Determine Your Calorie Needs

Different groups of people have different daily calorie needs. For example, an adult athlete will need to consume more calories than a moderately active 3 year old.

When eating store-bought foods, be sure to look at the nutrition label to see how many calories are in one serving.

When eating out, choose what you’ll eat before you go. Most restaurants offer nutritional information online.

The following chart will help you determine the appropriate calorie need for your age, gender and activity level.



Activity Level


Age (years)


Moderately Active




1,000 calories

1,000-1,400* calories

1,000-1,400 calories*



1,200 calories

1,400-1,600 calories

1,400-1,800 calories



1,600 calories

1,600-2,000 calories

1,800-2,200 calories



1,800 calories

2,000 calories

2,400 calories



2,000 calories

2,000-2,200 calories

2,400 calories



1,800 calories

2,000 calories

2,200 calories



1,600 calories

1,800 calories

2,000-2,200 calories



1,400 calories

1,400-1,600 calories

1,600-2,000 calories



1,800 calories

1,800-2,200 calories

2,000-2,600 calories



2,200 calories

2,400-2,800 calories

2,800-3,200 calories



2,400 calories

2,600-2,800 calories

3,000 calories



2,200 calories

2,400-2,600 calories

2,800-3,000 calories



2,000 calories

2,200-2,400 calories

2,400-2,800 calories

* - The calorie ranges shown reflect the needs of different ages within the group. Children and adolescents need more calories as they get older. However, adults needs fewer calories at older ages.
The following terms are used in the chart and are defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Sedentary - a lifestyle that includes activity that is only associated with day-to-day life.

Moderately active - a lifestyle that includes physical activity equal to walking between 1.5 and 3 miles per day.

Active - a lifestyle that includes physical activity equal to walking more than 3 miles per day.


Vitamins and minerals


The following information is based on the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand Including Recommended Dietary Intakes. Specific advice for individual needs should be sought from a qualified dietitian.

The term nutrient identifies those substances in food that provide essential nourishment to maintain life.

Nutrient (Vitamins)

Needed for

Key sources

Vitamin A

  • maintaining normal reproduction
  • good vision
  • formation and maintenance of healthy skin, teeth and soft tissues of the body
  • immune function (has anti-oxidant properties).

Milk, cheese, eggs, fatty fish, yellow-orange vegetables and fruits such as carrots, pumpkin, mango, apricots, and other vegetables such as spinach, broccoli.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

  • supplying energy to tissues
  • breaking down and using the energy and nutrients in carbohydrates, proteins and fats
  • nerve function

Fortified breakfast cereals, baking flour, wholegrains, wheatgerm, yeast, legumes, nuts, pork.

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

  • obtaining energy from food
  • making Vit B6 active in the body
  • reducing a key cardiovascular risk factor
  • production of red blood cells and body growth

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, fortified breads and breakfast cereals.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

  • obtaining energy from food
  • breaking down and using carbohydrates, proteins and fats and their building blocks
  • maintaining healthy skin and nerves
  • releasing calcium from cellular stores

Beef, pork, liver, beans, wholegrain cereals, eggs, cow’s milk.

Pantothenic acid

  • making, hormones, vitamin A and D and substances that help make nerves work
  • helps make new fats and proteins in the body

Chicken, beef, potatoes, oat-based cereals, tomatoes, egg yolks, whole grains.

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

  • breaking down,using and reforming the building blocks of proteins

Muscle and organ meats, fortified breakfast cereals, brussel sprouts, green peas, beans, split peas, and fruit.

Vitamin B12 (Cyano-cobalamin)

  • normal nerve function
  • normal blood function

Beef, lamb, fish, veal, chicken, eggs, milk and other dairy products.


  • breaking down and using the building blocks of proteins
  • the processes of tissue growth and cell function
  • maintaining good heart health
  • preventing neural tube defects in newborns

Cereals, cereal products, vegetables eg broccoli, legumes and fruit eg oranges.


  • breaking down and using the building blocks of fats and proteins

Meats and cereals.

Note: eating raw egg whites prevents absorption of biotin.


