General Health Articles

How many calories do you need per day? Introducing calculation methods and recommended meals

Many people are concerned about the number of calories in their daily meals for health reasons. In recent years, it has become easier to grasp the calorie intake even when eating out or eating ready-made meals.
However, you need to be careful not to limit your calorie intake too much because you want to lose weight. Forcing yourself to lose weight when you don’t need to lose weight or restricting your diet to the extreme increases your health risks due to a calorie deficit.
In this article, we will introduce how to calculate the number of calories you need per day and recommended meals that allow you to take in just the right amount of calories for you.

Calories required per day can be estimated from age and activity level

A calorie is a unit of energy, and represents the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1L of water by 1°C under 1 atmospheric pressure.
Energy is needed to move our bodies, just like machines need energy to run.
The only sources of energy for humans are carbohydrates (sugars), lipids, and proteins from food. Calories are used to describe the amount of energy you take in from these nutrients and the amount of energy expended, such as through exercise.

The estimated number of calories you need per day is called your “estimated energy requirement.”
According to the Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2010 version) published by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in 2009, the definition of an individual’s estimated energy requirement is: “A person of a given age, sex, height, weight, and a healthy condition that does not impair Average daily habitual energy intake that is estimated to give the highest probability of an energy balance (energy intake minus energy expenditure in adults) of 0 in physically active individuals value.

Calorie intake and expenditure are important

Your daily calorie needs will vary depending on your individual requirements. People gain weight because they eat more calories than they need, and people lose weight because they don’t get enough calories.

However, if you want to lose weight to an appropriate level or maintain your current weight, it is not recommended to control only calorie intake to lose weight.
This is because, as mentioned above, calories are the energy source necessary for life. Continuing lack of or imbalance in the amount of food you eat can lead to energy shortages and malnutrition, which can lead to various health problems.
On the other hand, you need to be careful not to eat too much at each meal or snack too much. Unused calories will eventually be stored in your body as body fat, which can have a negative impact on your health.

In other words, whether you want to lose weight beyond your normal weight or maintain your current healthy weight, you need to be aware of your calorie intake as well as your calorie consumption and adjust your lifestyle habits.
If you just want to balance your calorie intake, you don’t need to do strenuous exercise. Even if you take in light exercise such as walking for about 10 minutes a day multiple times, or try to go a little overboard in your daily life, you will burn calories, so even people who do not exercise regularly can easily do it. can.
If you need to lose weight, try to keep your caloric intake within your estimated energy needs, exercise more, and balance your intake and expenditure to control your weight.

How to calculate calories needed per day

The energy required for human activity can be found by calculating the estimated energy requirement. Your estimated energy needs will vary depending on your age, gender, and daily activity level, so start by figuring out your conditions and calculating your numbers.

The estimated daily energy requirement is calculated by the following formula.

<Calculation formula for estimated energy requirement>
Estimated energy requirement (kcal/day) = basal metabolic rate (kcal/day) x physical activity level

Below is an overview of the basal metabolic rate and physical activity level needed to calculate your estimated energy requirement.

Basal metabolic rate

Basal metabolism is the energy required for life-sustaining activities such as “motivating the heart,” “regulating body temperature,” and “breathing.”
The basal metabolic rate is set according to age and weight. Check your basal metabolic rate based on your age and gender from the table below.

■ Japanese basal metabolic rate

ageBasal metabolic rate (kcal/kg body weight/day)Reference weight (kg)Basal metabolic rate (kcal/day)Basal metabolic rate (kcal/kg body weight/day)Reference weight (kg)Basal metabolic rate (kcal/day)
18-29 years old23.764.21,53022.150.31,110
30-49 years old22.568.11,53021.953.01,160
50-64 years old21.868.01,48020.753.81,100
65-74 years old21.665.01,28020.752.11,080
74 years old or older21.560.01,29020.748.81,010

Source: Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare “Dietary Reference Intakes for Japanese (2020 edition)” (December 2019)

physical activity level

Calculating your estimated energy needs also requires a number for your physical activity level.
Physical activity level is a quantification of the intensity of activity in daily life. It is classified into “Low (I)”, “Normal (II)”, and “High (III)” depending on the lifestyle and work content.
The specific figures and contents of daily life are as follows. Numbers in parentheses represent approximate ranges.

・Low (I): 1.50 (1.40-1.60)
I spend most of my life sitting. Active, but mostly static.

・Normal (II): 1.75 (1.60-1.90)
Mainly sitting work such as desk work, but includes standing and moving around in the workplace, and sometimes working while standing and serving customers. Alternatively, you are physically active through commuting, shopping, housework, light sports, etc.

・High (III): 2.00 (1.90 to 2.20)
Often moves and works standing. Alternatively, you have an active exercise habit, such as spending your leisure time playing sports.

