How Many Calories Should I Eat at Each Meal?


The Los Angeles Times in July 2009 reported on a study by the National Institute of Health, which stated a low-caloric diet in primates decreased the risks of cancer, diabetes and heart disease by two-thirds. Caloric intake is essential to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. However, many factors need to be considered before sticking to a magic number.

A low calorie diet can help you to lose weight.
A low calorie diet can help you to lose weight. (Image: Elena Elisseeva/iStock/Getty Images)

Caloric Misconceptions

Recommended calories for an adult woman can range from 1,500 to 2,300; and for men, 1,800 to 2,500. However, the numbers can be misleading. Many factors such as age, height, weight, health condition, physical activity (or lack of) and weight goal (gain, lose or maintain) are to be considered. A young, healthy woman who engages in intense activity six days a week needs to consume close to 2,000 calories per day in order to replenish and refuel her body. But an older man with diabetes who is looking to lose weight needs to consume no more than 1,650 calories per day. Even in these two examples, the other contributing factors also need to be considered.

An easy way to figure out a personal caloric number is to find a calorie calculator online that takes into consideration all the factors, and type in the numbers. These easy calculations can define how many calories are needed.

Find an online calorie counter.
Find an online calorie counter. (Image: Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Getty Images)

Caloric Distribution

Once the number of daily calories is calculated, it is important to distribute them throughout the day. In order to develop a strong metabolism and satisfy hunger, calories must be scattered in each meal and snacks. The body has difficulty breaking down high-caloric meals all at once. Instead of digesting and circulating them in the body as energy, it can often be stored as fat.

Distribute your calories as meals and snacks throughout the day.
Distribute your calories as meals and snacks throughout the day. (Image: Mani Babbar/iStock/Getty Images)

Caloric Meal Distribution Example

Although spreading the caloric intake throughout the day is key, it is helpful to eat more calories early in the day. For example, 1,700 calories can be divided as the following: 450 calories for breakfast 150 calories for snack 550 calories for lunch 150 calories for snack 400 calories for dinner

By eating more calories early in the day, more energy is being used and burned, which is essential to both weight loss and maintenance.

Lunch may be your biggest meal of the day.
Lunch may be your biggest meal of the day. (Image: Jill Chen/iStock/Getty Images)


Calories should always be viewed as fuel for the body. The body needs a certain amount in order to sustain itself. However, it is crucial the calories come in the form of real, natural, healthy foods that also provide necessary carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals. Many foods today are loaded with calories that come from various forms of sugar--as a sweetener or as refined white carbs like bagels or pasta. Empty calories, like sodas and dessert coffee drinks, are also a waste as they do not have any nutritional value and only lead to detrimental health conditions.

Limit your sugar intake.
Limit your sugar intake. (Image: Vassiliy Vassilenko/iStock/Getty Images)

Calori Deficiency Warning

Caloric deficiency also is a problem without knowing the proper amount of calories needed. Not eating enough calories can lead to risks endangering the heart, brain, and in extreme cases, death.

Be sure that you are getting enough calories.
Be sure that you are getting enough calories. (Image: Liv Friis-Larsen/iStock/Getty Images)

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