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The amount of calories that you burn each day depends on several factors, including your height, weight, and activity level. Determining your daily calorie needs can help you reach your health goals.
Every day, you burn calories when you move around, exercise, and go about your daily tasks.
Most female adults need 1,600–2,200 calories per day, while adult males need 2,200–3,000 calories per day. However, the amount of calories you need each day is unique to your body and activity levels (
Calories are important for basic bodily functions, such as:
- circulating blood
- cell processes
You also burn additional calories from everyday movements, as well as exercise, which can vary considerably from person to person. If you’ve ever wondered how many calories you burn each day, the Mifflin-St Jeor formula can help you figure this out.
This formula calculates your resting metabolic rate (RMR), also known as your resting energy expenditure, which is the number of calories your body needs to function at rest.
With one more calculation, which considers your activity levels, you can work out how many calories you need each day to maintain your current weight. Eating fewer calories than this will likely result in weight loss, while eating more calories than this will likely lead to weight gain.
This article teaches you how to calculate your calorie needs based on your health goals.
The number of calories you should burn in a day largely depends on your personal health and fitness goals, as well as other factors like your age, sex, height, weight, and activity levels.
To lose weight
To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. This means you’re either eating fewer calories than your body needs, burning additional calories, or a combination of both.
For sustainable weight loss, an ideal calorie deficit will be around 10–20% fewer calories than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).
Let’s say that your body needs 2,200 calories per day. A calorie deficit of 10–20% would be 1,760–1,980 calories per day (Equation: 2,200 – (2,200 × 0.1) = 1,980 or 2,200 – (2,200 × 0.2) = 1,760).
While you can achieve weight loss quicker with a larger calorie deficit, it may be difficult to sustain long term since it will likely lead to significant hunger. Your body may employ mechanisms to prevent further weight loss, such as sluggishness or a reduced metabolic rate (
Furthermore, too large of a deficit can lead to loss of lean muscle. A mild calorie deficit paired with resistance training can help preserve lean muscle mass while also promoting fat loss (
That said, weight loss can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as age, genetics, hormones, medical conditions, and medications. Therefore, you may need to work with a healthcare professional who can develop personalized recommendations for you (
To maintain weight
If you’re looking to maintain your weight, you’ll want to ensure your calorie intake matches your calorie expenditure.
To figure this out, you’ll need to calculate your TDEE, which is the number of calories your body needs to sustain the weight you’re currently at.
If you notice that you’re gaining weight, this is likely a sign that you’re either consuming more calories or expending fewer calories than you intend to. If you’re losing weight, you’re liking not eating enough calories or expending too many calories.
To gain weight
If you want to gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus. This means that you’re either eating more calories than your body needs, expending fewer calories, or a combination of both.
As in the case of a calorie deficit, you’ll want to do this slowly to ensure it’s healthy and sustainable. A mild calorie surplus of around 10–20% will allow for slow, gradual weight gain.
If your calorie needs are 2,200 calories per day, a calorie surplus of 10–20% would be 2,420–2,640 calories per day.
While it may seem obvious to eat a very large amount of calories and limit your physical activity, this strategy isn’t ideal, as it will likely lead to excessive fat accumulation and removes the important health benefits of exercise (
Ideally, choose nutrient-dense foods that are higher in calories to support gradual weight gain. Examples include:
- whole milk, yogurt, etc.
- protein shakes
- nuts, seeds, and their oils
- rice and other whole grains
- salmon and other oily fish
- meal replacement drinks as a snack
If you struggle to eat large meals, you may want to eat smaller meals more frequently. You may also want to cut back on your physical activity if you’re extremely active. For example, you may wish to reduce the time, frequency, or intensity of your exercise.
In some cases, your healthcare professional may want you to gain weight quicker, so be sure to listen to their advice.
The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is an easy way to calculate how many calories you need to eat per day, and it’s considered one of the most accurate formulas. It’s adjusted based on your sex, age, height, and weight to give a personalized estimation (
This equation was first published in 1990 as an updated formula that better predicts a person’s energy expenditure than the previously used Harris-Benedict equation (
Once you calculate your resting metabolic rate (RMR), you can multiply this figure by an activity factor based on your daily activity level — ranging from sedentary to very active — to find out the number of calories you need to consume each day to maintain your weight.