Usually, most people fall under either “Low (I)” or “Medium (II).”

The estimated energy requirement is 1,400 to 2,000 kcal/day for less active adult females and 2,000 to 2,400 kcal/day for males.

How to calculate standard weight

When controlling your weight, aim for your normal weight. The standard weight is obtained by multiplying the value obtained by squaring the height (m) by 22. 22 is the median value of BMI (Body Mass Index), which is said to be the least susceptible to illness.

<Standard weight calculation formula>
Standard weight = Height (m) x Height (m) x 22

As an example, let’s calculate the standard weight of a person with a height of 160 cm.

<Standard weight of a person with a height of 160 cm>
1.6 (m) x 1.6 (m) x 22 = 56.32 (kg)

If a person with a height of 160 cm performs weight control, the target weight is 56.32 kg.

What is a diet that allows you to take in the necessary calories without excess or deficiency?

Let’s think about how to take specific meals based on the calculated estimated energy requirement.
The Dietary Balance Guide jointly developed by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is useful for knowing what and how much you should eat in a day.

The guideline for dietary balance is based on “adult females with normal levels of activity” and “adult males with low levels of activity due to desk work, etc.” The table below shows the ideal diet to achieve the basic recommended intake of 2200±200kcal.

■ Basic ideal meal content

meal timingMeal contents
breakfastStaple food: 1 piece of toast or 2 rolls
Side dish: vegetable soup or salad
Milk and dairy products: 1 glass of milk or cafe au lait
lunchStaple food: 1 medium serving of rice
Main dish: 1 slice of grilled mackerel
Side dish: Boiled (small bowl)
SnackFruit: 1 apple
dinnerStaple food: 1 medium serving of rice
Main dish: Stir-fried ginger pork with cabbage
Side dish: Lettuce and cucumber salad

In this way, it is ideal to take in “staple food”, “side dish”, “main dish”, “milk/dairy products”, and “fruit” in a well-balanced manner, and take in the total number of calories required for the day in three meals.
However, it is not easy to continue every meal and every day. There must be circumstances such as eating out at noon due to work, or lack of time in the morning and not worrying about nutritional balance.

If you eat rice bowls for lunch, reduce the staple food for dinner, or if you don’t have enough side dishes for breakfast, consciously increase the amount of vegetables in your lunch menu.
Also, in order to continuously control calories, it is important not to be too particular about the nutritional balance on a daily basis. If you think about nutritional balance in units of one week, you can easily work on it.
In the middle of the week or on the weekend, review your diet and try to eat more of the foods you’re lacking in order to adjust your eating habits in the long run.

Frozen home delivery bento with easy calorie control

If you find it troublesome to calculate the calorie count for every meal, or if you tend to eat a single meal on busy days, we recommend Nichirei Foods Direct’s Kikubari GozenⓇ, a frozen delivery lunch box that supports calorie control.

Kikubari GozenⓇ uses more than 100g of vegetables per serving, and all items are less than 300kcal. You can choose from a wide variety of Japanese, Western, and Chinese main dishes, such as meat and fish dishes, as well as a wide variety of side dishes that tend to be difficult to manage when cooking for yourself.
Keep it in the freezer and use it when you want to control calories or take a break from cooking.

Maintain a healthy weight by paying attention to the balance between intake and expenditure

In order to aim for a healthy weight, it is important not only to reduce calorie intake and lose weight but also to increase calorie consumption while properly consuming calories according to body weight and activity level. After figuring out the minimum number of calories you need per day, aim for a balance between calories consumed and calories burned.

Also, food is not just about calorie intake. When planning a menu based on your energy requirements for the day, we recommend that you use the “Food Balance Guide” as a reference and have a good balance of staple food, side dishes, main dishes, milk/dairy products, and fruit.
Let’s work on calorie control over the long term while incorporating frozen home delivery lunch boxes that allow you to enjoy nutritionally balanced meals in consideration of the calorie per serving.
How many calories does a man need per day? According to the “Dietary Balance Guide” jointly formulated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the daily calorie requirement (estimated energy requirement) of an “adult male with a low activity level due to desk work, etc.” is 2200±200 kcal. / days. How many calories does a woman need per day? According to the “Dietary Balance Guide” jointly formulated by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the daily calorie requirement (estimated energy requirement) for an “averagely active adult woman” is 2200±200 kcal/day.


Welcome to my blog. My name is Muhammad Hassaan. I am a blogger and have a knowledge of five years of blogging. I also belong to the field of health as a D pharmacy student. That's why I am running this health blog. I am very much interested to read articles on health and love to share information with other people and also get information from them. If you have any questions you can ask me through the contact us page. Thanks for Visiting us and Have a great day.

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