How Many Daily Calories Do You Need for Survival?

Most of us don’t give a lot of thought to how many calories we consume in a day.

Unless we are on a very specific diet, we generally eat when we’re hungry and stop eating when we’re full.

Hopefully we’re eating the right kinds of food in the right quantities. We know – often from personal experience – that what we consume has a lot to do with how healthy we are. And how good we feel. But most of us don’t count calories.

However, as we’re stockpiling survival food with a long shelf life, we definitely should determine how many calories we will need on a daily basis.

One size doesn’t fit all

And that’s what I want to talk about today. At the risk of giving away too much too soon, I’ll say that the average person needs about 1,200 calories a day for survival.

Now, you probably consume more calories than that. The UCLA Center for Human Nutrition says this. Eating fewer than 1,000 calories per day has the same effect physiologically as starvation.

But we’re talking about what you need to get by when you’re in survival mode. I’ll also add that the number of calories you need is dependent on a variety of factors. Such as your age, gender, height, weight and activity level.

Figuring out how many daily calories you need for survival is not an exact science. But you can pin it down pretty closely by looking at those variables.

Sedentary lifestyle

Under normal circumstances, higher amounts of calories are required than 1,200 per day. That’s according to USDA Dietary Guidelines.

For example, the average sedentary female of medium height and weight between 26 and 50 years of age should have 1,800 calories per day.

The average sedentary male of medium height and weight between 26 and 40 should have 2,400 daily calories. That number drops off slightly as he passes age 40.

Sedentary means a lifestyle including only light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

Moderate to active lifestyle

When moderate activity is thrown in, that same female needs about 2,000 daily calories. The same male needs approximately 2,600 calories per day.

Moderately active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking about 1.5 to three miles per day at 3-4 miles per hour. Plus the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

An active female of medium height and weight between 26 and 50 years of age should have about 2,200 calories per day. An active male of medium height and weight between 26 and 40 should have about 2,800 calories per day.

Active means a lifestyle that includes physical activity equivalent to walking more than three miles per day at 3-4 mph. In addition to the light physical activity associated with typical day-to-day life.

Too few calories = metabolism issues

There are a number of health problems associated with insufficient caloric intake.

To perform at peak levels, your body and brain need vitamins and minerals. Plus carbohydrates, fiber, fats, protein and other nutrients.

Too few calories probably means not enough nutrients for optimal health. It could also mean not enough fiber. Fiber is what regulates the body’s use of sugars and lowers blood cholesterol. And helps promote regularity and prevents constipation.

When you don’t get enough calories, it negatively affects your metabolism. Your body could go into survival mode, which means a slowdown of your metabolism in order to conserve energy.

And that means not enough calcium, which increases your risk for a number of bone-related problems.

Labels and apps can help

Food labels are a big help in determining how many calories each food item you eat contains.

You can also find calorie calculator apps on line. They work with a large database. So they should include just about anything you would eat or drink.

Calories provide you with the energy you need to function. And they are even more important during a survival event.

Living on a small amount of calories for a short period of time is doable. But after a number of days you will become weak without enough calories. And will damage your body.

Determine how many daily calories you need for optimal health and for survival. Then you can make better decisions about what to eat now and what to stockpile for an emergency.

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