The next sections will tell you how to do these calculations. If you’re looking for a quick answer, you can use our handy online calculator to do the legwork for you.
Step 1. Calculate RMR
Your RMR is the number of calories your body needs to function, and it does not include your daily physical activity and other movements. To calculate your RMR, use your sex, age, height, and weight to adjust the formula.
The formulas for calculating this number are as follows, using kilograms for weight, centimeters for height, and years for age (
For males, use the following equation:
- 9.99 × weight + 6.25 × height – 4.92 × age + 5 = RMR for males
For example, a 40-year-old, 180-pound (81.6-kg), 6-foot (183-cm) tall man has a BMR of 1,767. This means that, at rest, he’ll burn approximately 1,769 calories in a day (Equation: (9.99 × 81.6 kg) + (6.25 × 183) – (4.92 × 40) + 5 = 1,767).
For females, use the following equation:
- 9.99 × weight + 6.25 × height – 4.92 × age – 161= RMR for females
For example, a 40-year-old, 150-pound (68-kg), 5’6” (168-cm) woman has a RMR of 1,372 (Equation: (9.99 × 68 kg) + (6.25 × 168) – (4.92 × 40) – 161 = 1,372).
Keep in mind that this number calculates your RMR, or resting energy expenditure, which does not account for any movement throughout the day. You would not use this as the final number for your calorie needs.
Step 2. Work out your activity level
From there, you must figure out your activity level. The activity levels the equation uses are as follows (11):
- 1.2, or sedentary (little to no exercise)
- 1.375, or lightly active (light exercise 1–3 days per week)
- 1.55, or moderately active (moderate exercise 3–5 days per week)
- 1.725, or very active (hard exercise 6–7 days per week)
- 1.9, or extra active (very hard exercise, training, or a physical job)
For example, a postal worker who walks all day for their job would have an activity level of 1.725depending on the length and difficulty of their route.
A desk worker who walks several times a week for exercise would have an activity level of 1.55.
Step 3. Use the full equation
Putting everything together, the Mifflin-St Jeor equation is as follows:
- RMR × activity level = calories needed to maintain weight
A 150-pound (68-kg) female who’s extra active will need 2,611 calories to maintain their weight (Equation: 1,372 (RMR) × 1.9 (activity level) = 2,607 calories).
A 180-pound (81.6-kg) male who’s moderately active will need 2,742 calories to maintain their weight (Equation: 1,767 (RMR) × 1.55 (activity level) = 2,739 calories).
As you can see in the above examples, a person’s activity level has a lot to do with how many calories they need each day.
Many people think they need to exercise hard to burn calories throughout the day.
While exercise does burn a lot of calories, your body also burns calories while you’re doing normal daily tasks. How much you burn has to do with how much you weigh.
For example, people will burn the following number of calories in 30 minutes of doing these tasks based on their weight (12):
|Task||125-pound (56.7-kg) person||155-pound (70.3) person||185-pound (83.9-kg) person|
|walking at 4.5 mph||150||186||222|
|cleaning the gutters||150||186||222|
|mowing the lawn||135||167||200|
|washing the car||135||167||200|
|walking at 4 mph||135||167||200|
|walking at 3.5 mph||120||149||178|
|playing with the kids (moderate activity)||120||149||178|
|grocery shopping (with cart)||105||130||155|
|sitting in meetings||49||60||72|
|light office work||45||56||67|
|standing in line||38||47||56|
Note that your exercise habits affect how many calories you burn at rest. While aerobic activity may burn more calories during the training session, researchers have found that resistance exercise increases resting metabolic rate for up to 14 hours after exercising (13,
You can use an interactive online calculator to find out how many calories you’ll burn while doing different activities. To use it, simply input your activity, the time spent doing it, and your weight.
Yes, males and females burn calories at different rates. This is why sex is included as a variable in the equation, along with age and weight, which also affect the number of calories a person burns.
People assigned male at birth generally have less body fat than people assigned female at birth. They also tend to have more muscle mass. More muscle means the body burns a higher number of calories while at rest.
So, generally, males usually burn more calories than females overall. That said, a person’s body composition plays an important role, as do hormone levels.
(Video) How to Count Your Calories to Lose Weight Fast and See Results! No More Excuses!
Losing weight isn’t always as simple as plugging numbers into a calculator.
