Calculating Required Calorie Intake and Managing a Balanced Diet

[icon name=”user” class=”” unprefixed_class=””] Margaret Ward, MS

There is no doubt that a proper diet is crucial to maintain overall health and well-being. Along with the term diet,one frequently also hears the dreaded word caloriebut what exactly is a calorie and what correlation does it have in creating a balanced diet?

According to Merriam-Webster, a calorie is a unit equivalent to the large calorie expressing heat-producing or energy-producing value in food when oxidized in the body. Calories are crucial in managing energy balance, and the number of calories needed to maintain this equilibrium vastly varies from person to person. Age, gender, energy output, and goals for weight loss (or gain) are all factors dependent on calorie intake.

There is a plethora of calorie calculators available online with each based on varying equations:

  • Harris-Benedict Equation: An estimation of the total calorie needed. It was updated in 1984 to determine both metabolic rate rate and total calories.
  • Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR): Based on the Mifflin-St Jeer equation and is used to calculate the resting metabolic rate and total calories.
  • Schofield Equation (BMR): Previously used as government guidelines to define the recommended daily allowances (RDAs), and can be used to calculate the basal metabolic rate and total need calories.
  • Institute of Medicine Equation: This is the latest equation using the Institute of Medicine equation-estimated energy requirement (EER) estimation of total needed calories.

In September 2002, the Institute of Medicine developed EER (estimated energy requirement) predictive equations, which were later used to formulate the new dietary guidelines for the United States. An EER is the average dietary energy intake that is predicted to maintain energy balance in healthy, normal weight individuals of a defined age, gender, weight, height, and level of physical activity consistent with good health (1, 2). This is calculated from gender, age, and activity level for individuals using average heights and weights for each age and gender group. Table 1 illustrates the estimated number of calories needed to maintain calorie balance for children, females, and males of different ages and three differing activity levels (sedentary, moderately active, and active). These estimates are rounded to the nearest 200 calories (2). It is important to note that is only a guide, and an individuals need may be higher or lower than these average estimates.

Table 1. Estimated Calories Needed per Day by Age, Gender, and Physical Activity Level (a)

[custom_table]

Physical Activity Level

Gender

Age

Sedentary (b)

Moderately Active (c)

Active (d)

Child

(Male or Female)

2-3

1,000-1,200 (e)

1,000-1,400 (e)

1,000-1,400 (e)

Female (f)

4-8

1,200-1,400

1,400-1,600

1,400-1,800

9-13

1,400-1,600

1,600-2,000

1,800-2,000

14-18

1,800

2,000

2,400

19-30

1,800-2,000

2,000-2,200

2,400

31-50

1,800

2,000

2,200

51+

1,600

1,800

2,000-2,200

Male

4-8

1,200-1,400

1,400-1,600

1,600-2,000

9-13

1,600-2,000

1,800—2,200

2,000-2,600

14-18

2,000-2,400

2,400-2,800

2,800-3,200

19-30

2,400-2,600

2,600-2,800

3,000

31-50

2,200-2,400

2,400-2,600

2,800-3,000

51+

2,000-2,200

2,200-2,400

2,400-2,800

[/custom_table]

a. Based on Estimated Energy Requirements (EER) equations, using reference heights (average) and reference weights (healthy) for each age/gender group. For children and adolescents, reference height and weight vary. For adults, the reference man is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds. EER equations are from the Institute of Medicines Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids; Washington (DC): The National Academies Press; 2002.

b. Sedentary means a lifestyle that includes only the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

c. Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5-3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

d. Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than 3 miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour, in addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

e. The calorie ranges shown are to accommodate needs of different ages within the group. For children and adolescents, more calories are needed at older ages. For adults, fewer calories are needed at older ages.

f. Estimates for females do not include women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Source: HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.

Overall, individuals are consuming too many calories and not getting enough exercise. Successfully maintaining a proper calorie balance is needed to achieve and sustain a healthy weight, and can only be accomplished through controlling total calorie consumption and increasing physical activity. One of the most important components to a balanced diet is choosing a mix of nutrient-dense foods and beverages. Nutrient-dense foods are those with an abundance of nutrients, but low in calories. Currently, the general population consumes too many foods that are high in sodium and dense in calories with low nutritional content such as non-solid fats, added sugars, and refined grains. Some examples of nutrient-dense foods and beverages include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products, seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, beans and peas, and nuts and seeds (2).

In order to maintain a balanced diet, one must focus on six main food groups: fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy, protein, and fats when planning each meal. Age, sex, and level of physical activity determine the amount food one needs to consume from each of these food groups. The recommended total daily amounts for each food group are illustrated in the Tables 2-7 below. Please note that these amounts are appropriate for individuals who exercise less than 30 minutes per day beyond normal daily activities. As previously discussed, those who are more physically active may be able to consume more while staying within calorie needs (Table 1).

