Your ideal daily calorie intake depends upon various factors such as your age, activity level and whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain weight. During the past two decades obesity has doubled in the United States and much the same is true of other countries. If people do not start taking action now they will experience reduced life expectancy.
It doesn't matter how big you are most can afford to lose some weight, even a modest loss of ten pounds has tremendous health benefits. To achieve this you need to find your balance between food intake and physical activity and each of us will have a different equation to deal with. As I say in most weight loss articles that I publish: "To lose weight you need to eat less and move more." There are no secrets, just follow that simple rule.
Fifty years ago life for most people consisted of much activity and it didn't matter what you ate because you would exercise away excess calories. For many today life has become a very static experience that consists of long hours at work in front of a computer, a drive home and so tired that there is just enough energy remaining to eat and then sleep. It is no surprise that we're getting fatter.
Now for the good news
You don't have to give up your favorite meals to lose weight. You do need to exercise a little more each day and be aware of portion sizes that you eat. It is a fair assumption that people in the United States and other developed nations can afford to reduce calorie intake by about 300 per day. In less developed countries where people are more active in their daily lives this figure will be considerably lower, but they are unlikely to have an obesity problem anyway.
For a person who weighs 155 pounds (77 kilograms) the following calorie burn-off rate applies for each 1 hour of exercise:
Hiking 370 calories
Golf (walking and carrying clubs - not in a buggy) 330 calories
Stretching exercises 180 calories
Jogging (5 miles per hour/ 8 kmh) 590 calories
Bicycling 590 calories
Aerobics 480 calories
Note: If you weigh over 155 pounds the calorie burn-off will be greater, below 155 pounds the burn-off lesser. There is no accurate science that applies to each individual.
To lose weight and keep it off you should aim at losing one pound (450 grams) each week and to lose one pound you must reduce your present calorie intake by 3,500 calories. How you achieve it is up to you. I suggest 300 less calories each day in your food intake and burn an extra 200 calories each day through physical activity. As you become fitter you will find this ratio reversing.