How Many Calories Do I Need?

October 8, 2012, by Ken Jorgustin


Want a little help trying to figure out how much food to store or how much food you actually need in a day? Knowing how many calories you burn in a day will give you an idea of how many calories you should be eating, and/or storing as part of your emergency survival preparedness plan of action. Your body burns calories in three different ways… metabolism, physical activity, and digestion.

Metabolism – Your body needs energy every day to survive — even when you are sleeping. Your heart is constantly pumping, your body is working at maintaining a normal body temperature, your brain is always ‘on’, damage is being repaired behind the scenes within the body, and all body systems are requiring fuel. Roughly 60% to 70% of the calories you burn every day is from keeping all of your body’s systems working!

Physical Activity – Your body burns calories through any sort of physical activity, ranging from just walking around, to formal exercise, or any type of movement. The amount of calories you burn from physical activity can be anywhere from 25% to 40% of the total amount of calories you burn in a day.

Digesting Food – Your body also uses up energy to digest the food you eat, although it only accounts for about 5% to 10% of calories burned.


So, common sense tells us that if you eat less calories than your body consumes, you will create a ‘calorie deficit’ — and your body will attempt to burn your excess body fat to make up the difference. Anything short of that, and you will begin to lose weight. For many, that’s not such a bad thing! But for survival… not so much.

For those who wish to be sure that they have enough survival preparedness food storage, either at home, or in a kit of some sort, knowing your daily caloric requirement is essential. There are deceptions out there as to what you may actually really need for food… meaning, there are food packs that you can purchase (some pre-packaged kits, etc.) that contain very little calories. While the food itself may be perfectly fine, balanced, and maybe even taste good… you need to keep in mind the TOTAL number of calories you will need to consume in a day – and be sure that you have enough.


The following two examples will give you an idea or sense of the calories you may need. Note that during an emergency or disaster situation, you may be burning more calories than you normally would be, due to a probable increase in your physical activity.

A 200 pound, 6’2″ man 40 years of age who is ‘lightly active’ during a typical day will require 2,700 calories to maintain body systems function without gaining or losing weight. That same person will require 3,400 calories that day if he is ‘very active’ and 3,800 calories if ‘extremely active’.

A 140 pound, 5’7″ woman 40 years of age who is ‘lightly active during a typical day will require 1,900 calories, but if ‘very active’ will require 2,400 calories, and if ‘extremely active’ will require 2,600 calories to maintain body systems function without gaining or losing weight.


Check your own stats and search for ‘calorie deficit calculator’ or ‘weight loss calculator’ on the internet to determine what your body normally consumes in a day. Then, if you are overweight and want to trim down a bit (to be in better shape for a SHTF scenario?) these calculators should help you determine a reduced calorie intake. Or, you may simply want to determine if your food storage plan will provide enough calories per day for your needs (I have a feeling that some folks underestimate the calories that they will actually need each day to survive).

Yes, there’s more to it… exercise, proper nutrition, etc. – but let’s start with the calories.


Daily Calorie Requirements
Male, 5’11″, 190 pounds, lightly active

20-year-old: 2,800 calories
30-year-old: 2,700 calories
40-year-old: 2,600 calories
50-year-old: 2,500 calories
60-year-old: 2,400 calories
70-year-old: 2,300 calories

Daily Calorie Requirements
Female, 5’5″, 150 pounds, lightly active

20-year-old: 2,100 calories
30-year-old: 2,000 calories
40-year-old: 1,900 calories
50-year-old: 1,900 calories
60-year-old: 1,800 calories
70-year-old: 1,800 calories


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