Well hello there,
Since you’re reading this you must be interested in how many calories you should eat per day?
The first thing I would like to say is that you CAN lose or gain weight without counting calories.
If you’re interested in losing weight you can do this by modifying what you are currently eating and making better choices such as adding more protein to your diet, eating more vegetables that are higher in fiber, reducing junk & fast food, consuming more water, among other things.
Adding more protein will allow you to stay full longer and to cut cravings. You can learn more about how much protein you should eat and the benefits here.
If you’re interested in gaining weight, you can consume more food than what you are currently.
Depending on your activity level this could be tricky.
There are too many variables and questions still up in the air though.
This is why knowing how many calories you should be consuming each day is important.
Since you’re reading this, you probably have a specific fitness goal in mind for yourself.
To reach that goal with the least amount of resistance you definitely need to know how many calories you should be consuming daily.
Otherwise, you will go at your weight loss or weight gain goals blindly.
Doing this approach will more than likely cause frustration and possibly for you to quit.
The problem you may have had in the past is the information is just confusing and you haven’t been able to formulate a plan for yourself.
Well, Good News!
By the end of this article, you will know EXACTLY where your calorie intake should be to reach your specific goals.
You’re actually going to learn more than just about daily calorie intake.
You will really learn how to control your body composition to get the body you’ve always wanted.
You’ll learn about energy balance and what role it plays in your fitness journey.
Below is our BMR & TDEE calculator for you to use.
This calculator will calculate three different formulas for you automatically and give you the average.
We provide three different formulas because there are several formulas floating around the internet and to eliminate more confusion we will give you the average of these three so you have a better calorie number to work with.
If you already know and understand energy balance and macronutrient breakdown then go ahead and use the calculator. [ENJOY].
If you need a little more understanding about how this calculator works, and how to use it to make better meal plans and to have a “strategic” approach to your fitness goals please keep reading.
BMR & TDEE Calorie Definition
Use our free online BMR Calorie Calculator to determine your daily caloric intake. Whether you are trying to lose body fat, develop lean muscle mass or simply maintain your current body weight, using this calculator will give you a precise idea of how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis.
What is BMR
BMR stands for “Basal Metabolic Rate”. This is simply defined as the amount of energy expended daily by the body. Your basal metabolic rate is necessary for the maintenance of your organs and their various functions, i.e. heart, lungs, digestive system, brain, skin, liver, and kidneys.
Your BMR is basically the “energy” your body needs if you were to lay in bed all day. It’s what your body needs to function properly.
Various Factors Affecting Calorie Calculations
Your basal metabolic rate generally decreases with age and lean body mass, therefore, it is important to understand the variety of factors that affect one’s overall total daily caloric expenditure. This online calculator takes into consideration the following factors to give you the most precise calculation:
- Activity Level
Activity Level is very important in relationship to determine one calorie calculation known as the Harris-Benedict Equation. This online calculator defines activity level as:
- Moderately Active – Workout/Exercise 2-3 times a week
- Very Active – Workout/Exercise 4-5 times a week
- Extra Active – Workout/Exercise 5-7 times a week (also for individuals who engage in physical activity for labor purposes)
Knowing your activity level can highly inflate your caloric intake. Choose wisely in order to get the most accurate calculation.
We would suggest you choose conservatively when selecting your activity level.
We provide a TDEE calculation with a 10% deduction as this may become a more accurate indicator or your calorie needs.
Also, this online calculator gives you the option to calculate your daily calorie intake based on your macronutrient ratios such as protein, carbohydrates, and fat intake. You are given the option to determine protein intake based on body weight or lean body mass. You will need to know your body fat percentage to determine this particular calculation.
Once you input in your various measurements, i.e. height, weight, gender, etc. – this BMR calculator will give you four calculations:
- Mifflin-St Jeor Formula
- Katch-McCardle Formula (Requires Body Fat Percentage)
- Harris-Benedict Formula (Based on Activity Level)
- Average BMR
- Total Daily Energy Expenditure
Using this BMR calculator will give you a very good idea of how many calories you should be consuming on a daily basis in order to maintain your current body weight. Many individuals find themselves consuming far too many, and in some instances, not enough calories in order to maintain a healthy body and metabolism. This is a great tool to map out your overall nutritional requirements.
Why Knowing Your Daily Calorie Number Is Important?
Like I mentioned above, you can lose weight or gain weight by NOT knowing your daily calorie intake.
But is that really the most efficient way to go about things?
You could drive from New York to California without a map or GPS too. But would you really do that?
I know from personal experience that you can lose weight by not counting calories. I lost 65 lbs doing it.
But I didn’t have a time table set for my weight loss. I knew this was a lifestyle change so I focused on the change.
But now that I want to focus more on body composition and the best ways for me to keep the weight off.
I need a systematic approach and to cut out the guesswork out.
When I say systematic, I don’t mean boring and dull. I mean know what your caloric limits are so you can still eat the foods you love.
