Calories per day -- weight loss or maintenance

How many calories per day should you consume if you want to either lose weight or maintain weight?

We'll not only answer we'll also provide an option that is both easier and more effective than measuring portion sizes and calculating calories!

The number of calories for weight loss and the number of calories for weight maintenance depends upon individual factors such as age, health, activity level and so on.

So, if you want to maintain your present weight, go to the Section I below.

However, if you want to lose weight, as most people do, go to the Section II below.

For weight loss or weight maintenance, we provide free calorie counter charts. Print them out and use as daily guides. Their links are further down this page

So, let's find out more!

Section I: calories per day to maintain weight

According to the World Health Organization, to maintain weight a woman needs to consume about 2000 calories per day, and the figure for a man to maintain weight is 2500 calories per day.

It may be slightly higher (for example, 2100 calories for women) or slightly lower (for example, 2300 calories for men). It depends on the individual.

Assuming that you have access to food that is highly nutritious, simply divide the total number of calories required by the number of meals you eat. Since it’s best to eat a meal every 3 to 5 waking hours, it’s better to eat smaller meals more frequently than larger meals less frequently.

For example, if you are an adult male who only wants to maintain his weight and you eat 5 meals per day, ingest about 500 calories per meal. If you are an adult female who only wants to maintain her weight and you eat 5 meals per day, ingest about 400 calories per meal.

Instead of the usual three meals a day, simply add a mid-morning and a mid-afternoon meal while ensuring that each of the three usual meals has fewer calories than before. That will give you 5 meals daily. (The mid-morning and mid-afternoon meals could be “engineered” foods such as protein shakes.) It’s that easy.

Assuming that you eat well-balanced meals, this eating frequency will ensure that you don’t get too hungry. If you permit yourself to get too hungry, you’ll be tempted to eat too much.

It’s best to consume most of your calories from natural foods that are highly nutritious such as wild-caught seafood, grass-fed grazing animals, and (preferably organic) vegetables. Since these foods are the ones best suited to human beings, it’s healthiest to avoid foods that have only been consumed since the agricultural revolution and the domestication of animals (about 12,000 years ago).

Section II: calories per day to lose weight

Have you found it extremely difficult to lose fat and keep the extra pounds off? Do you have a history of yo-yo dieting? Does your percentage of body fat go up and down? Do you have insulin resistance (Syndrome X, impaired glucose tolerance)? Are you diabetic or pre-diabetic?

If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” it may be that you are trying to starve yourself to lose fat.

That may seem like a good idea. After all, according to the law of the conservation of energy, the calories in must equal the calories out, i.e., they must balance. A calorie is a measure of heat or energy.

However, as you may have already discovered for yourself, going on a near-starvation (restricted calorie) diet does not promote lasting fat loss. Such a diet will lower your leptin level in about a week to half of normal. That will signal your body to decrease its metabolic rate, which is the opposite of what you want.

Since it doesn’t work and is usually counter-productive, we recommend never going on a starvation diet. The truth is that all things being equal, many obese people eat fewer calories than many thin people. If voluntary weight loss were as simple as starving yourself, that could never happen.

We recommend (with your physician's prior approval you have diabetes) one cheat meal on your weekly cheat day. If you consume plenty of calories and carbs during those meals, you'll restore your leptin level to normal. Even then, however, please stop eating when hunger disappears; do not continue to eat until you feel stuffed.

On the other six days of the week, consume plenty of protein and fat from natural sources and keep your carb intake to below 25 grams daily. Drink plenty of water. Slight over-consumption of protein will signal to your body that times are good and will promote fat burning rather than fat storage.

So, on your cheat day only, you may exceed your allotted calories per day limit. Also, if you exercise, please do not take that as an excuse to overeat.

Counter charts to help you with calories per day

To help count calories per day, you may wish to print out our free calorie counter charts for fruit and vegetables. Some fruits and vegetables are much higher in calories and carbohydrates than others are. So, choose wisely. The page links are listed directly below.



It’s your choice in respect of calories per day

How you decide to eat is up to you. You may try starvation diets if you like, but please come back to this website when you are finally convinced that they won’t work for you. Furthermore, since you’ll probably wind up fatter than you were before, it’s unhealthy. Similarly, unless your physician prescribes and monitors it, never go on a fast or a semi-fast; it's simply not necessary for lasting weight loss.

The truth is that you never have to starve or endure food cravings to lose fat if you count carbohydrates rather than calories.

The kinds of calories you consume matters. The frequency of your meals matters. The quality and quantity of your physical activity (such as fitness training, strength training, or physical labor) matter. The way you manage stress and your thoughts matters. How well you sleep matters.

We encourage you to use the ideas on this website to improve your understanding so that you may attain lasting weight loss. If you lose weight properly, it’s nearly certain that you’ll become healthier and fitter; furthermore, you’ll feel a lot better and find yourself with much more energy.

Measuring calories is tedious and bothersome. Instead of doing that, we suggest keeping track of grams of proteins and grams of carbohydrates. The number of grams of proteins we recommend daily is equal to your lean body weight. (If you weight 200 lbs. and are 25% body fat, consume 150 grams of protein daily.) Spread the consumption over all your 4 to 6 small meals.

Except on a weekly cheat day, we recommend consuming no more than 25 grams of carbs daily.

You'll see that, after a week or two, this is much easier to do than measuring calories. You'll free yourself from ever worrying again about how many calories per day you are consuming. If you'll count instead grams of protein and carbs, worrying about calories per day is unnecessary.

In our many, many years of experience, the method we suggest is much more effective than worrying about calories per day. If you eat as we suggest [on the various low carb and Paleo low carb pages of this website], you'll lose fat without hunger or food cravings!

Recommended books for the calories per day page

The books are available at some good bookstores, especially and, usually in Kindle and paperback form, sometimes as hardbacks. If you found the calories per day informative, these books are excellent further reading suggestions.


  • Dr. Bradford, HOW TO EAT LESS -- EASILY!

  • Bennett & Sinatra, SUGAR SHOCK!

  • Dr.L. Cordain, THE PALEO DIET

On most pages of our website, we aim to recommend the very best books available according to the topic of each page. We endeavor to make the best suggestions based on experience and our many years of work and research in the fields of health and fitness. We suggest only books that we have read and can wholly commend.

An external link to a video for those who want to save it.

This completes the calories per day page. We hope you found the information useful and that it helps on your journey to health, weight loss, or weight maintenance.

› Daily Calories