The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off in the long term is to follow a balanced lifestyle that includes:
- following a well-balanced diet
- engaging in regular exercise
- getting adequate quality sleep
- effectively managing your stress levels
Some people also find these tips can help when they’re trying to lose weight:
- reading labels to learn the nutritional facts about the foods you eat
- keeping a food diary to see what you eat in a day and identify areas for improvement
- choosing lower calorie options when choosing foods, such as skim milk instead of whole milk, air-popped popcorn instead of chips, and thin crust pizza instead of thick crust
- reducing processed, high calorie, nutrient-poor foods like candy, cookies, and chips
- being mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating
- putting food on a plate rather than eating it straight from the bag
- using smaller plates and bowls
- eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly
- waiting at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds
- making small, sustainable changes instead of favoring a crash diet
- wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch to monitor your activity levels
Shop for food diaries to help get you started.
And check out the best calorie counter websites and apps here.
If you’re struggling to gain or lose weight, you may want to see a healthcare professional who can provide personal recommendations.
If you aren’t losing weight despite increasing your physical activity and decreasing your food intake, you may want to visit your primary care professional.
They can assess your current lifestyle habits, medications you’re taking, any medical conditions, family history, and other factors that may be preventing you from losing weight.
You may also be referred to other specialists, such as a registered dietitian, who can provide a detailed assessment of your diet and give personalized suggestions to help you achieve weight loss based on your unique situation.
If an underlying hormonal condition is suspected, such as hypothyroidism, they may refer you to an endocrinologist.
If you can’t put on weight or are losing weight unintentionally, it’s important that you speak with your primary care professional as soon as possible. In some cases, this could be a sign of an underlying condition like hyperthyroidism or cancer.
They may also refer you to a registered dietitian who can assess your diet and provide suggestions to increase your calorie intake in a healthy way, or a physical therapist who can help you build muscle.
The amount of calories you need each day is unique to your body, lifestyle habits, and health goals.
While the average male and female need roughly 2,200–3,000 and 1,600–2,200 calories per day, respectively, your needs may differ depending on your height, weight, and activity level.
Learning how to calculate your individual calorie needs is a good way to know whether you’re on track with your health and fitness goals, such as losing, maintaining, or gaining weight.
That said, if you’re looking for personalized recommendations or struggling to achieve specific health goals, talk with a healthcare professional who can give a more thorough assessment.
How many calories do you burn in a day without exercise? ›
On average, a person will burn at least 1800 calories a day without exercise. To lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. Caffeine supplements can help you achieve this state by boosting your BMR to promote fat burning.How many calories do I burn a day at rest? ›
A more recent reference found that RMR in sedentary adults can range from less than 1200 to more than 3000 calories per day in both men and women.How many pounds will I lose burning 500 calories a day? ›
Example: If you exercise more to burn an extra 500 calories each day, you'll lose about one pound of fat in a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).How to lose 2 pounds a week? ›
Generally to lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, you need to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you consume each day, through a lower calorie diet and regular physical activity. Depending on your weight, 5% of your current weight may be a realistic goal, at least for an initial goal.How many calories does 10,000 steps burn? ›
Have you been power walking your way to 10,000 steps a day? Good for you! It takes 20 steps to burn 1 calorie, therefore walking 10,000 steps burns off about 500 calories, which can then be added to your total calorie budget for the day.How many resting calories do you burn? ›
We burn approximately 75-100 calories when we rest and do nothing. A person who is standing or fidgeting will burn more calories per hour than someone who is sitting. If an individual does nothing, they will burn approximately 0.48 calories per pound of weight or 0.05 calories per kilogram of weight per hour.How do I know how fast my metabolism is? ›
- Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)
- Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)
In general, if you cut about 500 calories a day from your usual diet, you may lose about ½ to 1 pound a week. But this can vary depending on your body, how much weight you want to lose, your gender and activity level. It sounds simple.Will I lose weight eating 1200 calories a day without exercise? ›
Therefore, individuals who cut their daily intake to 1,200 calories can expect to lose some weight. This can be beneficial for people who are overweight or obese. Some research suggests that a low calorie diet, such as a 1,200 calorie diet, offers additional health benefits.What is the highest calorie burning exercise? ›
According to Healthline, running burns the most calories. A tried and true exercise that requires little more than your legs and the open road, running burns just over 800 calories for a 155-pound adult per hour.
