How Many Calories Do You Need to Maintain Your Weight?

In order to maintain your weight, the calories that you consume and the calories that you expend must be equal. While keeping this in mind, the question becomes: how do you know how many calories you need in order to balance out the calories you burn?

The number of calories that you need to maintain your weight will vary depending on your age, sex, height, weight, and activity level. In order to determine your maintenance calories, you must determine the number of calories that you burn in a day by calculating TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).

If your goal is to maintain your current weight, it is important that you are accurate in your calculations, as any inaccuracies could result in you gaining weight or losing weight unintentionally.

In this article you will learn:

  • How to calculate your calories for maintaining your weight
  • Factors to consider when maintaining your weight
  • Do the types of calories that you consume matter for maintaining weight?
  • How to properly track calories and activity levels for maintaining weight

How To Calculate Your Calories for Maintaining Your Weight

how to calculate your calories for maintaining your weight

In order to calculate the number of calories that you need to maintain your weight, you must first determine how many calories that you are burning in a day. In order to do this, you must determine what your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) is.

Your TDEE consists of your:

  • Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)
  • Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)
  • Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)
  • Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

 Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories that your body burns in order to sustain its basic functions. An individual’s BMR will vary depending on how old they are, their sex, along with their height and weight.

You can calculate your BMR by using this simple formula:

  •  Men: (88.4 + 13.4 x weight) + (4.8 x height) – (5.68 x age)
  • Women: (447.6 + 9.25 x weight) + (3.10 x height) – (4.33 x age)

If you want to make things even easier, you can calculate your BMR using an online calculator, such as this one here.

For example, if you are a 30-year-old 150 pound woman who is 5’4” tall, your BMR would be about 1385 calories. Keep in mind that this number does not account for any other calories that this woman will burn in a day.

2. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

The Thermic Effect of Food is the rise in metabolic rate that occurs in your body as a result of the ingestion and digestion of certain foods. This is one of the many factors that contribute to your TDEE.

Since properly calculating the thermic effect of the food you are eating requires a closed lab setting, it is not realistic to determine the TEF for every single thing that you are eating in a day.

However, the general estimate is that the TEF can account for about 10% of your total daily expenditure

For example, if we take the above example of the 30 year old woman, we would multiply her

BMR by 0.1% in order to determine roughly how many calories she burns in a day through TEF.

BMR=1385 Calories 1385 x 0.1= 138.5 calories burned through the thermic effect of food.

3.Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT)

While it is important to consider the number of calories your body burns by simply existing, we cannot leave out the calories that you burn in a day from your physical activity. This includes your Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT) 

Your EAT is the number of calories that you burn while intentionally exercising, and while there is no precise calculation that we can make in order to determine how many calories you burn in a workout, the general rule is that calorie burn during exercise can range between 250-500 calories depending on the type of workout.

For example, if the 30 year old woman mentioned above was to do a light-moderate workout for one hour, we could estimate roughly a 250 calorie burn.

If this same woman was to take part in an intense workout lasting an hour or more, she could burn roughly around 500 calories.

For this example, we will assume the 30 year old woman in the example has completed a moderate workout that lasted under an hour, which means she burned around 250 calories through EAT.

4.Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

Another contributor to the calories you burn in a day through physical activity are the calories that you expend through daily activities such as walking, standing, or sitting. This is known as your Non- Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) 

The general estimation to calculate your NEAT is again, anywhere between 250-500 calories depending on how active you are at your job and throughout the day. For example, if you have a sedentary desk job you may burn closer to 250 calories, while a job that requires more activity may burn closer to 500 calories per day.

Keep in mind that these are general estimations, and if you are on the extreme side of either end of the spectrum (either extremely sedentary or extremely active) these numbers may need to be increased/ decreased depending on your situation.

If we assume that the 30-year-old woman in the original example has a sedentary desk job, then we can roughly estimate that she burns around 250 calories per day through NEAT.

