Eating Well


How much calories should you consume per meal? We’ll show you.

01 Oct 2021

Cutting Calories is just one way to do this and it goes beyond  keeping track of how much you are consuming - it 's also important how you spread them out over the course of a day.

Step 1: Determine Your Energy Needs

Before you start doing the calorie in-calorie out math, calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) first. This refers to the amount of energy your body consumes – when it is completely at rest – for vital functions such as breathing, blood circulation, and body temperature regulation. Your BMR typically accounts for about 70% of your Total Energy Expenditure (TTE), whereas physical activities – like walking and talking – take up an estimated 20%, and food digestion the remaining 10%. On average, women need between 1,600-2,400 calories per day whereas men need between 2,000 to 3,000 calories per day. Once you know your BMR, you can work out what your TTE is.

Step 2: Decide On The Number Of Daily Meals

How often do you eat in a day? Most people stick to the three main meals, some may eat up to five (including snacks and tea breaks), whereas those who are doing Intermittent Fasting usually eat only two. Divide your TTE by the number of meals and you get the average calorie count per meal. You can aim for more or less equal calories for every meal, or adjust the numbers to better fit your needs (see the next two steps).


Step 3: Outline Your Energy Use

We don’t use the same amount of energy throughout the day, every single day. If you do an intense workout one morning, you would want to refuel with a hearty breakfast afterwards. Shift more calories to that first meal of the day and eat lower calorie meals for lunch and dinner. Or say you have an important function to attend after work and plan to indulge then, go light for breakfast and lunch and save your calories for dinner.

Step 4: Study Your Lifestyle

Look at your daily habits and routines for more indicators of your energy use pattern and dietary habits. Are you on your feet all day and usually asleep by 11pm? That means the bulk of your energy expenditure takes place during the day. You should thus consume most of your calories at breakfast and lunch, and eat a light dinner 2-3 hours before bed (for better digestion and sleep quality).

If, on the other hand, big family dinners are routine for you, go light on the calories during the day in order to leave room for more in the evenings. But note that studies have found those who eat half of their total daily calories for breakfast (followed by 36% at lunch and the remaining 14% for dinner) could lose 2.5 times more weight than those who don’t, even when consuming the same amount of calories. Other benefits include better glucose tolerance, lower fasting insulin, and lower triglyceride levels. Eating a higher-calorie breakfast also helps reduce hunger pangs and sugar cravings.

Once you understand the basics of calorie distribution, you can adjust the numbers according to what works best for you in terms of meeting your weight loss goals. Bear in mind that experts recommend a weight loss rate of no more than one or two pounds per week to be healthy and sustainable.


How To Distribute Your Calorie Intake
Meal Calorie Calculator
How Many Calories Should I Eat For Breakfast
Calorie Distribution in a Meal Plan
How To Divide Calories Between Your Meals
Study: Caloric Intake At Breakfast Vs. Dinner Influences Weight Loss