Customize Your Calories Back »

Do you know how many daily calories your body needs to function and provide energy? The number of calories we require depends on our age, gender and level of activity. MyPlate’s Daily Checklist is a useful tool that is used to let us know what and how much to eat within our calorie allowance.

Balance your food calories with your level of physical activity. Adults are recommended to participate in a minimum of 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly, youth ages 6 to 17 years need 60 minutes daily of moderate and vigorous activity, and 2-5 year olds are recommended to play actively several times each day. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend an eating pattern that focuses on variety, nutrient density, and amount.


Some individuals feel like they are eating plenty of food, but their body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Make the most of your calorie allowance by eating nutrient-dense foods and beverages. They provide vitamins, minerals, and fiber. All fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans and peas, unsalted nuts and seeds, and fat-free and low-fat dairy are nutrient-dense when prepared without solid fats and sugars.

As you budget your daily calorie allowance, choose foods that taste good, as well as those that are good for you.

  • Baked chicken breast, 3 oz. (138 calories) vs. breaded, fried chicken strips, 3 oz. (246 calories)
  • Unsweetened applesauce, 1 cup (105 calories) vs. sweetened applesauce, 1 cup (173 calories)
  • 90% lean ground beef patty, 3 oz. (184 calories) vs. 75% lean ground beef patty, 3 oz. (236 calories)
  • Tuna canned in water, 3 oz. (73 calories) vs. tuna canned in oil, 3 oz. (168 calories)
  • Red delicious apple, medium (125 calories) vs. apple pie slice, 1/8 of 9” pie (411 calories)
  • Water, 12 oz. (0 calories) vs. orange soft drink, 12 oz. (179 calories)

Read and use the Nutrition Facts label. It can tell you a food’s caloric value and its nutrient content. Becoming aware of these facts can help us make better choices. Knowing what and how much you eat and drink, along with regular physical activity, can help you manage your weight and lower your risk of disease.

Additional Information

Check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ How Many Calories Do Older Adults Need article. In addition, see Michigan State University Extension’s The Health Benefits of Mindful Eating.


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