One of the most common searches on the internet is for how many calories we should consume per day. Today we’d like to explain you how to calculate your recommended daily calorie intake and the formulas used to obtain the final figure. Want to join?

At AXA Health Keeper there are endocrinologists and nutritionists who can give you personalised advice to clear up any questions you have. Sign up here.

Daily recommended calorie intake

Every day we need to consume sufficient food to give us the calories we need to perform our daily business. This energy comes from the nutrients in the food, in other words, the carbohydrates, the lipids, and the proteins.

Carbohydrates and proteins account for 4 kilo-calories per gram and fats 9 kilo-calories per gram.

Vitamins and minerals provide no calories, but are just as important to ensuring biological functions are maintained.

A balanced diet is one consisting of the essential nutrients in the correct amounts. This means approximately 55% carbs, 30% fats and 15% proteins.

Every individual requires a different calorie intake to carry out their bodily functions. This number of calories will vary depending on age, weight, height, and amount of exercise done per day. So an old man who barely moves won’t burn the same amount of calories as a 10-year-old, or a professional footballer, right?

Let’s look at how these calories are calculated.

Calculation of basal daily calorie intake: BASAL METABOLIC RATE

All living beings need a certain amount of calories per day to stay alive. In other words, just breathing, moving, digesting food or pumping blood around the body requires energy. This is your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

There are many different ways to calculate your daily minimum calorie requirements, i.e. your BMR, according to your age, sex, weight and height. One of the best known and most used is the Harris-Benedict formula, which we’ve discussed before.

BMR Female: 665 + (9.5 x weight in kg) + (1.8 x height in cm) – (4.6 x age)

BMR Male: 66.4 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.7 x age)

This is the original formula. It has been recalculated and updated as follows:

BMR Female: (10 x weight) + (6.25 x height) – (5 x age) – 161

BMR Male: (10 x weight) + (6,25 x height) – (5 x age) + 5

For example:

A woman who is 170cm, 65 kilos and 40 years old has a BMR of: 1351

A man who is 180 cm, 75 kilos and 40 years has a BMR of: 1680

These figures refer to the minimum daily intake a person needs for their body to survive, but you need to add the extra energy required according to your level of physical activity, if you do sports, climb stairs, study, or clean windows.

Daily recommended calorie intake by activity

Whether your lifestyle is sedentary or very active, you need to add more or fewer calories to your BMR:

  • If you don’t do any exercise or your job is sedentary: BMR x 1.2

  • If you do light exercise 2 days a week: BMR x 1.375

  • If you do moderate exercise, about 4 days a week: BMR x 1.55

  • If you do normal sports 6 days a week: BMR x 1.725

  • If your an elite athlete or do intense training every day: BMR x 1.9

You should also take into account whether your work is physical (builder, farmer, policeman…) or if you move very little at work, or walk a lot, if you stand for many hours, if you do a lot of housework…

Remember that not all sports have the same calorie expenditure:

  • Basketball – in 30 minutes you burn 258 calories.

  • Aerobics – in 30 minutes you burn 178.

  • Skating – in 30 minutes you burn 300.

  • Running – in 30 minutes you burn 350 calories.

  • Martial arts – in 30 minutes you burn about 360 calories.

Meanwhile, not all everyday activities require the same energy input:

  • Climbing stairs burns 350 calories in 30 minutes.

  • Driving burns 50 calories in 30 minutes.

  • Ironing burns 200 calories in 30 minutes.

  • Cleaning the windows burns 250 calories in 30 minutes. Wax on, wax off!

Daily calorie intake to lose weight

If you want to lose weight, you need to reduce your calorie consumption or increase the number of calories you burn by doing more sports. In reality, the best answer is a mix of both.

Thus if you want to slim down, you need to subtract about 15-20% from your BMR. This will give you a new total for the number of calories to consume per day. Note that your meals should still be balanced and complete, so reduce the calories by switching out high-calorie and unnecessary foods (sweets, soft drinks, fast food, alcohol…) for fresh produce (fruit and veg).

If you have any questions, see your doctor. That way you can ensure you’re doing things correctly. Learn to eat well and don’t forget to do exercise with AXA Health Keeper.