What is the average calorie intake for women?
The average woman needs to consume roughly 2000 calories in order to maintain her weight. However, this number is just a guideline and individual calorie requirements will vary.
The following factors determine calorie intake for women:
- Her body size – the larger a persons body size, the more energy they require. A short light-weight woman will need fewer calories than a tall heavy woman. Also, the more muscular a woman is, the more calories she will need.
- Her activity levels – the more you exercise, the more calories you need. A woman who runs for 45 minutes four times a week will need to eat many more calories than a woman who leads a sedentary lifestyle.
- Her age – in general, the younger you are, the more calories you require. As you get older, your metabolism begins to slow down and you require fewer calories.
Even though the average woman needs 2000 calories, this might not be the right number for you. If you eat 2000 calories per day when you really need 2500 calories, you will begin to lose weight over time. Conversely, if you eat 2000 calories when you really need 1500 calories, you will begin to gain weight over time.
Your best option would be to use the tool below to calculate a relatively accurate estimate of your calorie requirements.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
For example, a 20 year old woman who weighs 70 kg (154 lb), is 180 cm tall and exercises 5 times a week should aim to consume approximately 2400 calories in order to maintain her current weight.
On the other hand, a 55 year old woman who weighs 55 kg (121 lb), is 160 cm tall and exercises twice a week should aim to consume approximately 1500 calories in order to maintain her weight.
It is important to obtain calories from a variety of nutrient dense foods, so as to prevent deficiencies in vitamins and minerals.
There are 3 macro-nutrients that you require in your diet: carbohydrate, protein and fat. Eating each of these in sufficient amounts is necessary for good health.
Carbohydrate (or carbs) provides 4 calories per gram. The carbs in your diet come in three forms: sugar, starch and fiber.
Sugars such as glucose, fructose and lactose are found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk. Starch is found in foods such as potatoes & parsnips and is made up of many sugar molecules that have been linked together. Fiber is found in the cell walls of many different plant based foods including nuts, vegetables and fruit.
Your body needs carbohydrate because it is a source of energy. After you eat a carbohydrate rich food, the carbs are broken down into glucose, which is absorbed into the bloodstream. It then acts as a fuel source for cells in your body.
Excess glucose is converted into glycogen, a reserve energy source, which is stored in your muscles and liver. If your glycogen stores are full, excess glucose is converted into fat and stored around various parts of your body.
You should aim to obtain most of your carbs from foods that have not been processed much and are as close to nature as possible. These are known as complex carbs and provide a steady release of energy. They also tend to be high in fiber, vitamins and minerals. Examples of these foods include vegetables, fruits, oats, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.
The USDA recommends that 45 – 65% of daily calories should come from carbs. The amount of carbohydrate that you should eat will depend on your activity levels, metabolism and overall goals.
Just like carbohydrate, protein provides 4 calories per gram. Proteins are the building blocks of life and dietary protein is needed by the body for a large number of functions. Every cell in your body contains protein and it is used for repair and regeneration.
Eating sufficient amounts of protein is needed for the growth and repair of muscle tissue, weight management, blood sugar level stabilization and bone health.
Proteins are made up of compounds known as amino acids. Your body is unable to produce certain amino acids and needs to obtain them from the food that you eat. These are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine, also known as the essential amino acids.
Animal sources of protein such as eggs, meat and fish provide all nine amino acids and are known as complete protein sources. Most plant based sources of protein only supply some of the essential amino acids and are known as incomplete protein sources (though there are a few exceptions).
It is recommended that women get at least 46 grams of protein per day. The actual amount of protein that a woman should eat will depend on her activity levels, muscle mass, age, physical goals and current state of health. Women who lead active lifestyles and regularly lift weights require significantly more protein than women who lead sedentary lifestyles.
Whether you eat meat, are vegetarian or vegan, there are lots of protein rich foods to choose from. These include lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, some vegetables, fish and meat.
Fat has 9 calories per gram, which means it provides more than twice the amount of energy that protein and carbs do, when compared weight for weight.
Like carbs, fat is also a source of energy for the body. Additionally, it provides essential fatty acids such as omega-3 and helps with the absorption of certain fat soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K.
Eating fat does not necessarily make you fat, so you should not fear it. You begin to gain weight when you consume more calories than you require and those calories can come from carbs, protein or fat.
The USDA recommends that 20 – 35% of total calories that you eat should come from fat.
Some healthy fat rich foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, olives, salmon and coconut oil.
The average woman needs to consume roughly 2000 calories in order to maintain her weight, but your individual requirements may be different. The calories that you consume should come from high quality carbohydrate, protein and fat, which means that you should aim to eat a wide variety of nutrient dense foods.