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Target Calories/Day for Women

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  • Target Calories/Day for Women

    Though it is certainly unrealistic to ask for a concrete number of calories that all women should consume per day, I am looking to see what kind of ranges you guys toss out.

    As I read through the forum, it seems that some (active) MDA women may be eating as few as ~1,300-1,400 calories/day. Maybe I am overreacting here, but I find this kind of eating alarming both because it seems to be a form of crash dieting and also because I imagine that it is harmful to our overall health (reproductively, skeletally, maybe even cognitively, etc).

    I know that Mark does the math in _The Primal Blueprint_ for the "Korg" family and lays out "Kelly" and "Ken's" approximate caloric needs, but I need someone to please break it down further. How do we arrive at these rough numbers?

    What, for active women, constitutes under-eating? About how many calories should be enough for women who live in light of the PB? Is 1,300-1,400 calories/day actually adequate for active, primal women?

  • #2

    I can't answer your questions but I can tell you that I've just been focusing on keeping protein up, carbs low, and fats to be delicious and fulfilling... eating when I'm hungry... and I've been at about 1,600/day on average this week.

    I've also been on the couch most of this week too (can't exercise yet) so that could have something to do with my number. Maybe it'll go up some when I'm more active.

    I'm looking forward to seeing other people's response to your post!

    Eating lots but still hungry? Eat more fat. Mid-day sluggishness? Eat more fat. Feeling depressed or irritable? Eat more fat. People think you've developed an eating disorder? Eat more fat... in front of them.


    • #3

      A good starting point is

      12 calories per pound of body weight for FAT LOSS

      15 calories per pound of body weight for MAINTENANCE

      (and 17-18/BW for WEIGHT GAIN)


      • #4

        I've never bothered counting properly, but CW tells me that I need 1300 a day to maintain, or 1200 a day to lose... I am only 5'1" though!

        It's quite a challenege breaking through that mentality to allow more fat!

        Is it just the case of women tending to be smaller overall?

        And how active is active?


        • #5

          As long as those people are getting adequate protein and micronutrients, and they're losing fat, I'm not worried. It's important to count burned body fat in their calorie total. On a low carb diet, a calorie intake that low doesn't result in the same type of cellular-level starvation that a low fat, high carb diet at that same calorie level does.

          If you go low carb, get adequate protein, have good sources of fat, and simply eat to your appetite, you will rarely be led astray, even if you're just eating 1500 cals/day.


          • #6

            My average is 1632 per day (looking at my fitday pie chart averages). I don't want to gain weight and I don't want to lose weight. Over the last 23 days I have held steady at the same weight since starting primal. I find that without the grains/potatos/bread, it is very difficult for me to overeat. I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. I eat more on days when my exercise is harder and I eat less on the days when my exercise is not as hard. I try to keep my protein around 100 or more, fat between 50-60%, and carbs less than 100. I feel GREAT!


            • #7


              I've recorded about two weeks of my diet, and I average at about 2200 calories a day. I'm 18, 5'4, 110lbs, 14% BF... 50/25/30 ratio between fat, protein and carbs. (Although my carbs have been increasingly lower everyday..) I do intense exercise maybe about 3-4 times a week, (I like to PUSH it..), and bike ride for recreational purposes several hours a week.

              According to Fitday, my "standing" activity level burns about 2270 calories.

              This seems a little much compared to you ladies....?

              When I consume more like 1500cals, I am almost always fatigued, lazy, and not to mention HUNGRY.

              On a mission to help others master movement, build unbreakable strength, & eat MORE food (can't beat that.) Weekly fitness, health & nutrition articles at


              • #8

                I don't know how much we can trust the caloric allowances by FitDay.

                The software is always very generous toward me, an accomplice of my carb-crazed self, always saying, "C'mon, eat more, or you'll starve you poor thing!" It conflates all kinds of calories per conventional wisdom when calculating daily allowances.

                I am 5'7'', in my early 30s, weigh 168, and, because I am in the weight loss phase, eat about 1500-1800 calories, having gone up to 1900 on occasion, on the primal diet.


                • #9

                  Jess, you obviously don't have to answer this, but at 5'4 and 110lbs, are you menstruating regularly?

                  I'm 20-years old, ~5'6, 145lbs and, like you, love to "Push it." (I deadlift 165, began squatting recently and am currently at 125lbs and like to lift a lot of other heavy things and I'm trying to get my cycle under control).

