Daily calorie intake calculation is a crucial part of any weight loss plan. If you’re about to embark on a program to either lose body fat, build lean muscle, or simply maintain your current body weight while improving your fitness level, one thing that you’ll need to be doing is establishing your target calorie intake.
How many calories you eat on a daily basis is going to be one of the primary factors that dictates the nature of your results, so it’s something you need to get right.
But, how do you know how many calories to consume? It isn’t a black and white answer, as much as some of the popular fad diets out there may have you believe. Each person has their own unique need for energy and taking the time to figure out yours will help ensure you see success.
Here’s how to establish your daily calorie intake.
Determine Your Goals
The first step is figuring out your goals. Do you want to burn fat? Build muscle? Maintain your body weight?
If you want to burn fat for example, you’ll need to create a calorie deficit, which means you eat fewer calories than you burn each day. This involves subtracting a certain number of calories from your daily calorie intake. Since there are 3500 calories in one pound of body fat, you’ll subtract roughly 500 calories per day to lose one pound per week.
If you want to lose half a pound of body fat a week, subtract 250 calories per day.
On the other hand, if you want to build muscle, you’ll need to add those calories to your target daily calorie intake. This will give your body the raw materials it needs to generate more lean muscle mass tissue.
Estimate Your Resting Metabolic Rate
Once you have your goals lined up, now you need to establish your resting metabolic rate. This is the number of calories your body would need to function if you did nothing but lay in bed all day long.
Want a quick and easy way to estimate this?
Simply multiply your current body weight in pounds by 10. If you have 50 or more pounds to lose, use 9 instead. As body fat tissue doesn’t burn many calories at rest, those who are overweight may notice that multiplying by 10 overestimates their needs.
If you want a more precise way to measure, you can use a formula such as the Harris Bendict Formula.
Women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 X weight in pounds) + (4.7 X height in inches) – (4.7 X age in years)
Men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 X weight in pounds) + (12.7 X height in inches) – (6.8 X age in years).
Factor In Your Activity Level
Once you have your resting metabolic rate (RMR), you’ll then want to factor in your activity level. Since you aren’t just lying in bed all day long, you need to adjust for the movements you make.
While it’s impossible to know exactly how many calories you burn on a daily basis, you can estimate it using an activity factor.
Multiply your RMR that you received above by the following:
1.2 if you are sedentary
1.35 if you exercise 1-3 times per week
1.5 if you exercise 4-6 times per week or have an active job
1.75 if you have an active job and exercise 4-6 times per week
Once you have this number, this now represents your total daily calorie intake.
Finally, you’ll need to adjust accordingly. As this formula is not perfect, you’ll need to alter it based on the real world results you get. Eat at that level for a few weeks and if your weight is not moving in the direction you want, adjust accordingly, adding or subtracting more calories to each day.
So there you have the process of figuring out your total daily calorie intake. If you follow these steps, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.