Overall TDEE Calculation 

Therefore, with the information above, we can calculate the 30 year old woman’s TDEE by adding up the following:

BMR (1385) + TEF (138.5) + EAT (250) +NEAT (250) = TDEE of 2023.5 calories a day

Now that we know this woman’s TDEE, we can conclude that in order for her to maintain her weight, she must consume about 2023.5 calories in a day.

If you want to try a faster and more efficient way to calculate your TDEE in order to calculate your maintenance calories, you can always try an online TDEE calculator. 

By using an online calculator such as this one here, you will be able to see how many calories you need to maintain your weight based on your current height, weight, age, and average physical activity level.

Maintaining Your Weight: Calories Needed

The following calculations are based on a moderately active 30-year-old male with a height of 5’9”, and a moderately active 30-year-old female with a height of 5’4”. 

For exact calculations, please use the methods described above. 

CURRENT BODYWEIGHTAVERAGE NUMBER OF CALORIES NEEDED (MALE)AVERAGE NUMBER OF CALORIES NEEDED (FEMALE)
100lb20571697
105lb20901731
110lb21231764
115lb21561797
120lb21901830
125lb22231863
130lb22561897
135lb22891930
140lb23231963
145lb23561996
150lb23892030
155lb24222063
160lb24562096
165lb24892129
170lb25222162
175lb25552196
180lb25882229
185lb26222262
190lb26552295
195lb26882329
200lb27212362
205lb27552395
210lb27882428
215lb28212462
220lb28542495
225lb28872528
230lb29212561
235lb29542594
240lb29872628
245lb30202661
250lb30542694
255lb30872727
260lb31202761
265lb31532794
270lb31862827
275lb32202860
280lb32532893
285lb32862927
290lb33192960
295lb33532993
300lb33863026

Factors To Consider When Maintaining Your Weight

factors to consider when maintaining your weight

There are 6 main factors to consider when you are looking to calculate your calories in order to maintain your weight. 

These factors are your:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Height and weight
  • Activity Level
  • History of Dieting
  • Underlying health conditions

1. Age

Your age is an important factor to consider when you are calculating your maintenance calories. This is because the older you get, the fewer calories that you burn. In fact, as you age your BMR decreases due to loss of skeletal musculature and an increase of fat tissue.

Since there is nothing that you can do about getting older, it is encouraged to practice weight lifting exercises in order to maintain as much muscle mass as you can and help mitigate muscle loss that happens as you age.

2. Sex

Another consideration when you are calculating your maintenance calories is if you are a male or a female. This is because males typically have a higher BMR in comparison to females, therefore their maintenance calories will be higher.

Men generally tend to have more lean muscle mass in comparison to women, which allows them to burn more calories even while at rest. While your sex is not something that you can manipulate or change, it should be taken into consideration when you are calculating your maintenance calories.

3. Height and Weight

Two elements that play a large role in how many calories you need to maintain your weight are your height and your weight.

While height is a fixed variable in the BMR equation, it is important to factor in because the taller you are, the more surface area your body has. This will require a taller person to eat more calories in comparison to a shorter person if they want to maintain their weight.

Your current body weight is very important to consider when you are looking to calculate your maintenance calories due to the fact that the heavier you are, the more calories that you will need to maintain your weight.

More specifically, your BMR and the number of calories your body burns is directly related to your lean body mass. Not only is your current weight a factor, but your body fat percentage will also determine how many calories your body expends.

For example, if you have 2 people who weigh 150 pounds, but one has a body fat percentage of 15% while the other has a body fat percentage of 30%, the individual with the lower body fat percentage is going to have a higher BMR, meaning they will burn more calories in a day.

With this information, we can conclude that if you have a lower body fat percentage and a higher amount of lean body mass, your daily calorie expenditure is going to be higher than if you had high amounts of body fat. This will cause your maintenance calories to increase.

4. Activity Level

The amount of activity that you take part in during the day can have quite a large impact on the total amount of calories that you burn in a day. Not only do you want to count the calories that you burn through exercise (EAT), but you also want to factor in the calories you burn through your daily activities or job (NEAT).