I understand most people aren’t like me and don’t want to “figure it out” as they go.
They want an A to B approach to reach their goals.
I am here to tell you that knowing your daily calorie intake requirements is essential. PERIOD.
If you are looking to get down into the sub 10% body fat (for men) and 20% body fat for women.
Then knowing your caloric numbers (more importantly macros) is very important.
And if you’re one of those that ‘I don’t want to count calories every day”.
Well, I have some solutions for you. Keep reading.
Get To Know Energy Balance
“Energy Balance” is the relationship between “energy” you take in from food and drinks and “energy” your body burns daily.
This energy relationship, which is defined by the laws of thermodynamics, dictates whether weight is lost, gained, or remains the same.
We convert potential energy that’s stored within our food (measured in Calories or kcals) into three major “destinations”: work, heat and storage.
And when we’re discussing food and metabolism, a calorie is the amount of energy required to heat one kilogram of water one degree Celsius.
So, foods with a lot of calories (fatty foods, for instance) contain a lot of potential energy and foods with fewer calories (broccoli) contain less energy.
I know this is REAL nutrition geeky stuff but stay with me. 🙂
Not understanding “Energy Balance” is where people get tripped up.
We hear things like “You Have To Eat Clean To Lose Weight” or “You Can’t Eat After A Certain Time Of Day” or “Don’t Eat Carbs”.
All 3 of these statements are BS!!!
Sure, if you cut your calories way down because you only eat vegetables, no carbs, and you never eat after 7pm you will certainly lose weight. But I’m talking about healthy, stress-free and sustainable weight loss.
It’s a simple formula really.
To lose weight we must eat less energy than we burn. To gain weight we must eat more than we burn.
This isn’t my opinion. This is scientific fact.
This statement is not revolutionary either.
You’ve probably heard of calories in and calories out.
But let’s dig a little deeper…
Energy balance determines weight loss or weight gain. NOT specific food choices. Definitely NOT eating after a specific time of day.
- Eating a single donut will not make you fat. OVEREATING DOES
- Eating pasta will not make you fat. OVEREATING DOES
- Eating bread will not make you fat. OVEREATING DOES
I will prove that eating late at night will not cause weight gain in another article. Just trust me for now.
In the basic form, a calorie is a calorie. Eating too much of even “Clean Food” WILL make you fat.
Staying with a caloric deficit is what will help you lose weight. Not necessarily WHAT you eat.
This “theory” was proven by Professor Mark Haub, who was able to lose 27 pounds on a diet of protein shakes, Twinkies, Doritos, Oreos, and Little Debbie snacks.
He ate fewer calories (energy) than his body burned and, as the first law of thermodynamics dictates, this resulted in a reduction in total fat mass.
Now, OF COURSE, I am not saying go eat a bunch of crap to lose weight.
That’s just not healthy for the long term.
But what’s important here is that you DON’T have to only eat salads to lose weight.
Too many people are miseducated about nutrition and the things they can and can’t eat when trying to lose weight.
What you should take away from this, is that weight loss or weight gain is ALL about energy balance.
So knowing what your calorie intake per day is and knowing if you’re under eating or over eating will determine whether your weight goes up or down over time.
Understanding energy balance and your daily calorie intake will help with meal planning and to set you on the right path to reach your fitness goals.
When A Calorie Is NOT A Calorie
We just went over that losing or gaining weight boils down to energy in and energy out.
Some call this, calories in and calories out.
But how does that translate to YOUR goals?
Most people think they will just cut calories and they will lose weight.
This DOES work. But you’re going at this blindly.
Going at this blindly and not having a systematic approach and true understanding is why we YO-YO diet.
How many calories do you cut?
Not all calories are equal. So which ones do you adjust or cut?
- 1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
- 1 gram of Carbs = 4 calories
- 1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
Did you know some calories (Protein, Carbs, Fat) are more important than others based upon your fitness goals?
Are you eating enough protein?
Did you know protein is VERY important no matter if you want to lose or gain weight.
A high-protein diet is better for building muscle
Protein helps preserve muscle while in a calorie deficit.
Protein is very filling, which helps you better stick to your diet.
High-protein dieting is even more important for people that exercise regularly because their body needs more for recovery and repair.
I will give simple protein recommendations below but if you want to know more about how much protein you should eat and why, see this article.
How To Calculate Your Calorie Intake
We’ve gone over energy balance and that a high protein diet is important to lose or gain weight.
Let’s discuss how to count your calories, how to break those calories down into macros, and how that pertains to YOUR goals.
As mentioned above, it’s all about “Energy Balance”.
Your daily energy balance is referred to as your “TDEE”.
TDEE stands for “Total Daily Energy Expenditure”
Knowing your TDEE allows you to adjust you daily calorie intake up or down to lose or gain weight.
It’s the number you can adjust, manipulate, play with to meet or maintain your goals.
