You Won’t Believe How Many Calories You Actually Need

It’s common knowledge that if you’re an active person you need more calories to fuel your body than someone who, say, sits at their computer writing stuff all day long. But how many calories should you be consuming in order to achieve optimal energy intake without it all going right to your thighs? Nathan Yau at Flowing Data recently compiled information from the US Department of Health and the 2009-12 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey into two graphs, showing our average calorie intake against the projected, recommended intake for our age/lifestyle.

The coloured lines are what we should be eating according to the data, while the grey shows the average caloric intake as it stands (according to the 2009-2012 survey).



Sedentary is a lifestyle consisting of no physical activity other than what is needed for living, moderate is 1.5 – 3 miles per day and active is… active. As you may expect, the average caloric intake for males is higher than females but what’s interesting is how much male intake spikes compared to female intake at the same point. Female average intake also peaks at 2000 calories and stays at or below that till age 80.

What’s very apparent though is that females tend to undereat based on their lifestyle, and males lean toward overeating. Active lifestyles for both genders have caloric intakes below the reported average, with females worse than males, but men of a moderately active lifestyle overeat from their mid twenties until their mid fifties.

By the looks of this data, I definitely need to renew that gym membership.