This is important to remember because even if you are going to the gym 5 days a week and doing a one-hour workout, if you are extremely sedentary the rest of the day, this will affect your overall calorie expenditure throughout the day.

If you want to increase the number of calories that you burn throughout the day in order to increase your maintenance calories, it is recommended that you aim to be active in different ways throughout your day outside of your workout. 

For example, instead of taking the elevator at work, you could take the stairs. Another way to increase your activity level in a day would be to park further away from the front door of the store you are visiting, which will increase the amount of walking that you will do.

5. History of Dieting

If you have recently been in a calorie deficit, or you have a long history of dieting and eating less than your maintenance calories, the TDEE that you calculate for yourself may not be entirely accurate.

This is due to the fact that when we calorie restrict, especially for an extended period, the metabolism can adapt and slow down, causing the total number of calories that we burn in a day to decrease.

If you have calculated your maintenance calories but find that you are gaining weight on these calories, it may be because your metabolism has decreased from previous calorie deficits. This can be a difficult scenario as there is no way to calculate this into your BMR or TDEE.

If you have a history of dieting, your maintenance calories may now be lower than you once thought. If you wish to increase your maintenance calories, you can always try a reverse diet. You can calculate your reverse diet macros here.

Related Article: 1000 Calorie Deficit: Is It Healthy & How Much Can You Lose?

6. Underlying Health Conditions

When you are calculating your maintenance macros, it is important to keep in mind that your calculation based on your TDEE might not be accurate if you have an underlying health condition that affects how many calories your body burns.

For example, if you are a 30 year old 150 pound woman who is 5’4” tall, your BMR would be about 1385 calories. Keep in mind that this number does not account for any other calories that this woman will burn in a day.

However, if you have a health condition such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) or hypothyroidism, this could affect the way your body burns calories due to hormonal imbalance. If this is the case, it is recommended that you seek medical advice in order to address any imbalance that may be going on within the body.

Does The Type of Calories Consumed Matter for Maintaining Weight?

Does the type of calories consumed matter for maintaining weight?

When it comes to maintaining your weight, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re balancing the number of calories that you take in with the number of calories that you burn. The calories in/ calories out rule will always be most important when calculating deficit, maintenance, or surplus calories.

With that said, the types of calories that you eat can play a role in how many calories that your body burns. This is known as the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), which was briefly covered above.

The general estimate is that TEF is roughly 10% of your total calorie intake, however, this number increases if you are eating protein to roughly 20-35% of your overall caloric intake. When you consume carbs, the TEF is around 5-15% of calories burned through digestion, and this number goes down to around 0-5% when you consume fat.

This information can be helpful when deciding which foods to eat when calculating your maintenance calories. If you find yourself gaining weight easily despite eating maintenance calories, it would be worthwhile to try adding more protein-rich foods to your diet.

Similarly, if you are someone who loses weight quite easily despite eating close to your calculated maintenance calories, adding more fat and carbohydrates to your diet would reduce the thermic effect of the food you are eating, and decrease your overall TDEE.

How To Properly Track Your Calories for Maintaining Your Weight?

How to properly track your calories for maintaining your weight?

When tracking your calories to maintain your weight, the more accurate you are the better. Once you have determined the number of calories that you need to be consuming in a day for maintenance, you can use tools such as calorie counting apps, weighing your food, or keeping a food journal to keep track of your intake.

One of the most accurate ways to track your food is with a calorie counting app such as Macrofactor. Using a calorie counting app in combination with weighing out your food portions will help to ensure that you are hitting your calorie goal as closely as possible.

If you are wanting to eat maintenance calories, but you aren’t as concerned about being extremely accurate, you can use other tools such as estimating food portions and keeping a rough food diary.

Keep in mind, using estimates rather than exact measurements can result in you either going over or under your maintenance calories, which can result in either unwanted weight loss/ weight gain when done for too long. 

Related Article: Do Macros Matter for Weight Loss? (Yes, Here’s Why)

How To Properly Track Your Activity Levels for Maintaining Your Weight?