                  I started this discussion because I'm trying to discover the right amount of calories that I need to maintain my period. It seems like I am eating like mad--well over 2,000 calories/day.. probably around 2,500 on some days, but so far, I haven't made any progress. It's frustrating, to say the least. I'm about to up my carbs dramatically if this continues.

                  Agnieszka, I also don't really trust FitDay. I've stopped using it. It's probably a decent tool for getting a very rough approximation of things, but not that great if you're looking for anything more precise.


                  • #10

                    Really? I thought Fitday was a fantastic tool, I've been using it all the time now, especially to gauge where my ratios are between fats/carbs/protein, and even what my sat/poly/mon fats are..Guess I shouldn't depend tooo much on it then..

                    I actually posted another thread on low body fat, I really can't believe how low I've gotten in the past couple of months..And yes, I still have been getting them. They're fairly irregular, (I don't even bother trying to tell when it's coming,) but they still show up every couple of weeks.

                    I feel like I'm eating like mad, too! I figured the best way to tell how much calories I should be getting is to eat primal and eat when hungry. Unfortunately, I am hungry too damn often, I get tired of eating and/or preparing meals so much. But, I really can't afford to lose anymore weight..Looks like we have similar problems, hm..

                    On a mission to help others master movement, build unbreakable strength, & eat MORE food (can't beat that.) Weekly fitness, health & nutrition articles at


                    • #11

                      I like FitDay for ratios and approximate calorie counts, Jess.

                      It's the part that tells me how many calories I can afford to eat that I find premised on the CW.


                      • #12

                        im currently maintaining at 130lb (5`7) and eating between 2000-2500, 3000 once a week. i do intebnse excercise about 3 x a week and something less intense every day, plus walk with my dog at least 1 h a day. i have stayed the same weight +-3-4lbs over the last 4 years.

                        challenge yourself
                        i blog here


                        • #13

                          Oh golly.

                          The CW I have read says that below 1200 is starvation zone. However, I just came from Weight Watchers (reached lifetime in May!) and I was supposed to be eating 20 WW points a day, which, when I started tracking with, I discovered was only about 1050 calories a day!!

                          So... I am 5 feet 8.5 inches tall. I weigh 144. Over the last four months, my daily caloric average has been:

                          Calories - 1171

                          Fat - 47g

                          Carbs - 125g

                          Protein - 58g

                          I've dropped about 4 lbs in that time. 1 lb per month.

                          Am I eating too little? I'm really asking! I'm not terribly hungry. In fact, I feel like I eat too much sometimes. I promise that I'm not anorexic or bulimic. I'm a former Weight Watcher. In July 2007, I was 183 lbs! Believe me, I love food!

                          Since I'm no longer following the WW Good Health Guidelines to a tee, and have made the slow transition to primal, I've been increasing my caloric intake from 1050/day to a goal of about 1275/day. In fact, for the first week of the Primal Health Challenge, my average caloric intake was 1373! Big improvement!

                          I am looking to lose weight and lose body fat. My Health Challenge goal is to drop from 26% body fat to 23% - either by losing inches or weight. Ideally inches.

                          Thoughts? Concerns?


                          • #14

                            I average 1300+ to 1900 any given day, with the majority of my caloric intake somewhere around 1600 or so. I have been keeping my carbs low and steadily losing fat, so yes, the fat burned no doubt counts in there somewhere. I eat until I make sure my protein for the day is eaten, and the eat the rest of my food until I'm full. I'm 5'3" and 222 lbs as of last weigh in. I don't feel deprived at all and I'm feeling generally well.

                            Start weight: 250 - 06/2009
                            Current weight: 199
                            Goal: 145


                            • #15

                              You guys who do calorie restriction do it tough.

                              I'm sure my wife would feel sympathetic as she eats her two t-bone steaks for dinner and loses weight.

                              She was on 20WW points and lost SFA. Now she eats hard core paleo (with low carb and lots of fat) with 2000kcal+ a day. She's down to about 110lb after starting at 150lb and has had two children on the way (last one 5 months ago). She does no exercise.

                              The "Seven Deadly Sins"

                              Grains (wheat/rice/oats etc) . . . . . Dairy (milk/yogurt/butter/cheese etc) . . . . . Nightshades (peppers/tomato/eggplant etc)
                              Tubers (potato/arrowroot etc) . . . Modernly palatable (cashews/olives etc) . . . Refined foods (salt/sugars etc )
                              Legumes (soy/beans/peas etc)