Q:

# How many calories should a woman eat per day?

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While the exact number of calories to maintain a woman's body weight depends on many factors, including age, activity level and current weight, women of average stature between 18 and 50 should consume 2,000 to 2,200 calories daily, explains WebMD. Using a formula to calculate basal metabolism rate allows customization of the calorie count for the individual.

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Nutrition expert Shereen Lehman for About.com recommends calculating BMR using the Harris-Benedict formula. This formula includes factors to account for sex, height, weight and activity level. Individuals who live a sedentary lifestyle multiply the results of the calculation by 1.2, while those who perform hard work or exercise six to seven times each week multiply the results by 1.9 to determine the number of calories required to maintain their body weight.

The ideal number of calories for a woman to consume depends on her goals. If she desires to lose weight, she must create a calorie deficit by reducing the number of calories she consumes or by increasing the calories she burns through exercise. If her goal is to gain weight, she must take the opposite approach. If she wants to build muscle while gaining weight, she must exercise and increase calories to provide energy for the exercise with an excess to trigger weight gain. To maintain her current weight, the calories she consumes and energy she expends must be in balance, according to Mayo Clinic.

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