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What is this?

Your body uses energy for basic bodily functions (like breathing and circulation, and food digestion and absorption) and during physical activity. The energy your body uses is counted as calories (measured in kilocalories or kcal).

 

Why is it important?

Balancing the calories you use with calories you consume can help you maintain a healthy body weight. Maintaining this balance can reduce your risk of obesity and various other serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea and cancer. Take charge by exercising daily and finding out how many calories are in your favourite foods and drinks. The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you’ll use.

 

Normative ranges

The number of calories needed each day can differ significantly from person to person, based on their age, gender, body composition and how physically active they are. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Healthy middle-aged adults have been shown to use an average of 2 071 kilocalories (kcal) per day.
  • The number of calories used daily decreases with age.
  • Men usually use more calories per day than women.
  • The more intensely you exercise, the more calories you’ll use in the same amount of time.

Have a look at the following reference table for daily calories used per weight group, age group and gender. How do you compare?


Age group

Averages for men

Averages for women


Weight (kg)
Total calories (kcal/day)
Weight (kg)
Total calories
(kcal/day)

Normal weight (body mass index: 18.5-25)
20-30
70.7
3 047
59.4
2 428
30-40
71.7
2 964
58.7
2 412
40-50
70.6
3 048
58.2
2 441
50-60
73.1
2 513
59.8
2 182
60-70
67.8
2 397
59
2 042
70-80
70
2 407
59
1 888
80-90
67.1
1 700
51.9
1 382
>90
65.6
1 935
52.2
1 356
Overweight
20-30
89.9
3 224
83.4
2 713
30-40
102.4
3 703
83.9
2 794
40-50
94.6
3 465
96.9
3 032
50-60
100.3
3 458
83.3
2 349
60-70
87.8
2 851
78.2
2 061
70-80
84.8
2 624
69.3
1 868
80-90
78.1
2 294
62.8
1 748
>90
77.5
1 863
74.8
1 766
References: Roberts and Dallal (2001); Food and Nutrition Board/Institute of Medicine (2002)