How Many Calories Should My Breakfast Be?

It is a commonly held belief that breakfast is the most important deal of the day, and that the key to a healthy breakfast, not to mention a productive day, is through the consumption of a hearty morning meal. 

How Many Calories Should My Breakfast Be?

But how true is this, and how many calories should a breakfast have? 

Calories & Breakfast

Nutritionists and dietary experts both agree that the ideal breakfast should consist of between 350 and 500 calories. 

Any more than that and you could wind up feeling sluggish and too full, whereas any less than 350 will not provide you with the necessary nutrients and fuel for the day ahead, leading to lethargy. 

Mitigating Factors

Of course, no two people function the same way, and there can be various factors at play that could influence how much food a person requires to get moving and be motivated in the morning. 

One factor is obviously the size of the person in question. It goes without saying that a 6 ft 9 male bodybuilder would require a different amount of fuel in the morning than, say, a 5 ft 3 female gymnast. 

Another factor is the dietary regime the individual follows, both in terms of when and what they eat. 

Personalized Calculations

The best way to get a plan that is personal to you and your specifications, is to do a simple calculation.

Many experts suggest that following a breakfast of 350-500 calories, there should then be a 500-700 calorie lunch, a 500-700 evening meal, and then snacks in between which shouldn’t exceed 200 calories. 

Working on percentages, this would mean that breakfast should be 20% of your daily diet, your lunch time meal should be around 30% of your daily intake, your evening meal should also be around 30%, and then your snacks in between should equate roughly to 10% (each) of your daily calorie intake. 

This obviously changes for the size, weight, height, and lifestyle of the individual, but the percentages work the same way, requiring simple extrapolation accordingly. 

The Guidelines (& When To Follow Them)

If you are not following a strict diet, then general guidelines surrounding meals and calorie intake can be followed more clearly. 

However, if you are on specialist diets, or have rigorous training regimes (for example if you are a bodybuilder), then the personal calculations might be best for you.

These figures and percentages can be adjusted according to specific training regimens, or based upon your daily routine and activities. 

As we have previously said, no two people are the same, and so adjustments need to be made if the generic guidelines do not work or apply to you. 

Generally Speaking

Generally Speaking

For those consuming less than 2400 calories per day, which is the recommended daily intake for adult males, then it is recommended not to drop below 350 calories for breakfast, nor to exceed 500. 

Dropping below 350 will not give you the necessary energy you need, and you will be unlikely to make it to your next meal without getting hungry.

Likewise, if you exceed 500 calories, then an average person will more than likely get more energy than they need, and the excess calories will then be stored as fat – leading to weight gain. 

However, those who consume more than 2400 calories a day, for whatever reason, may require more than 600 calories for breakfast – both to get sufficient energy to see them through to lunch time, and to avoid fat storage or weight gain. 

Calories Per Macronutrient

The Institute of Medicine recommends that 45 to 64% of daily calories should come from carbohydrates, while 10 to 35% should come from proteins. The remaining 20 to 35% should come from fats. 

For a well balanced breakfast, it is recommended that you should incorporate all three of these elements into your meal, with each of them consisting of around the same amount. 


While these are the recommendations, the percentage range means that there is a lot of room for customization and variation when preparing your meals.

For a boost in protein in your breakfast, you could opt for 30% protein, 50% carbohydrates, and 20% fats. 

These percentages are purposely malleable, and experts know that the needs of the individual can be different from the general rulings. 

Calories & Nutritional Content

However, regardless of how many calories you are consuming for breakfast, it is recommended to have as many beneficial nutrients as possible. 

If you are going to have grains as part of your breakfast, then opt for whole grains, as these are laden with nutrients, are rich in fiber, and can provide you with healthy carbohydrates that will keep you going for longer. 

Eggs, low fat milk, and natural yogurts are also great breakfast foods, as they are good sources of protein, as well as being good, healthy sources of fats.

While eggs have been linked to high cholesterol, science has shown that consuming one egg a day does not have any impact on cholesterol levels, nor does it increase the likelihood of heart disease and other associated ailments. 

Also, if traditional breakfast foods aren’t really your thing, Clemson Cooperative Extension recommends reusing leftovers from your healthy dinner the night before, or having your favorite, healthy sandwich as a way of getting the necessary fuel and motivation to seize the day. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about the ideal calorie count for breakfast, and how you can make it work best for you and your lifestyle. 

Ultimately, the thing to remember above all else is that calories themselves aren’t the enemy.

What really makes a difference to the way your body works, is the type of calories you are consuming.

If you stick to the healthiest calories you can, then you will soon see the benefits that a healthy diet can yield.

Jenna Priestly
Latest posts by Jenna Priestly (see all)