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The number of calories you burn each day depends on several factors, including your height, weight, and activity level. Determining your daily calorie needs can help you reach your health goals.

You burn calories daily when you move around, exercise, and do your daily tasks.

Most female adults need 1,600–2,200 calories per day. Most male adults need 2,200–3,000 calories per day. However, the number of calories you need daily is unique to your body and activity levels.

This article teaches you how to calculate your calorie needs based on your health goals.

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is a way to calculate how many calories you need to eat per day. It’s adjusted based on your sex, age, height, and weight to give a personalized estimation.

The starting point of the calculation is to find out your resting metabolic rate (RMR). Your RMR is the number of calories your body needs to function. It does not include your daily physical activity and other movements.

Once you calculate your RMR, you can multiply this figure by an activity factor based on your daily activity level — ranging from sedentary to very active — to determine the number of calories you need daily to maintain your weight.

Step 1: Calculate RMR

To calculate your RMR, use your sex, age, height, and weight to adjust the formula.

The formulas for calculating this number are kilograms for weight, centimeters for height, and years for age.

  • For people assigned male at birth: 9.99 × weight + 6.25 × height – 4.92 × age + 5
  • For people assigned female at birth: 9.99 × weight + 6.25 × height – 4.92 × age – 161

Step 2: Work out your activity level

Then, figure out your activity level. The activity levels the equation uses are as follows:

  • 1.2: Sedentary (little to no exercise)
  • 1.375: Lightly active (light exercise 1–3 days per week)
  • 1.55: Moderately active (moderate exercise 3–5 days per week)
  • 1.725: Very active (hard exercise 6–7 days per week)
  • 1.9: Extra active (very hard exercise two or more times per day, training, or a physical job)

Step 3: Use the full equation

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is:

  • RMR × activity level = calories needed to maintain weight

Simply multiplying the two values will produce an estimate of daily caloric expenditure.

The number of calories you should burn in a day depends on your personal health and fitness goals as well as other factors, like:

  • age
  • sex
  • height
  • weight
  • activity levels

To lose weight

Losing weight requires a calorie deficit. This means eating fewer calories than your body needs, burning additional calories, or combining both.

For sustainable weight loss, an ideal calorie deficit is around 500–750 fewer calories than your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE).

To maintain weight

If you want to maintain your weight, you’ll want to ensure your calorie intake matches your expenditure.

You’ll need to calculate your TDEE, which is the number of calories your body needs to sustain your current weight.

To gain weight

To gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus. This means you’re eating more calories than your body needs, expending fewer calories, or combining both.

As with a calorie deficit, you’ll want to do this slowly to ensure it’s healthy and sustainable. A mild daily calorie surplus of around 300–500 calories allows for slow, gradual weight gain.

A person’s activity level has much to do with the number of calories they need daily.

Many people think they must exercise hard to burn calories throughout the day. While exercise burns many calories, your body also burns calories as you do daily tasks. How much you burn has to do with how much you weigh.

For example, people may burn close to the following in 30 minutes of doing these tasks based on their weight:

Calories burned in 30 minutes

Task125-lb (56.7-kg) person155-lb (70.3-kg) person185-lb (83.9-kg) person
walking at 4.5 mph150186222
cleaning the gutters150186222
mowing the lawn135167200
washing the car135167200
walking at 4 mph135167200
walking at 3.5 mph120149178
playing with the kids (moderate activity)120149178
grocery shopping (with cart)105130155
sitting in meetings496072
light office work455667
computer work415161
standing in line384756
watching television232833

Note that your exercise habits affect how many calories you burn at rest. While aerobic activity may burn more calories during the training session, researchers have found that resistance exercise increases resting metabolic rate for up to 14 hours after exercising.

You can use an interactive online calculator to find out how many calories you’ll burn while doing different activities. To use it, simply input your activity, the time spent doing it, and weight.

Yes, men and women burn calories at different rates. This is why sex is included as a variable in the equation, along with age and weight, which also affect the number of calories a person burns.

Men generally have less body fat than women. They also typically have more muscle mass, which means the body burns more calories at rest.

Men generally burn more calories than women overall. But a person’s body composition plays an important role, as do hormone levels.

How many calories do I naturally burn per day?

The number of calories you burn daily can vary based on many factors, including your sex assigned at birth, height, and weight.

  • For people assigned male at birth: 9.99 × weight (kg) + 6.25 × height (cm) – 4.92 × age + 5 = RMR
  • For people assigned female at birth: 9.99 × weight (kg) + 6.25 × height (cm) – 4.92 × age – 161 = RMR

How many calories do 10,000 steps burn?

The number of calories burned by walking 10,000 steps can vary depending on your sex, weight, and how long it takes. Walking faster generally burns more calories. You can use the following equation:

Calories burned per minute = 0.0175 x metabolic equivalent of task (MET) x weight in kilograms

How many calories do you burn doing nothing per hour?

A broad 2014 literature review assessed 397 estimates of RMR and found that the mean amount of calories burned per hour at rest was 0.863 kcal per kg of body weight.

The number of calories you need each day is unique to your body, lifestyle habits, and health goals.

While the average person needs roughly 2,200–3,000 and 1,600–2,200 calories per day, your needs may differ depending on your height, weight, and activity level.

Calculating your calorie needs can help you know whether you’re on track with your health and fitness goals.

If you’re looking for personalized recommendations or need support with specific health goals, you can talk with a healthcare professional who can give a more thorough assessment.