How many calories do I need to maintain my weight?

Use this formula to calculate how many calories you need to maintain your current weight:

Step 1: Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the minimal number of calories your body needs just for daily survival. A simple method is to multiply your weight (in pounds) by 10.

Step 2: Calculate the number of calories you need for basic activities of daily living, excluding exercise, by multiplying your results from Step 1 by 20% to 30%.

Step 3: Add 100 calories for every 10 minutes of hard exercise or workout time.

Here is an example for a 200-pound athlete who practices for three hours per day:

Step 1: BMR = weight x 10 = 200 x 10 = 2,000 calories
Step 2: BMR x 20% to 30% + 2,000 = 2,000 x 0.20 = 400 + 2,000 = 2,400; 2,000 x 0.30 = 600 + 2,000 =2,600
Step 3: Total caloric needs = Step 2 result + 100 x 180 minutes
Total caloric needs = 2,400 + 1,800 = 4,200 calories per day.

(This answer provided for NATA by the Appalachian State University Athletic Training Education Program.)

Ask your doctor how many calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, as calorie needs vary from person to person. If you need to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you eat.

Some healthy weight-loss tips:

  • Eat a variety of foods including lean protein, complex carbohydrates, omega-3 fats from fish and monounsaturated fats from avocados, nuts, and olive oil.
  • Remember to eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day.
  • Avoid trans fats, saturated fats, and animal fats. This includes fried foods and most fast-food meals.
  • Remember portion control. If you must eat seconds, try fruit.
  • Exercise an hour a day.
  • Be aware of the labels on fat free foods.

For more information, go to:

Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

An easy rule of thumb is to multiply your weight by a factor of 11. If you are younger than 30 years old, you can multiply by 12. This is the number of calories you should consume each day to maintain your current weight. If you exercise, you can add the number of calories you burn to the calories you can eat and your weight will stay the same. An average person burns 200 calories for every 30 minutes of a brisk walk.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.