You work out and you eat clean, adhere to the precise macronutrient splits and nutrient timing–but how are you doing in the calories’ department? When working hard to achieve your ideal physique, just one wrong or missing factor in the diet equation could add up to failure. So how do you know how many calories you should be consuming daily?
To find a base number, start by determining how many calories it takes to maintain your current weight. You can use this formula from Lou Schuler and Jeff Volek’s The Testosterone Advantage Plan:
1. Get your weight in pounds and multiply it by 11.
2. Find out your Metabolic Rate (BMR)–that’s the number of calories you’d burn if you stayed in bed all day.
Now factor the effect your activity level and age have on your metabolic factor:
Mostly Sedentary: If you have a desk job and don’t exercise regularly.
Moderately Active: If you have a job that involves physical activity’ or if you spend at least 2 hours a day on your feet, whether for work or play, or if you have a daily hour-long exercise routing, you can consider yourself moderately active.
Dedicated Exerciser or Athlete: If you do some sort of high-intensity exercise almost every day, or if you’re lifted weights 2 or 4 days a week for at lease a year.
Under 30 Years Old
Mostly Sedentary: 30%
Moderately Active: 25%
30 -40 Years Old
Mostly Sedentary: 40%
Moderately Active: 35%
Over 40 Years Old
Mostly Sedentary: 50%
Moderately Active: 50%
Multiply the right percentage above by your BMR to calculate your metabolic factors. This will give you the number of calories you should consume if you wish to maintain your current weight.
Whether your goal is to loose or gain weight, it’s all about calories in versus calories out. If you eat more calories than you burn, you gain weight. Do the opposite, and you’ll likely drop some pounds. It’s that simple, but you also have to be realistic.
One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So to loose one pound of fat a week, at least theoretically, you’d have to cut 500 calories a day. Adding 500 calories a day to your diet and workout regimen, meanwhile, should help you pack on a pound of muscle in a week.
Why does this matter to you? Establishing you daily caloric needs is the first step in paving the way to your goal weight. Based on your objective, you’ll be able to determine how many calories you should be consuming each day. No more guessing games!
Next, you will need to determine a macronutrient split that’s best suited for you, create a daily meal plan and–most importantly–create a food journal to monitor your progress.