Eating Well As You Get Older

Frequently Asked Questions

5. What are calories and how many should I consume each day?

Calories are a way to measure the energy you get from food. They give your body the fuel it needs throughout the day. The number of calories you need daily depends on how old you are, whether you're a man or woman, your height and weight, and how active you are.

Consuming the right number of calories for your physical activity level helps you control your weight. The more physically active you are, the more calories you might be able to eat without gaining weight. (For information about exercise and older adults, go to http://nihseniorhealth.gov/
exerciseforolderadults/toc.html
).

A woman over age 50 should consume about

  • 1,600 calories a day if her physical activity level is low (only performs activities associated with typical day-to-day life)
  • 1,800 calories daily if she is moderately active (walks the equivalent of 1.5 to 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles per hour)
  • 2,000 to 2,200 calories daily if she has an active lifestyle (walks the equivalent of more than 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles per hour).

A man over age 50 should consume about

  • 2,000 to 2,200 calories a day if his physical activity level is low (only performs activities associated with typical day-to-day life)
  • 2,200 to 2,400 calories daily if he is moderately active (walks the equivalent of 1.5 to 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles per hour)
  • 2,400 to 2,800 calories daily if he has an active lifestyle (walks the equivalent of more than 3 miles a day at 3 to 4 miles per hour