How Many Daily Calories Do I Need?

Woman jogging at beach with smartwatch.
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Question: How Many Daily Calories Do I Need?

"I've been running 4 miles a day and I want to make sure I'm getting enough calories to fuel my runs. I'm 150 pounds and am moderately active when I'm not running. How can I estimate my daily calorie requirements?"

Calculating Your Daily Calorie Needs

Here's a simple way to get a rough estimate of your calorie needs to maintain weight and properly fuel your workouts.

1. Determine your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) – the energy you need for basic life functions. Multiply your body weight by ten. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, 150 x 10 = 1,500. Your RMR is 1,500.

2. Determine your overall activity level (not including exercise). If you're very active, add 60% - 70% to your RMR. If you're moderately active, add 50%. And if you're generally sedentary (desk job), add 30% - 40%. Since you're saying you're moderately active, we’ll use the middle of the range. So 1500 + (1,500 x 50%) = 1500 + 750, or 2,250.

3. Add your workout calories. Figure 100 calories per mile (running or walking) -- this just is an approximation, but should be fairly accurate regardless of your pace. If you're running four miles a day, then 4 x 100 = 400, and 2,250 + 400 = 2,650. So, on days that you're running 4 miles, you need about 2650 calories to maintain your weight and properly fuel your workouts.

Obviously that will change if you're running more or less.

See these charts if you don't want to do the math, they break it out by age, gender and height for moderately active adults:
Calories Per Day Charts: check your calorie needs for a moderately-active adult.

Burn Meter Calculator

You can also use this online calculator from to find you daily calories burned.

It's handy if you don't want to do the math yourself. You can use English or Metric units and enter your gender, age, current weight, height and activity level. The activity levels include sedentary, light activity, moderate activity and very active, with guidelines for each.
Daily Calories Calculator -

More Information About Daily Calorie Requirements

If you're hoping to lose weight with running , keep in mind that a pound equals 3,500 calories. So you would need to create a 3,500 calorie deficiency with exercise or calorie cutting. A safe, healthy weight loss rate is about one to two pounds per week. If you lose weight faster than that, you may be losing muscle in addition to fat.

To average one pound lost per week, you need to create a 500 calorie deficiency, either through exercise or calorie cutting, per day. So, in the above example, if the runner continues with running 4 miles a day and limits her calorie intake to 2,150 calories, she'll lose about a pound a week.

Keep in mind that if you do lose weight, you'll need to recalculate your daily calorie needs since your lower weight means you won't need as many calories. also has a Weight Loss Calculator that can help you find the right number of calories to eat each day to reach a weight loss goal. You set your current weight and goal weight and then enter your goal date, gender, age, height and activity level.

Weight Loss Calculator -


M D Mifflin, S T St Jeor, "A new predictive equation for resting energy expenditure in healthy individuals." Am J Clin Nutr February 1990 vol. 51 no. 2 241-247 

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