Table 2. Daily Recommended Amounts of Fruits (a)
[custom_table]

Age (years) Daily Fruit Recommendation (cups)
Children 2-3

4-8

1

1-1.5

Girls 9-13

14-18

1.5

1.5

Boys 9-13

14-18

1.5

2

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

2

1.5

1.5

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

2

2

2

[/custom_table]

a. Fruit sources include, but are not limited to, apple and applesauce, banana, cantaloupe, grapes, grapefruit, mixed fruit, orange, peach, pear, pineapple, plum, strawberries, watermelon, dried fruit (such as raisins, prunes, apricots, etc.), and 100% fruit juice (such as orange, apple, grape, grapefruit, etc.).

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov (last updated: 27 July 2015).

Table 3. Daily Recommended Amounts of Vegetables (a)
[custom_table]

Age (year) Daily Vegetable Recommendation (cups)
Children 2-3

4-8

1

1.5

Girls 9-13

14-18

2

2.5

Boys 9-13

14-18

2.5

3

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

2.5

2.5

2

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

3

3

2.5

[/custom_table]

a. Vegetable sources include, but are not limited to, dark green vegetables (broccoli, collards, kale, spinach, and watercress), red and orange vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, red peppers, tomatoes, and squash), bean and peas (black, garbanzo, kidney, and pinto), and starchy vegetables (corn, green peas, and white potatoes).

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, (last updated: 27 July 2015).

Table 4. Daily Recommended Amounts of Grains (a)
[custom_table]

Age (years) Daily Grain Recommendation

(ounce equivalents)

Children 2-3

4-8

3

5

Girls 9-13

14-18

5

6

Boys 9-13

14-18

6

8

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

6

6

5

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

8

7

6

[/custom_table]

a. Grain sources include whole grains and refined grains. Refined grains include, but are not limited to, biscuits, and cornbread. Whole grains include, but are not limited to, bulgar, oatmeal, and popcorn. Some sources are available in both whole grain and refined grain forms such as bagels, breads, bulgar, crackers, muffins, pancakes, ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, tortilla, pasta, and rice. Whenever possible, it is always better to choose whole grains over refined grains.

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, (last updated: 27 July 2015).

Table 5. Daily Recommended Amounts of Dairy (a)
[custom_table]

Age (years) Daily Dairy Recommendation (cups)
Children 2-3

4-8

2

2.5

Girls 9-13

14-18

3

3

Boys 9-13

14-18

3

3

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

3

3

3

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

3

3

3

[/custom_table]

a. Dairy sources include, but are not limited to, milk, yogurt, cheese, and soy milk.

Note: Even vegetarians and vegans can achieve the recommended amounts with proper meal planning. For those who do not consume animal products, kale leaves are a good source of calcium as are a variety of green vegetables including bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, and okra. In addition, there are many food products are also fortified with calcium such juices, cereals, breads, and nondairy milks (almond, rice, and soy).

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, (last updated: 27 July 2015).

Table 6. Daily Recommended Amounts of Protein (a)
[custom_table]

Age (years) Daily Fat Recommendation

(ounce equivalents)

Children 2-3

4-8

2

4

Girls 9-13

14-18

5

5

Boys 9-13

14-18

5

6.5

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

5.5

5

5

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

6.5

6

5.5

[/custom_table]

a. Protein sources include, but are not limited to, lean beef, lean pork or ham, poultry (chicken and turkey), seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds, beans and peas.

Note: Vegetarians and vegans can achieve the daily recommended amount of protein through consumption of non-animal products such as nuts and seeds, beans and peas, and soy products such as tofu.

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, (last updated: 27 July 2015).

Table 7. Daily Recommended Amounts of Fat (a)
[custom_table]

Age (years) Daily Fat Recommendation (teaspoons)
Children 2-3

4-8

3

4

Girls 9-13

14-18

5

5

Boys 9-13

14-18

5

6

Women 19-30

31-50

50+

6

5

5

Men 19-30

31-50

50+

7

6

6

[/custom_table]

a. Healthy fat sources include, but are not limited to, olive oil, avocado, peanut butter, peanuts, cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds.

Source: USDA, ChooseMyPlate.gov, (last updated: 27 July 2015).

A healthy diet is an integral part of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Even though proper planning is required to ensure all the proper nutrients are consumed on a daily basis, it is well worth the work. Eating healthy does not only help one achieve and sustain a healthy weight, but it also improves quality of life by lowering the chances for heart disease and premature death.

References:

  1. United States Department of Agriculture. National Agricultural Library. Food and Nutrition Information Center. Available at: https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/
  2. HHS/USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010.
5 Responses to "Calculating Required Calorie Intake and Managing a Balanced Diet"
  1. Write much more, i mean many I’ve got to state. Basically, seems like as though you observed for the video clip to generate ones place. You certainly know what youre talking about, the reason why throw away your own brains upon simply just posting video clips for a blog site while you could be providing people a thing enlightening to learn?

    • The interested people do find me when they are ready to learn. By implementing the tools I provide for each individual, they have achieved what we all want: good health and happiness

  2. Nice post. I learn something more challenging on different blogs everyday. It will always be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice a little something from their store. I’d prefer to use some with the content on my blog whether you don’t mind. Natually I’ll give you a link on your web blog. Thanks for sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


x
1
Post Remaining