Posted: July 18, 2011

If you are of the few “in the know” about how many calories you really need and why, then you are rare! Most people don’t have a single notion of how many calories they need to achieve their goals.

Caloric consumption should be somewhat specific. I’m not talking about counting every single gram (unless you are competing in bodybuilding in a few months, or trying to make weight for a meet), I’m talking about the realistic ballpark that your daily, and weekly totals should be in to achieve your goals.  Of even the biggest gym rats that I know, down to the marathon runners, and the couch potatoes, most people have no idea how many calories they should be eating. Most people if trying to lose weight, only know to eat “less”, and most weight lifters that are trying to put on muscle, only know to eat “more”. Well, that is a sure way to sabotage your goals, and could even potentially backfire! My previous posts tell you what, when, and how to eat. This post is about the actual amount.

The first thing you need to do is establish a goal. Do you want to build muscle, and bulk up, or are you trying to lose weight, and body fat?
The second thing is to be realistic about your daily activity level. Are you sitting at a desk all day and want to lose weight (not the best idea) , or are you in the gym three times a week, lifting hard and heavy? These will have extremely different caloric requirements.

Muscle is metabolically active tissue. Fat, not. People will hit plateaus in diets, whether you are trying to gain, or lose, unless you change your diet as your body changes! If you lose weight, you need less calories to maintain that weight, if you gain muscle, you need more. You will burn calories more efficiently with more muscle added, so you have to make sure that your hard work in the gym is not wasted!
Another huge misconception, is that a diet that is good for your friend, is the one that you need. No one has the same physiological make up as anyone else. Again, clean eating, and cutting out junk foods, and processed foods, artificial sweeteners, and empty calories is great, but knowing how much to eat is also key.

Finally, as you already know from previous posts, I am a fan of  keeping logs, and diaries. Determine your BMR, this is how many calories you need while at rest (using formula below). Use the Harris Benedict Equation after you determine your BMR in relation to your activity level to get your true caloric requirement. Go to previous posts for ideas on clean eating. Purchase either a diary, a clean eating  book, and/or a workout training plan, and get pumped up about beginning your physiques transformation!

BMR Calculation

Women     655+ (4.35 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches)
                       – (4.7 x age in years)

Men           66+ (6.23 x weight in lbs) + (12.7 x height in inches)
                       – (6.8 x age in years )

Harris Benedict Equation of activity levels

Multiply BMR by appropriate activity level, this will give you the number of daily calories you need.

sedentary  BMR x 1.2
light activity BMR x 1.375
moderate BMR x 1.55
hard        BMR x 1.9

Follow this guideline and adjust to add muscle, or to lose weight. And adjust when your body changes!

Have fun, don’t beat yourself up if you have set backs, and surround yourself with like minded people!

p.s. Always check with your health care practitioner before starting any new program!

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