I’ve been talking a lot lately about counting calories- should you count them, when should you count them, the challenges with counting them, the benefits of counting them, etc.

The reason I’ve been talking about it more than usual is because there is a massive trend in mens physique competitions, bikini competitions, etc. and any time there is a trend people are always going to want to know about it.

A huge part of this culture is that the majority of those involved in it recommend that you track your calories and macronutrients (proteins, fats and carbohydrates).

This involves weighing your food and often tracking it in fitness app such as myfitnesspal to make sure you aren’t consuming too much or too little.

While tracking your calories and macronutrients can definitely help you achieve great results, it’s definitely not a requirement for the results that most people want to achieve. There are much more convenient ways to dial in your food. In fact, 99% of our clients don’t track their calories and still get the results they want while completely transforming their quality of life

That being said, we are seeing more clients coming to us looking for higher levels goals and looking to test the waters with tracking calories and macro’s- sometimes setting yourself a huge goal that requires a big commitment is one of the best things you can do.

When we have a client come to us with this type of goal and we decide that getting really clear on the exact amount of calories (and macro’s) required, there are 3 main methods that we use to estimate their caloric needs.

None of them are 100% perfect. This also is not a definitive list- there are lots of ways to estimate caloric needs and plenty of online calculators to help you do it.- just give it a Google!!

Each of the following formulas uses different factors to estimate the caloric needs of an individual:

- height
- weight
- gender
- current body fat %
- amount of training days
- age
- activity factor- based off of how many days you exercise each week
- Sedentary = BMR X 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
- Lightly Active = BMR X 1.375 (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/wk)
- Moderately Active = BMR X 1.55 (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/wk)
- Very Active = BMR X 1.725 (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/wk)
- Extremely Active = BMR X 1.9 (hard daily exercise/sports & physical job or 2 X day training, full time training, etc.)But the important thing to remember is that these are all estimates and not exact amounts- starting points that will need to be adjusted depending on how a client progresses, their individual goals, etc.

**1) The Precision Nutrition (PN) method**

Multiply your bodyweight in lbs by an a set amount of calories based on the amount of days you are training.

The starting calorie number that PN use for a training 5 days a week is 14-16 calories per lb of bodyweight (can be adjusted depending on the amount of training the person does, how lean they are, etc.)

Example- 70kg person

70kg x 2.2 (multiply your weight in kg by 2.2 to convert to to lbs)= 154lbs

154 x 14 = 2156

154 x 16 = 2464

So our 70kg person would start off aiming to eat between 2156 and 2464 calories per day and adjust based on her weekly progress

**2) Katch-McArdle formula**

- Gives Basal Metabolic rate (BMR), the amount of energy (calories) required just to maintain basic functions for living.
- Once you have your BMR, multiply it by the relevant activity factor outlined above.
- Same formula for both men and women
- Accurate bodyfat % must be known

Formula: (21.6 x LBM in kg) + 370

LBM = weight x LBM%

Eg. 70kg client with 24% body

LBM% = 76% (you get this by taking 24% away from 100%)

LBM kg= 70kg x .76 = 53.2kg

(21.6 x 53.2) + 370 = 1519

BMR = 1519 calories- this is just to maintain basic life functions with no daily activity factored in

TDEE (total daily energy expenditure- energy burned off from all the activities you do during the day including exercise) = BMR X 1.55 (5 days training in this example) = 2355

To lose fat you then need to take away a certain % from the TDEE so you are burning less calories than you consume

Minus 10% = 2119 per day

Minus 15% = 2002 calories per day

**3) The Mifflin St. Jeor formula**

- Gives Basal Metabolic rate (BMR)- the amount of energy (calories) required just to maintain basic functions for living.
- Once you have your BMR, multiply it by the relevant activity factor outlined above to calculate TDEE (total daily energy expenditure)
- BF% not required
- Different formula for men and women

**Male example**

- Mens formula: (10 x bw in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age) + 5
- trains 5 days per week= activity factor 1.55 (as outlined above)
- Weighs 75kg
- height 170cm
- age 25

(10 x 75) + (6.25 x 170) – (5 x 25) + 5= BMR of 1692

**TDEE (amount of calories burnt every day) = Multiply x activity factor 1.55 = 2623 (this will maintain current ****bodyweight if training 5 days per week) **

Minus 10% for fat loss = 2361

Plus 10% to gain weight = 2885

You can increase these % if required for a bigger reduction/addition of calories

**Female example**

- Ladies formula: (10 x bw in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age) – 16170 kg bodyweight
- trains 5 days per week= activity factor of 1.55 (as outlined above)
- weight 70kg
- 167cm
- Age 25

(10 x 70) + (6.25 x 167) – (5 x 25) – 161= BMR of 1458

TDEE (amount of calories burnt every day including physical activity) = Multiply BMR x activity factor 1.55 = 2260 (this will maintain current bodyweight if training 5 times per week)

Minus 10% for fat loss= 2033

Plus 10% to gain weight= 2486

You can increase these % if required for a bigger reduction/addition of calories

**Summary**

Even after all that, these numbers are still only estimates. Some coaches will use completely different formulas. Some will alter calories more aggressively. Some will think that these formulas are useless.

The important thing to remember is that these numbers aren’t set in stone and absolutely will change when applied to real life situations- progress, stress, slips up with food, changes to training routine, etc. None of them are 100% accurate but they can provide you with a great starting point if you choose to go down this route.

Tracking calories is a tool that can be used in certain situations so if you try it then it’s good to know how to calculate them properly. It can be tedious, frustrating, inaccurate and even completely misleading at the start. It can also help you achieve great results and get a much better understanding of your food and how it impacts your body.

You just need to know the pro’s and cons.

So don’t get too bogged down on it and always remember, most people don’t even need to track unless they are really serious about their training and more high-level goals.

I hope you found this post useful. I’d love to hear your feedback so any questions then just pop them below.

Have a great day (and I hope I got all my calculations correct!!!!)

Steve

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