How to properly track your activity levels for maintaining your weight

While you can use the general calorie recommendations mentioned in the first section, or go with the TDEE online calculator recommendations (ie. sedentary/ moderately active/ very active etc), there are other tools that you can use to further your accuracy of the calories you burn during exercise.

Tools such as heart rate monitors and Fitbit have the ability to track your heart rate and tell you how many calories you have burned during a workout. Using a gadget like this can help you to get specific on how many calories that you are burning, especially if you enter your specific statistics such as your current height and weight. 

Let’s get you in the best shape of your life. Sounds good?

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Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Calories To Maintain 100 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1697 calories to maintain 100 lbs as a woman, and 2057 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 105 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1731 calories to maintain 105 lbs as a woman, and 2090 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 110 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1764 calories to maintain 110 lbs as a woman, and 2123 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 115 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1797 calories to maintain 115 lbs as a woman, and 2156 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 120 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1830 calories to maintain 120 lbs as a woman, and 2190 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 125 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1863 calories to maintain 125 lbs as a woman, and 2223 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 130 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1897 calories to maintain 130 lbs as a woman, and 2256 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 135 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1930 calories to maintain 135 lbs as a woman, and 2289 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 140 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1963 calories to maintain 140 lbs as a woman, and 2323 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 145 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 1996 calories to maintain 145 lbs as a woman, and 2356 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 150 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2030 calories to maintain 150 lbs as a woman, and 2389 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 155 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2063 calories to maintain 155 lbs as a woman, and 2422 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 160 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2096 calories to maintain 160 lbs as a woman, and 2456 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 165 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2129 calories to maintain 165 lbs as a woman, and 2489 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 170 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2162 calories to maintain 170 lbs as a woman, and 2522 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 175 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2196 calories to maintain 175 lbs as a woman, and 2555 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 180 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2229 calories to maintain 180 lbs as a woman, and 2588 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 185 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2262 calories to maintain 185 lbs as a woman, and 2622 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 190 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2295 calories to maintain 190 lbs as a woman, and 2655 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 195 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2329 calories to maintain 195 lbs as a woman, and 2688 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 200 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2362 calories to maintain 200 lbs as a woman, and 2721 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 205 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2395 calories to maintain 205 lbs as a woman, and 2755 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 210 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2428 calories to maintain 210 lbs as a woman, and 2788 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 215 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2462 calories to maintain 215 lbs as a woman, and 2821 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 220 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2495 calories to maintain 220 lbs as a woman, and 2854 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 225 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2528 calories to maintain 225 lbs as a woman, and 2887 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 230 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2561 calories to maintain 230 lbs as a woman, and 2921 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 235 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2594 calories to maintain 230 lbs as a woman, and 2954 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 240 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2628 calories to maintain 240 lbs as a woman, and 2987 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 245 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2661 calories to maintain 245 lbs as a woman, and 3020 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 250 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2694 calories to maintain 250 lbs as a woman, and 3054 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 255 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2727 calories to maintain 255 lbs as a woman, and 3087 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 260 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2761 calories to maintain 260 lbs as a woman, and 3120 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 265 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2794 calories to maintain 265 lbs as a woman, and 3153 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 270 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2827 calories to maintain 270 lbs as a woman, and 3186 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 275 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2860 calories to maintain 275 lbs as a woman, and 3220 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 280 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2893 calories to maintain 280 lbs as a woman, and 3253 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 285 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2927 calories to maintain 285 lbs as a woman, and 3286 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 290 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2960 calories to maintain 290 lbs as a woman, and 3319 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 295 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 2993 calories to maintain 295 lbs as a woman, and 3353 calories as a man.

How Many Calories To Maintain 300 lbs? 

If you’re moderately active and around 30 years of age it takes 3026 calories to maintain 300 lbs as a woman, and 3386 calories as a man.

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About The Author

COLBY ROY

Colby Roy is a holistic health and nutrition coach. She is certified through Precision Nutrition and the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has a passion for all things nutrition and healing the body. More specifically, Colby likes to work with clients who want to optimize their gut health and energy levels.