a day? ›

An ideal daily intake of calories varies depending on age, metabolism and levels of physical activity, among other things. Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake is 2,000 calories a day for women and 2,500 for men.

What is USDA nutrition guidelines? ›

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) is the cornerstone for federal nutrition programs and a go-to resource for health professionals nationwide. The Dietary Guidelines provides food-based recommendations to promote health, help prevent diet-related chronic diseases, and meet nutrient needs.

What are the USDA calorie needs by age? ›

Daily calorie needs for toddlers younger than 2 falls between 700 and 1,000 calories. Children aged 2 to 8 need between 1,000 and 2,000 calories, the report says. Daily calorie intake estimates vary widely for older children and teenagers, according to the USDA, with a range of 1,400 to 3,200.

How many calories do kids need per day? ›

Another way to generalize caloric need is that an infant needs 100cal/kg/day, ages 1 to 3 years need 80 kcal/kg/day, 4 to 5 years needs 70kcal/kg/day, 6 to 8 years needs 60 to 65 kcal/kg/day and 9+ needs 35 to 45 kcal/kg/day. Growth charts are vital in directing nutritional counseling in children.

What is the average calorie intake per day in the US? ›

Can you guess how many calories most Americans consume per day? According to some reports, the number is as high as 3,600. This figure has been on the rise for nearly half a century.

Is 1500 calories enough for a day? ›

According to the 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adult females require between 1,600 and 2,000 calories, and adult males between 2,000 and 2,400 calories, per day. Consequently, most people will lose weight following a 1,500- to 1,800-calorie diet.

How many calories a day is healthy for a man? ›

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended calorie intake for adult men ranges from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day. 3 Your specific calorie needs will vary, which is why the calculator is helpful.

What is the rule of thumb for calorie intake? ›

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults aged 19 to 59 consume 1,600 to 3,000 calories daily. More specifically, adult females require about 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, while adult males need around 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day.

How many calories should a man eat a day on a diet? ›

To shed 1 pound a week, he needs to reduce his calorie intake to 2,100 calories per day. Active: Men who are physically active and walk more than 3 miles daily need 2,800-3,000 calories per day to maintain weight and 2,300-2,500 calories per day to shed 1 pound a week.

What are the 4 USDA Basic Food Safety Guidelines? ›

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends following the four basic food safety steps:
  • Clean. Wash hands and surfaces often.
  • Separate. Don't cross-contaminate. ...
  • Cook. Raw meat, poultry, seafood, and egg products need to be cooked to the right temperature. ...
  • Chill. Refrigerate food promptly.
Apr 5, 2024

What were the first USDA Dietary Guidelines? ›

The guidelines, intended for healthy Americans age 2 and older, were based in part on the 1979 Surgeon General's Report and were published in 1980 as the first edition of Nutrition and Your Health: Dietary Guidelines for Americans (USDA and DHHS, 1980).

What are the 4 guidelines set forth in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans by the USDA? ›

Eat a variety of foods. Maintain healthy weight. Choose a diet low in fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Choose a diet with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and grain products.

Should a woman eat 1,200 calories a day? ›

It is generally recommended that women consume at least 1,200 to 1,300 calories per day to meet their basic nutritional needs. However, a healthy calorie intake for an adult woman is about 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day.

Do all women need 2,000 calories a day? ›

As a guide: an average man needs 2,500kcal a day. an average woman needs 2,000kcal a day.

What is the daily USDA recommendation for the percent of calories from fat? ›

The Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans limit total fat intake to 30 percent of calories.

How many calories should a 5 8 female eat per day? ›

Female Adults

According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, estimated calorie needs for adult women range from 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day.

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