Pay attention to the serving size, particularly to the number of servings contained in the food package. Then ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming?” (e.g., half a serving, one serving, or more)


In the sample above, one serving equals one cup. If you ate two cups, you would have eaten two servings. That doubles the calories, and in this case you would have consumed 500 calories. (Depending on the country in which you live, you will find nutrition data listed in calories, kilojoules, or both. One calorie = 4.184 kilojoules.)


1) According to the National Institutes of Health, women should consume no less than 1,200 calories a day. Men should consume no less than 1,500 calories a day.

2) According to the Mayo Clinic plan, for the “person trying to lose weight,” the medically accepted calorie allowance is:

– 1,200 calories per day for women

– 1,400 calories per day for men

These daily calorie requirements are for people weighing less than 250 pounds (113.4 kilograms).

– Women 250–300 pounds = 1,400 calories per day

– Men 250–300 pounds = 1,600 calories per day

Now let us look at some calculations, starting from simple to more complicated:


You can use this easy formula, a favorite of cardiologist Thomas Lee, editor in chief of the Harvard Heart Letter. You can use our online calculator which will automate your results. This how to do it manually:

  1. Find your activity level below.
  2. Multiply your current weight by the number indicated.
  3. The result is the number of calories you need to maintain your weight.
  4. Subtract 500 calories for weight loss.

In other words, Your Current Weight x Activity Level = Calories for Weight Maintenance. From this number, subtract 500 calories for weight loss.

Activity level:

1) Almost never exercise: Multiply your current weight by 12

2) You exercise lightly, 1 to 3 days a week: Multiply your current weight by 13.5

3) You exercise moderately, 3 to 5 days a week: Multiply your current weight by 15.5

4) You exercise vigorously, 6 to 7 days a week: Multiply your current weight by 17

For example: Let’s say you weigh 135 pounds and do light exercise one to three days a week. Multiply 135 by 13.5 to get approximately 1,800 calories. This is the number of calories you need to maintain your weight.

If you want to lose weight, try cutting out at least 250 calories a day, says Lee. Even if you make no other changes, you could be 26 pounds lighter in a year. If you subtracted 500 calories a day, you would lose one pound a week, which is about 52 pounds in a year. Exercise more and you could lose more.

See our online weight x activity online calculator.


The most accurate measurements allow you to input all your personal information. While several equations exist, the ADA (American Dietetic Association) found the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation to be the most accurate and the most recommended by nutrition professionals.

As you will soon see, this equation is quite involved, but there are many online calculators that make it a snap. You just enter your personal information and the calculator does all the converting and final results. See our online Mifflin-St. Jeor calculator which is one of the most accurate that I have seen.

This is how it is calculated if you want to do it alone:

Step 1—Take precise measurements of your weight and height in order to obtain an accurate Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Use a calculator to convert pounds to kilograms by dividing pounds by 2.2, as there are 2.2 lbs/kg. Convert inches into centimeters by multiplying inches by 2.54, as there are 2.54 cm/inch.

Step 2—Plug these two numbers—your weight in kilograms and your height in centimeters—into the Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation:

Males: BMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5

Females: BMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161

Step 3—Multiply the BMR obtained from either equation by the factor that best represents your level of activity.

  • Sedentary (little to no activity) BMR x 1.2
  • Light activity (exercise 1–3 days per week) BMR x 1.375
  • Moderately active (exercise 3–5 days per week) BMR x 1.55
  • Very active (exercise 6–7 days per week) BMR x 1.725
  • Extremely active (exercise 2 times per day) BMR x 1.9

The results represent the total daily calorie intake required to maintain your current weight. Subtract the amount of calories per day (i.e., 250–500 calories) from the results in order to lose weight.

Applying Daily Calorie Requirements to this program

You will notice aPV meal (Main Protein and vegetable meal) and V-Plus meal (adding carbs to a meal, only seconds of vegetables) section on our online calculator. This is automatically calculated.

How did we get tthese calorie allowances?

It is really quite simple to apply your daily calorie requirements to our principles. Your lighter fruit or vegetable meal has approximately 250 calories, and Between Meals snack allowance has approximately 250 calories. (120 calories of low-fat dairy twice a day, or Smart Exceptions. We do not count fruits or vegetables between meals.)

This gives you a total of 500 calories and leaves you with the two main meals for the remainder of your total daily calorie allowance.

Take the PV Meal and V-Plus Meal number above and divide your total between these two main meals as you see fit. We suggest that you try keep these two main meals somewhat balanced, but you may choose to divide their calorie allowance based upon the daily situation or personal preference. Try to keep the protein and vegetable meal, your largest meal of the day. 

At goal weight, remember to use the the numbers that add your subtracted calories for weight loss (250–500 calories a day) back into your diet. These additional calories should be added to your two main meal allowances, as your lighter meal and snacks should preferably remain constant at around 500 calories combined.

No one is the same, so it is hard to generalize when defining nutritional and daily requirements. In the long term, you will learn to customize your own particular schedule and lifestyle habits according to your personal goals. Although calorie calculations are not required on this program, they can enhance the program by making you aware of what you are actually eating. This can be especially useful if you experience a weight loss plateau. Sometimes calculating your daily calorie requirements will ensure that you are not actually overeating. Most nutritionists will take calorie requirements into account, and we have provided these tools and this knowledge for succeeding on your personal journey on this program.


Below, we compare the formulas for a 31-year-old female who weighs 135 pounds and is 5 feet 3 inches tall, and who does light exercise one to three days a week:

Weight x 13.5 = 1,822.5 calories

Mifflin-St. Jeor Equation = 1,783 calories

These numbers are to maintain weight. Subtract 500 calories for weight loss to lose one pound a week, and that gives you 1,283–1,500 calories. These numbers are higher than the minimum daily calorie requirements mentioned above.

Calculators on this website