How Much Do You Really Need to Eat?


Unless you’re counting calories for diet purposes, you probably aren’t concerned with how much you need to eat in order to survive. For most Americans, availability of calories isn’t an issue in everyday life. In a survival or crisis situation, food may need to be rationed. Understanding how many calories each person in your family requires to survive is an essential component of any rationing plan.

Calories for Adults

The amount of survival calories required by an adult depends on a variety of factors. Most calorie recommendations are based on maintaining your current weight, but if you enter a survival situation with some excess weight, you can cut some of those calories. Your food intake will also vary with your activity level—in a survival situation, you may do more manual labor or walk more than you do now.

A tall man weighing around 200 pounds requires approximately 2,700 calories each day to avoid weight loss; a tall woman of 140 pounds requires around 1,900 calories. If either person is involved in light activity throughout the day, calorie requirements go up by about 500, and heavy activity may bring calorie requirements to 800 or 1,000 more.

Since calorie requirements vary so much by size, height, and activity levels, download a fitness tracking app, such as My Fitness Pal, today. Such apps let you enter specific personal information and return appropriate calorie counts. Record those numbers for everyone in your household to be used in a survival situation.

Calories for Children and Teens

In the first year, babies require around 50 calories per pound of their body weight each day. Most of that comes from formula or human milk. In a survival situation, powdered formula may be an option, but a nursing mom is also a traditional source of calories. Remember that a nursing mom will need to take in more calories herself, though.

You can calculate calorie requirements for older children and teens the same way you do for adults. Remember to update your records several times a year so they are accurate for ages and sizes should a crisis occur.

Also remember that children in growth spurts will require more calories than at other times; during a survival situation, you may need to gauge needs by a child’s hunger level or whether they appear lethargic without additional proteins and carbs.

How to Boost Calories

Stock high-calorie survival foods now, such as protein bars or other prepper foods. You can also stock avocado and other powders for food prep, peanut butter and nuts, quinoa, canned cheeses, brown rice, and oatmeal. All of these items are high in nutritional content and provide an easy source of calories during survival situations.

For more information on food survival, check out Survive Food Crisis.