Your TDEE is comprised of your basal metabolic rate (BMR) plus additional energy burned through physical activity and the food you eat.
Don’t worry the above calculator figures this number out for you.
But I think it’s important to understand what it means and how it’s calculated.
Your body burns energy several ways:
- BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) – The energy your body burns while at rest.
- When you move your body – It doesn’t matter how small or large of a body movement you perform. Your body has to use energy just to move a finger or toe.
- When you eat – AKA “Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)” – Your body has to use energy to digest food.
Research shows that “TEF” accounts for about 10% of total daily energy expenditure, with amounts varying based on the macronutrient composition of your diet.
Digesting protein is an energy taxing job for your body.
This is why you can lose more weight and fight off hunger easier when on a high-protein diet.
When you add up your BMR, the energy from exercise, and the energy from digesting food, you arrive at your “TDEE”.
Again don’t worry if this all feels complicated. The above calculator will do the calculations for you.
Note: No calculator is perfect for every individual body types. You should use these calculations as guidelines for a few weeks, see how your body responds, and then adjust accordingly.
How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?
So if your goal is to lose weight, here is how to go about it.
Of course, you need to cut calories.
But how much?
The guideline is to be aggressive with your calorie deficit. But NOT reckless.
Research has shown that you can be aggressive up to 25% of your TDEE.
Anything more than that and you will start to experience the “Crash Diet” symptoms:
- Weak & Tired
- Dreading your workouts
- Binge eating once off of diet
So after calculating your BMR & TDEE with the calculator above reduce the calories between 20 – 25% for fat loss.
What Workouts Should You Do?
My recommended workout routine is:
How Should I Break Down My Macros?
Calories are made up of macronutrients and micronutrients.
The important macronutrients we mainly focus on are Proteins, Carbs, & Fats.
Here is how you should break your macros down to start your fat loss journey.
Protein – (4 calories per 1 gram) should be 1 – 1.2 grams per pound of body weight if you are exercising. Which I recommend.
Fats – (9 calories per 1 gram) should be about 0.2 – 0.25 grams per pound of body weight.
Carbs – Leave the rest of your calories for carbs. (4 calories per 1 gram) (Especially if you are strength training. You will need the extra energy.)
Remember, carbs are not your enemy. Overeating is! Period.
You will have better workouts, improved energy, and mood while dieting with a good high-protein & carb ratio.
If you don’t exercise, well, REALLY? Start exercising.
How Many Calories Should You Eat To Gain Muscle?
To gain mass (muscle & weight) the experts I have talked to recommend just a 10% surplus in your TDEE.
Anything more than that will cause too much fat gain.
If your goal is maximum muscle growth, then you’ll want to set your macros up a little differently.
Before we get to that, though, you should also know that you only want to “bulk” if your body fat percentage is in the right range.
For guys, this is about 10%. For girls, about 20%.
Protein – (4 calories per 1 gram) should be 1 gram per pound of body weight.
Fats – (9 calories per 1 gram) should be about 0.3 – 0.4 grams per pound of body weight.
Carbs – (4 calories per 1 gram) Leave the rest of your calories for carbs.
To Make It All Work
I know I just threw A TON of information at you.
It’s OK if you need to go back and read it again so it sinks in.
I actually recommend you do re-read it.
BOOKMARK this page to reference it often.
Knowing this information is what will separate you from a typical crash, yo-yo dieter, from someone who loses or gains weight at will.
When you have a clear-cut strategic approach it makes the process and the plan you create for yourself that much more enjoyable.
You actually get to eat the foods you love, you understand energy balance and that eating a cheat meal or one “bad” food item will not derail your efforts.
You understand how to get back on track if you get off course.
No more guessing. You KNOW what you’re doing from this point forward.
- It’s ALL about energy in vs energy out
- Use the calculator above to calculate your BMR & TDEE
- Subtract up to 25% of your TDEE for weight loss. Add 10% to your TDEE for weight/muscle gain.
- A High Protein diet is good for weight loss and weight gain
- Calculate your macros to know how your calories break down. This allows you to manipulate your diet to include the foods you love.
- Use your macros to create your own custom meal plans that YOU can stick to.
- Strength Train for a few hours per week
- Do HIIT Cardio for no more than 2 hours per week.
- ENJOY LIFE!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hello, I’m Jonathan Scott, Owner of J530. I created J530 to provide a down to earth approach to reaching your fitness goals. After losing 65 lbs I wanted to take my fitness to a whole new level. I found the fitness and supplement industry confusing and not truthful about how to reach your goals. So I want to provide an outlet for you and me to rely on that has solid information backed by proven scientific studies.
I spent 4 years working for one of the largest primary care companies in the United States. This put me in direct contact with doctors every single day. I learned a lot from these physicians and I will be sharing my knowledge and my resources with you.
If you like the information you learn from us, please feel free to leave us a comment, share the information, and follow us on social media.