  • making nerve cell transmitters and cell membranes
  • inflammatory and allergic response
  • healthy kidneys and liver
  • reducing the risk of heart disease
  • fat and cholesterol transport and break down in the body

Milk, eggs, peanuts, wheat germ, dried soybeans.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid)

  • protects against oxidative damage
  • aiding absorption of iron and copper
  • formation of collagen
  • healthy bones
  • helps fight infection
  • helps regenerate and stabilise other vitamins such as vitamin E or folate

Blackcurrants, orange, grapefruit, guava, kiwi fruit, raspberries, sweet peppers (Capsicum), broccoli, sprouts.

Vitamin D

  • absorption of calcium and phosphorus
  • maintenance of calcium levels in blood
  • immune function
  • healthy skin
  • muscle strength

Sunlight on skin allows the body to produce Vitamin D. Few foods contain significant amounts however main dietary sources are fortified margarine, salmon, herring, mackerel, and eggs.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

  • acts as antioxidant particularly for fats
  • keeping heart, circulation, skin and nervous system in good condition

Oils and margarines, fats of meats, chicken, fish, wheat germ, , spinach, cashews, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds.

Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

  • normal blood clotting

Spinach, salad greens, cabbage, broccoli, brussel sprouts, soybean oil, canola oil, margarines


  • development and maintenance of bones and teeth
  • good functioning muscles and nerves
  • heart function

Milk, cheese, yoghurt, bony fish, legumes, fortified soy beverages and fortified breakfast cereals.

Note: the body excretes calcium with salt in urine, so eat less salt to retain your calcium.


  • enhancing the action of insulin to regulate blood sugar

Widely found in foods such as yeast, eggs, meat, whole grains, cheese.


  • the functioning of several enzymes
  • formation of connective tissue
  • iron metabolism and blood cell formation
  • nervous system, immune system and cardiovascular system function

Organ meats, seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, whole grains.


  • healthy teeth and bones

Fluoridated water, fish, tea.


  • normal thyroid function (important in the growth and development of central nervous system)
  • energy production
  • oxygen consumption in cells

Salt water fish, shellfish, seaweed, iodised salt, vegetables (if there is iodine in the soil where they are grown).

Note: Severe deficiencies can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, infant mortality, congenital abnormalities etc.


  • Haemoglobin in red blood cells (important for transport of oxygen to tissues)
  • component of myoglobin (muscle protein)

Red meats – beef, lamb, veal, pork, fish, chicken and wholegrain cereals.

Note: Iron absorption from plant sources eg cereals or green leafy vegetables is much lower than from animal sources so 80% more is required in the food to get the same amount absorbed. Vitamin C helps with absorption.


  • the functioning of more than 300 enzyme systems
  • energy production
  • regulating potassium levels
  • the use of calcium
  • healthy bones

Green vegetables, legumes, peas, beans, lentils, nuts, wholegrains and cereals


  • healthy bones
  • carbohydrate, cholesterol and protein metabolism

Cereal products, tea, vegetables.


  • breakdown of proteins

Legumes, wholegrain products, nuts.


  • forms part of DNA and RNA
  • buffers the acidity of urine
  • protection of acid/base balance of blood
  • storage and transport of energy
  • helps activate some proteins

Widely distributed in natural foods eg dairy, meat, dried fruit, eggs, cereals.


  • nerve impulses
  • muscle contraction
  • regulates blood pressure

Leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant, pumpkin, root vegetables. Also moderately abundant in beans, peas, bananas, avocados, milk, yoghurt

Note: Potassium has a beneficial effect in offsetting the effects of sodium (salt) on blood pressure.


  • antioxidant
  • thyroid metabolism
  • part of several functional proteins in body

Seafood, poultry, eggs and to a lesser extent other muscle meats and cereal foods (content varies widely with soil condition).


  • maintain water balance throughout the body
  • nerve impulses
  • transport of molecules across cell walls

Found in most take-away and processed foods eg bread, butter, margarine, deli meats, cheese, cereals.

It is also a major component of table salt and baking soda

Note: It is important to use only moderate amounts of salt as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines.


  • component of enzymes that help maintain structure of proteins and regulate gene expression
  • needed for growth, immunity appetite and skin integrity

Meats, fish, poultry, cereals, dairy foods.

Note: availability from animal sources is greater than that from plant sources so vegetarians need 50% higher intakes.