How Many Calories Should I Eat? We Break it Down For You According to Age Groups

Have you made the decision to try and eat healthier? Making the call to switch up your diet may be easy, but understanding what you should actually do can be a lot more challenging. With an endless number of diet plans available, what should you choose?

Rather than spend time focusing on a specific diet, a better option is to first gain an understanding of how many calories you should be eating each day. Even if you are looking to lose weight, choosing to cut as many calories as possible or skip meals is not the way to do it.

There are certainly differences to keep in mind when determining what your daily calorie intake should be, and one of the biggest factors is age. As we age our bodies change and as a result the number of calories we need changes as well. Other considerations like your gender and how active you are also play an important part.

calories a day

Once you understand the number of calories you should be eating each day, you can start to build a meal plan that takes that number into consideration.


We will be focusing on women when it comes to these numbers, so keep that in mind (sorry men- we’ll get you next time!) There are fairly significant differences between men and women when it comes to the amount of calories they need, so it is worth it to consider both your gender and your age.

Age range: 18-22

As you will come to find out, the younger you are, the more calories you should be consuming daily, and the number will slowly drop off as you age. If you are young, between the ages of 18 and 22, you should be consuming between 1,800 and 2,400 calories. That is a pretty big range, and how you can determine what is best for you is to also consider how active you are. If you live more of a sedentary lifestyle and get little or no exercise, you should eat around 1,800 calories. If you are moderately active, you should be eating between 2,000-2,200 calories daily. If you are  very active, you should be eating 2,400 calories.

Age range: 23-30

For women in this age range, you won’t notice a big difference from the previous age bracket. The overall range is typically between 2,000 and 2,400 calories. Again, those who are sedentary should stick to around 2,000 calories, moderately active women should consume around 2,200 calories, and very active women should consume 2,400.

If you are at the end of this age bracket (say between 28 and 30 years old), you can tweak these numbers slightly. If you are not active at all, you can stick with eating 1,800 calories and if you are moderately active a good number to stick to is 2,000 calories.

Age range: 31-50

Now that you are a bit older (but still very young!) you will notice a slight drop in the amount of calories you need to consume daily. The range for this age bracket is between 1,800-2,200. Sedentary women this age should consume 1,800 calories, moderately active women 2,000 calories, and very active women 2,200 calories.

Notice that this age bracket is much larger than the previous ones. Based on your lifestyle you can craft an excellent meal plan that you will be able to stick with for years. If you do not exercise at all, but during this time in life start to get more active, you can bump up your calories to that second bracket.

Age range: 51-60

Another slight drop in the number of calories you need happens once you turn 50. If you do not exercise at all, you should consume around 1,600 calories. Moderately active women this age should consume 1,800 calories, and very active women should consume 2,200 calories.

The difference is small, but it is important when building a healthy diet that will work right for you. No woman likes to admit it, but as you get older, you will notice that it can be harder to lose weight and also easier to put weight on (not fair!) As our bodies age and our metabolism slows down, keeping these numbers in mind can help you stay at the weight you want- and one that is healthy for you!

Age range: 61+

This is the last major number change that you will notice. Once you hit 61 years of age, the amount of calories you will need going forward will pretty much stay the same. For women this age who do not exercise, consume around 1,600 calories. If you are moderately active, you need around 1,800 calories. If you are very active at this age, you should be eating around 2,000 calories.

There you have it! This should give you a much better idea of how many calories you actually need to be eating on a daily basis. These numbers were taken from the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (or CNPP) and are good baseline numbers to consider.

As with anything health related, always consult with your doctor to determine what is right for you. These numbers do not take into consideration any medical issues or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Always speak with your doctor and determine what is healthiest for you. If you are not pregnant or breastfeeding and are healthy, these numbers should work well for you.

With this knowledge, you can now build a healthier, but balanced, diet that will get you on the right path to a happier and healthier life! Gone are the days of cutting calories and cutting meals. We know now that that is not the right way to go about getting healthier- give your body what it needs and you will be well on your way to the body you want!

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