What exercise burns most calories in 30 minutes? ›
Calories burned in 30 minutes:
Generally, running is the best calorie-burning exercise. But if you don't have enough time to go on a run, you can shorten your workout into high-intensity sprints. Your body will rapidly burn calories to fuel your workout.
Walking at speed of 4 MPH for 90 minutes will help you burn 500 calories.
- Eat a healthy diet. Focus on plant-based foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and choose lean sources of protein and low-fat dairy products. ...
- Replace sugary beverages. ...
- Keep portion sizes in check. ...
- Include physical activity in your daily routine.
While it's easy to be swayed by fad diets, quick promises, and cleanses, it is actually possible to lose 5 pounds in two weeks through healthy eating and exercise.Is losing 7 pounds in 2 week healthy? ›
According to many experts, losing 1–2 pounds (0.45–0.9 kg) per week is a healthy and safe rate (1, 2, 3 ). Losing more than that is considered too fast and could put you at risk of many health problems, including muscle loss, gallstones, nutritional deficiencies and a drop in metabolism ( 4 , 6 , 7 , 8 ).How long can a 200 pound person go without food? ›
Your body can meet the majority of your calorie requirements from stored fat, but total starvation is fatal in 8-12 weeks, regardless of initial body weight.How to burn 1,000 calories in 30 minutes? ›
An interval session consisting of 30-second bouts of sprinting in between five-minute segments of jogging can burn 1,000 calories in less than 30 minutes. According to the American Physiological Society, research shows that sprint interval training can burn 200 calories in just 2.5 minutes.What happens if you eat 1,000 calories a day? ›
However, other studies show that while consuming 1,000 calories a day may result in significant weight loss, most people cannot sustain it and often experience significant weight regain . The reasons include regaining lost muscle mass and increased appetite. Also worth noting is that the human body can adapt.What exercise makes you lose weight the fastest? ›
- Walking. Walking is one of the best exercises for weight loss — and for good reason. ...
- Jogging or running. Jogging and running are great exercises to help you lose weight. ...
- Cycling. ...
- Weight training. ...
- Interval training. ...
- Swimming. ...
- Yoga. ...
How Many Calories Do You Burn While You Sleep? As a very approximate number, we burn around 50 calories an hour. View Source while we sleep. However, every person burns a different amount of calories during sleep, depending on their personal basal metabolic rate.
What foods help you burn calories? ›
Here are 11 healthy foods that help you burn fat.
- Fatty Fish. ...
- MCT Oil. ...
- Coffee. ...
- Eggs. ...
- Green Tea. ...
- Whey Protein. ...
- Apple Cider Vinegar. ...
- Chili Peppers.
- Greek yogurt protein shake. As noted above, having protein before bed—especially if you've worked out beforehand—helps stimulate the repair and rebuilding of muscle (muscle protein synthesis) while you sleep. ...
- Chamomile tea. ...
- Red wine. ...
- Kefir. ...
- Soy-based protein shake. ...
Get a good night's sleep. Perhaps the easiest way to burn more calories every day requires the least amount of energy—how fun is that? It's sleeping—something we should all aim to do at least seven hours a day. “Sleep actually helps your body run better,” explains Roger E.What should I eat at night to lose weight? ›
- A small bowl of plain yogurt topped with berries.
- A low-fat, sugar-free protein shake.
- A handful of nuts.
- Two tablespoons of peanut or other nut butter and an apple.
- Coconut yogurt topped with a handful of nuts or berries.
Set a new daily calorie goal to create a 1,500 per day deficit. 3 lb (1.4 kg) is equal to 10,500 calories, which means you'll need to cut 1,500 calories per day using diet and exercise. Once you know how many calories you burn in a day, subtract 1,500 from it to get your daily calorie goal.Has anyone lost weight walking 10,000 steps a day? ›
With the help of a Fitbit fitness tracker she started counting steps, and today, at age 35, she's lost nearly 100 pounds. Here's what it took to reach that 10,000-step benchmark every day. Hitting 281 pounds was a wakeup call. I knew I had been gaining weight, but I hadn't realized how much.How long to burn 1,500 calories walking? ›
Calories burned walking by miles
Burning 1,500 calories requires walking 17.8 miles which is 50.8% further compared to the distance needed to burn 1,000 calories.
- Make A Commitment. ...
