What Is the Average Calorie Intake for Men?

Both men and women should understand their daily calorie needs in order to make sure they are meeting their dietary needs. Calories provide energy in the form of heat so that our bodies can function.

The average calorie intake for men varies depending on factors such as age, activity level, and goals. To determine how many calories you should consume in a day, you should decide if you want to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current weight. You will also need to calculate your daily energy requirements. The more specific information you can provide, the more precise your calorie number will be.

Typical Calorie Intake for Men

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) uses a 2,000 calorie per day diet as an example on the Nutrition Facts label. The number is used to provide information about Daily Values and Percent Daily Value (%DV). But it is not a recommendation to eat 2,000 calories.

A calorie calculator is helpful when you are trying to figure out how many calories to eat per day. To use this calculator, you'll need to input your age, height (in feet and inches), activity level, and current weight. You will also need to input a goal weight and a target date to reach your goal. Keep in mind that if your goal is weight loss, a rate of 1 to 2 pounds per week is considered healthy and reasonable.

As an example, an average height, 32-year-old man who weighs 160 pounds and is moderately active will require about 2,608 calories a day to maintain his weight. However, his calorie needs will change if he wants to gain or lose weight.

According to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the recommended calorie intake for adult men ranges from 2,200 to 3,200 calories per day. Your specific calorie needs will vary, which is why the calculator is helpful.

Calorie Needs for Men vs. Women

Almost every calorie calculator will take sex into account, in addition to weight and activity level. That's because a man's body generally requires more energy (in the form of calories).

Men generally have more muscle mass than women. The extra muscle requires more energy. Men are usually taller than women and the extra height also leads to increased calorie needs.

But even in similarly sized men and women, men often need more calories. Men generally have an increased lung capacity—as indicated by a greater average VO2 max—which allows them to work harder during exercise and physical activity and also requires more calories to maintain.

Calories for Men to Maintain Weight

To maintain your weight, you want to consume enough food to meet your daily energy needs. If you don't eat enough calories per day, you will lose fat and muscle mass. If you eat too many calories per day, your body will store the excess energy as fat.

You can use a calculator to find out how many calories you burn each day. Or scan these average calorie numbers for men to see how much energy you use each day and how many calories you should consume to maintain your weight.

Based on numbers provided by the calorie calculator, here's the average calorie number for a man who wants to maintain his current weight based on a moderately active man of average height (approximately 5'10") who weighs 175 pounds:

  • 20-year-old man: 2806 calories per day
  • 30-year old man: 2728 calories per day
  • 40-year old man: 2651 calories per day
  • 50-year old man: 2573 calories per day
  • 60-year old man: 2496 calories per day
  • 70-year old man: 2418 calories per day
  • 80-year old man: 2341 calories per day

If you are sedentary or lightly active you should consume fewer calories per day to maintain your weight. If you are very active (you work a job that includes physical labor and/or you exercise vigorously on a regular basis) you should consume more calories per day to maintain your weight.

You might notice that the number of calories you need declines with age. As we get older, our metabolism slows down and we don't need as much food (energy) to fuel our bodies. Your metabolism may slow because of a decrease in muscle mass or because of a slower lifestyle. We typically become less active as we get older.

Calories for Men to Gain Weight

But what if you want to gain weight? How many calories should a man eat to bulk up his muscle mass? You will need to consume more than your daily energy needs to gain weight, but you should also be mindful of the kind of calories you consume.

While experts used to recommend an energy surplus of 500 to 1000 calories per day to gain a pound of body weight, more recent research has called those numbers into question.

Researchers now suggest that the energy surplus needed to gain a pound of muscle will vary by individual. But as a starting point, they suggest adding approximately 360 to 480 calories per day. Then, monitor changes in body composition and functional capacity to further personalize dietary interventions.

To get an idea of the average calories per day for a man to gain weight, scan these estimates to see how many calories it would take to increase a man's weight from 160 pounds to 180 pounds at a rate of 1 pound per week:

  • 20-year-old man: 3230 calories per day
  • 30-year old man: 3153 calories per day
  • 40-year old man: 3075 calories per day
  • 50-year old man: 2998 calories per day

To make sure that you gain muscle weight and not excess fat, tailor your daily diet to promote lean mass. Focus on eating more protein, fewer processed foods with added sugars, and limit your intake of refined carbohydrates. You should also focus on healthy sources of fat and avoid eating too much saturated fat or foods with trans fat.

So how much protein is enough? Protein needs for men will vary based on your activity level. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, to increase your muscle mass you need to participate in a program of strength training. In addition, you should consume 1.2 to 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day (or 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight).

Good sources of lean protein include lean meat (lean cuts of beef, bison, lamb, and pork), poultry (chicken breast or turkey), egg whites, legumes, seafood, and low-fat or nonfat dairy.

Calories for Men to Lose Weight

If your goal is to lose weight, you'll want to create a calorie deficit for weight loss. A man should eat fewer calories than he needs to lose weight effectively. As a starting point, you can cut approximately 500 calories per day, or 3500 calories per week. But you'll want to tailor your number based on the changes in your body composition.

Some weight loss plans for men provide for about 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day, for a weight loss of 1 to 1.5 pounds per week. But your individual needs may vary. Working with a registered dietitian can help you to personalize your number in a way that is sustainable.

Again, age and activity level is very important. If you participate in frequent, vigorous exercise or if you work at a job that includes plenty of physical labor, you can consume more calories and still lose weight.

Macronutrient balance is important in weight loss. When you cut calories, try to build meals around lean sources of protein and healthy sources of carbohydrate like whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Protein and fiber-rich healthy carbohydrates will help you to feel full and satisfied so you can stick to your meal plan. Include healthy sources of fat to boost satiety and keep your body healthy.

A Word From Verywell

The number of calories that you consume each day can affect your weight and your energy levels. If you've set a goal to change your weight, you may want to work with a registered dietitian to address not only caloric intake but also food preferences, meal planning, and optimal macronutrient intake. Based on your goals and your lifestyle, you can develop an eating plan that is satisfying and sustainable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the minimum calorie intake for men per day?

    There is no designated minimum number of calories per day for a man (or a woman), but the National Institutes of Health advises that very low calorie diets of fewer than 800 calories per day should not be used unless you are being monitored by your doctor.

  • What is a good calorie intake for breakfast for men?

    You can determine your optimal breakfast calories based on your schedule, your lifestyle, and your total calorie goal per day. Many people choose to divide calories equally between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But others choose to eat more calories in the morning if their activity level is higher earlier in the day.

  • Why is the recommended calorie intake different for women and men?

    Calorie needs for men are often higher for men because (in general) men are taller, have larger bodies, and carry more muscle mass. But a tall, very active woman may need more calories than a smaller, sedentary man.

  • What is the calorie intake for men to lose weight?

    There is no set number of calories for men to lose weight. Your calorie goal is based on a number of factors including your current body size, your weight goal, and your activity level. Dietitians used to advise that you reduce your weekly calorie intake by 3500 calories to lose a pound of body fat, but nutrition experts no longer believe that a single number works for everyone.

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13 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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