Calculating the Number of Calories you Need Each Day

counting calories

There are lots of diet plans on the internet which tell you how many calories the average person should consume each day.

However, nobody is average and everyone is different. Personally, I was never a fan of counting calories. I thought, “Why bother, I’m already getting great results from my diet and workout program”.

Read: Why I never count calories but can stay in great shape all year round

But, for those who are struggling to lose or gain weight, tracking your calories is actually a smart thing to do.

The number of calories you need to eat will depend on a number of things, including your total daily energy expenditure also known as TDEE. This is the number of calories which your body burns over the course of 24 hours.

By knowing what your daily calorie needs are, you can use this as the basis for your nutritional plan.

Working out your Calorie Needs

There are many different methods which can be used to calculate and work out the number of calories your body actually needs.

The different formulas will focus on a number of different ares of your life including your height, age, gender, weight, and daily activity level.

It’s important to understand that all of these formulas will produce estimated calorific information. It’s impossible for any calculation to be accurate enough to take into account every single aspect of your life.

There are so many variables, including hormonal and metabolic processes which will create variations in results. This means that you won’t know for sure the number of calories your body needs each day.

That said, working out a tailored calorie plan will be much more accurate than relying on average data printed in most diet nutritional guides.

Once you have the figure you can use it as the starting point. You can then make adjustments to your plan to fine tune it once you are actually on your diet.

Step 1:

Calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate

The basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body needs for its core functions, this means without any activity. The easiest way to work this out is to use an online calculator.

There are lots of different BMR calculators online, one of the best is

These calculators all work in a similar way, they will ask you for your weight, gender, age and height. This information can be used to estimate your metabolic rate.

Let’s calculate my BMR in this example.

bmi calculator

As you can see from the screenshot, the figure here is the minimum number of calories my body needs each day to function properly.

Step 2:

Calculating Activity Factor

As well as burning calories to sustain your body, you will burn more for various activities. You will need to estimate these to work out your total daily calorie expenditure. This is easy to estimate and can be done using the following formulas:

Little or no exercise – BMR x 1.2 – If you have a desk job and little exercise then multiply your BMR calculated online by 1.2 for your total
Light exercise – BMR x 1.375 – Multiply your BMR by 1.375 if you exercise up to 3 days per week
Moderate Exercise – BMR x 1.55 – If you exercise at least 3 days per week then multiply by 1.55
Highly Active – BMR x 1.725 – If you exercise almost every day then multiply by 1.725
Extremely Active – BMR x 1.9 – If you have a strenuous physical job then multiply by 1.9

The figure you calculate here will be the base number of calories your body would need to sustain its current weight. If you want to lose weight then you will need to eat fewer calories, and more if you want to put on weight.

Calorie Deficit

You can use the information calculated above to work out how many calories you should eat each day if you want ot lose weight.

Step 3:

Calculating Calorie Deficit

Lets say you want to lose 5 pounds in 30 days, here is exactly what you need to do in order to manipulate your maintenance calories that you just calculated. For every pound of weight you want to lose, you will need to burn 3500 calories.

For example, if you want to lose 5 pounds over the next month then this is equal to (5×3500 = 17,500) 17,500 calories. You would need to burn an extra 583 calories each day to have this impact.

To do this you will need to cut the amount of calories you eat each day. You can also increase the metabolic rate by exercising more so that you burn more calories. If you consume less calories and work out more, then your body will burn fat to produce the energy it needs.

To lose weight effectively you will need to not only diet, but also exercise. Dieting without exercise will have little or no impact on your weight.

The same technique can be used to build muscle mass without gaining unwanted fat.

Hopefully this has made it much easier for you all to work out how many calories your body needs each day, and how this information can be used to burn body fat.


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About the Author

I created this website to help people that are struggling to build muscle and lose weight. I love working out and motivating others to do the same, and to get in the best shape of their life. Read my story here. Also go ahead and Like us on Facebook.

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