- Cut Your Caloric Intake. ...
- Up Your Protein Intake. ...
- Eat More Fibre. ...
- Plenty Of Sleep. ...
- Avoid Refined Carbs. ...
- Increase The Intensity Of Your Workouts. ...
- Drink More Water.
- Beans. “Becoming a bean lover can help you lose weight and whittle your middle,” registered dietitian Cynthia Sass told Today. ...
- Swap your beef for salmon. ...
- Yogurt. ...
- Red bell peppers. ...
- Broccoli. ...
- Edamame. ...
- Diluted vinegar.
Mostly, losing weight is an internal process. You will first lose hard fat that surrounds your organs like liver, kidneys and then you will start to lose soft fat like waistline and thigh fat. The fat loss from around the organs makes you leaner and stronger.
How many calories do you naturally burn in one day? ›
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025, the average adult woman expends roughly 1,600 to 2,400 calories per day, while the average adult man expends 2,000 to 3,000.How many calories do you burn at rest in 24 hours? ›
This means that, at rest, he'll burn approximately 1,769 calories in a day (Equation: (9.99 × 81.6 kg) + (6.25 × 183) – (4.92 × 40) + 5 = 1,767). For females, use the following equation: 9.99 × weight + 6.25 × height – 4.92 × age – 161= RMR for females.How many calories does a body at rest burn in 24 hours? ›
The average person burns around 1800 calories a day doing absolutely nothing. For example, according to the Healthy Eating Guide (opens in new tab), sitting burns an estimated 75 calories per hour. This number will vary however.How to burn 2,000 calories a day? ›
If you are an athlete wondering how to burn 2000 calories a day -or an average person looking to see how far you can push your body-, some recommended workouts that could help you achieve this goal include jumping rope, swimming, Zumba dance classes, aerobics (including water aerobics), cycling, HIIT and more.How many calories do I burn sleeping? ›
As a very approximate number, we burn around 50 calories an hour. View Source while we sleep. However, every person burns a different amount of calories during sleep, depending on their personal basal metabolic rate.How many steps to burn 3,500 calories? ›
Some claim that individuals can lose a pound of fat a week just by taking 10,000 steps a day because of the potential to burn 3,500 calories from walking.What does burning 1,000 calories look like? ›
Running continuously at 8 mph for an hour will burn 1000 calories, and running and sprinting continuously for 45 minutes can burn 1000 calories. How much do I have to walk to burn 1000 calories a day? You need to walk for about 120 minutes at 6 mph to burn 1000 calories in a day.How to burn 700 calories in an hour? ›
Running. If you can run at a speed of 11 miles an hour for 30 minutes, you'll burn approximately 705 calories. However, this is a very intense pace, so if you can't quite make the cut, don't worry. Reduce your speed to a leisurely 5 miles an hour and burn the same amount of calories during an hour-long jog instead.Does thinking burn calories? ›
While the brain represents just 2% of a person's total body weight, it accounts for 20% of the body's energy use, Raichle's research has found. That means during a typical day, a person uses about 320 calories just to think. Different mental states and tasks can subtly affect the way the brain consumes energy.What burns fat while you sleep? ›
- Drink a casein shake. ...
- Sleep more. ...
- Eat cottage cheese before bed. ...
- Resistance training. ...
- Eat small meals throughout the day.
Do you burn more calories awake or asleep? ›
You burn more calories awake in bed compared to being asleep. It's thought your basal metabolic rate, the amount of calories you burn just to do basic functions, is 15% lower when asleep than when awake resting.What burns more calories at rest? ›
"Individuals with higher muscle mass tend to burn more calories at rest than those with less, since muscles require a lot of energy," explained Scarfo.What is the fastest way to burn calories? ›
Running is the winner for most calories burned per hour. Stationary bicycling, jogging, and swimming are excellent options as well. HIIT exercises are also great for burning calories. After a HIIT workout, your body will continue to burn calories for up to 24 hours.What are some fat burning foods? ›
- Fatty fish.
- MCT oil.
- Green tea.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Chili peppers.
- Oolong tea.
For example, if your body burns 2000 calories a day, reducing your intake to 1500 calories a day should result in a loss of around 1lb a week. This might seem like a slow weight loss, but it's actually what's recommended by the NHS, as losing 1-2lbs a week is healthy and sustainable in the long term.