Nutrition Calculations

Body Mass Index

What is the Body Mass Index (BMI) and how is it calculated?

  • The body mass index is calculated using weight and height.
  • A higher number means more fat and a lower means less fat.
  • Enter your weight and height at the right to calculate your BMI.
  • The range for good health is between 18.5 and 25; up to 28 is acceptable if over age 50.
  • Obesity is from 30 to 40 and morbid obesity is over 40.
  • Severe malnutrition is 17.5 and lower.


Estimated Energy Expenditure

What impacts daily calorie needs and how are they estimated?

  • In addition to your weight and height, the calories needed to maintain that weight depend upon gender, age, and activity.
  • Activity is estimated from the number of minutes spent exercising each day including walking.
  • This estimator only applies to persons ages 3 and older.
  • You can also use the estimator as a guide to lose or gain weight.
      ◊  Use your target weight to estimate your target calories needed.
      ◊  To lose weight, choose a level below your target calories but
           no less than 1000 calories per day unless otherwise directed
           by your physician.
      ◊  To gain weight, choose a level above your target calories.


Daily Food Servings

How is the number of servings in each food group determined for a balanced diet at a particular calorie intake?

  • A balanced diet includes servings from each food group during each day.
  • Use the calculator on the right to convert any calorie goal between 1000 and 9800 into the number of servings needed from each food group each day.
  • The number of calories entered will be rounded to the nearest 200 to generate the list of servings.
  • Whole grains should make up half of the servings of grains.
  • A variety of fruits and vegetables of different bright colors will provide needed vitamins and minerals.
  • Oil should include vegetable oils containing essential fatty acids to be used in food dressings and cooking.
  • If meat is not lean and/or dairy is not reduced fat, then the servings of extra calories should be reduced.
  • The size of each serving is critical in determining the total number of calories consumed each day. See the following table that shows the relatively modest size of the servings compared to what may be customary.

CategoryServing SizesExamples
Grains1 oz or 30 g1 slice bread, ½ cup or 120 mL cooked rice
Vegetables½ cup or 120 mLtennis ball-sized serving
Fruits½ cup or 120 mLtennis ball-sized serving or medium-sized piece of fruit (apple, orange, peach) or ½ cup of juice
(milk group)
1 cup or 240 mL
2 oz or 60 g
1 cup low-fat milk or yogurt
2 dominoes-sized pieces of cheese
Meat & beans3 oz or 90 gcard deck-sized piece of lean meat, ½ cup beans, checkbook-sized piece of fish
Vegetable oil1 tablespoon or 15 mLin cooking, gravies, or dressings
Extra calories120 caloriessmall piece of cake, ½ candy bar,
2 golf ball-sized scoops of ice cream