Not Everyone Needs 2,500 Kcals a Day: How to Consume Less Calories

In a previous post, we explained how not everyone needs 2,500Kcal per day and how to calculate your required daily calorie intake.

[For those who have missed the article, check it out here.]

In the article, we followed Calvin and his sedentary lifestyle, and discovered that in order for him to lose some weight, he needed to maintain a calorie intake between 1,300 to 1,500 Kcal per day.

Source: StaandLooper
This is Calvin | Source: StaandLooper

How should he do that? More importantly, how should YOU do that? Here are some tips on how to divide the calories you require throughout the day so you don’t have to starve:


  • Never skip your daily meals. Always take breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you feel hungry between main meals, munch on light (but nutritious) snacks such as wholemeal bread, whole wheat biscuits, and fruits.

[Get more healthy snack ideas here.]

  • Perhaps the biggest cause of overeating is not understanding meal portions. Learn to control your meal portion and if you are currently in the process of losing weight, reduce your meal portions. See image below on how you should portion out your meals.
A Healthy Plate | Source:
  • Breakfast. It is better if Calvin could revolve his breakfast around whole grains such as whole grain bread (2/3 pieces), a cup of oatmeal, a bowl of whole grain cereals. Of course, it’s okay to indulge in a typical Malaysian breakfast (nasi lemak, meehoon / mee goreng) once in a while (once per week). But you should limit the quantity to only half a plate instead of the full monty. And it’s the best to substitute the greasy roti canai / roti telur with thosai / chapati.

[Get some nutritious 10-min breakfast ideas here]

  • Calvin previously ate a mountain of rice during meals, however, he’s just filling up on empty carbs. For lunch and dinner, he should start by reducing his simple carb intake to half a plate of carbohydrates (rice, mee, meehoon, pasta, bread), 1 type of protein (1 piece of chicken/ fish), and ¼ plate of veggies. He should also cut back on gravies and sauces (that’s where all the sugar and calories are hiding out). By doing this, Calvin is slowly on his way to making his daily food intake look like the healthy plate above.


  • If you’re serious about losing weight (and gaining health), you should definitely cut down on sugary drinks and limit your intake to a maximum of 2 glasses/ cups daily (1tsp sugar/ cup or glass). This way, you can save up to 690 calories if you had previously drank 6 cups/ glasses for each meal time (breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner, supper). Make sure you drink about 2L of plain water daily to fulfill your daily hydration requirement.


  • Cravings for chocolate and chips contain many calories which most of us underestimate. Calvin likes munching on a large bag potato chips during a movie marathon at home. His dietitian cut the intake down to one large bag per month. If he finishes the bag of chips in less than a month, then that’s it. He shouldn’t head out to buy more. To really help yourself cut off the unnecessary calories, it’s better if high-calorie snacks are not available at home at all. If you don’t see it around, you tend to forget to eat them.



  • Once this is easy to do, Calvin increases the frequency and intensity of the exercise to make sure he can do up to 150 minutes/ week. (30 minutes per session, 5-6 times per week). Calvin probably starts by walking so now he can jog up to the recommended time frame.
  • Later, he can add on strengthening activities (sit-ups, push- up, and refer to other examples in the physical activity pyramid above). Adults should do 2-3 times per week (10 minutes per session) of strengthening activities to increase the flexibility, strength, and endurance of their muscles. (Source: Malaysian Dietary Guidelines, National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia, 2010)


What difficulties do you find in eating the right amount of calories? Share with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!


Edited by The HealthWorks Team
Contributed by Nurulasyikin M, primary care dietitian at Pusat Perubatan Menara, KL.

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