Individualized calorie needs for women are based on body weight.
Regular exercise won’t get you the weight loss results you want if you eat excess calories. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, 15 percent of U.S. households do not have the financial resources to obtain adequate food to meet their nutritional needs and 64 percent of U.S. women are overweight or obese. Consuming recommended allowances of calories each day is essential for healthy weight maintenance.
Women who are classified as active—at least according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture-are those who walk more than 3 miles per day, or participate in exercise equivalent to walking that distance. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 report that active women need 2, 000 to 2, 400 calories per day for healthy weight maintenance. According to Harvard Medical School, active women need about 18 calories per pound of body weight. This would be approximately 2, 160 calories per day for a 120-pound woman. Athletes generally have higher calorie needs. According to a study published in a 2009 edition of the “North American Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, ” collegiate women swimmers consume an average of 3, 229 calories per day.
Moderately Active Women
Moderately active women exercise the equivalent of walking 1.5 to 3 miles per day, and they require about 1, 800 to 2, 200 calories each day for healthy weight maintenance. Harvard Medical School suggests moderately active women need about 16 calories per pound of body weight each day, which is about 1, 920 calories per day for a 120-pound woman.
Sedentary women don’t participate in exercise outside of normal, day-to-day activities—such as house cleaning. Based on USDA guidelines, inactive women need about 1, 600 to 2, 000 calories per day for healthy weight management. To estimate a sedentary woman’s individualized calorie needs, multiply her body weight by 13. This equals about 1, 560 calories per day for a 120-pound, inactive woman.
Calorie reduction is the key to successful weight loss in overweight and obese women. For this group, 1, 000- to 1, 600-calorie diets are often effective, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Although consuming fewer than 1, 000 calories per day can lead to rapid weight loss, this requires medical supervision. For very obese or sedentary women, a simple way to estimate the number of daily calories you should consume for weight loss is to multiply your desirable body weight by 10, according to the University of Washington.