Calories You Need to Survive

Priorities For Survival

You are in a survival situation — a winter storm, a flood, a blackout, a plane crash, etc. What are your top priorities?
  1. Water
  2. Food
  3. Shelter
You can debate the order of the three items above, but all are vital. This post will focus on #2. Food. More specifically, how much food.

Calories Needed to Survive

There are many factors in determining how many calories you would need to consume per day. The key factors are:
  1. Gender
  2. Height
  3. Weight
  4. Activity
The Prep Club of School of Self Reliance general guidelines are listed below. Keep in mind the numbers may vary depending on type of person, physical activity level, dietary needs, medical conditions, environment, etc.
1500- 1800 — Just enough to keep you alive
2000 -2200 — Normal daily requirement for adults
2500- 2800 — Pregnant & nursing women; Very active men
3000 -3500 — Soldiers in combat situations; Pro athletes
3500+ — Winter/Freezing; Long-term survival situation
Our bodies consume energy in three different ways. The Modern Survival Blog expands on these three ways.


Your body needs energy 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 these body systems require fuel. Roughly 60% to 70% of the calories you burn every day is to keep all of your body systems functioning.

Physical Activity

Your body burns calories through ANY sort of physical activity and manual labor, ranging from simply walking to strenuous physical exercise. The number of calories you burn from physical activity might range from 25% to 40% the total amount of calories you burn in a day.

Digesting Food

Your body also uses energy to digest the food you eat, although it only accounts for about 5% to 10% of calories burned.
The following two examples may give you a general idea of caloric needs and how they vary with 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 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.
Daily Calorie Requirements
Male, 5’11”, 190 pounds, lightly active
Age – 20: 2,800
Age – 30: 2,700
Age – 40: 2,600
Age – 50: 2,500
Age – 60: 2,400
Age – 70: 2,300
Daily Calorie Requirements
Female, 5’5″, 150 pounds, lightly active
Age – 20: 2,100
Age – 30: 2,000
Age – 40: 1,900
Age – 50: 1,900
Age – 60: 1,800
Age – 70: 1,800

Your Ideal Weight & BMI

The following website has a ton of useful information. The calorie calculator on calculates your ideal calorie intake. There is a chart that shows the calories in the most common foods. It also shows some common activities, such as golfing, swimming, and running, and how many calories are burned while participating in them.
You never know when you will thrust into a difficult situation. If food is scarce and hard to come by, you need to know how much you need to eat. Use the calculator and familiarize yourself with common foods, so you will be ready when you least expect it.

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