Before determining how many calories you need to gain or lose weight, let’s start with how many it takes to maintain your current body.

Several factors like your age, size, goals and exercise level dictate the number of calories you need.

In order to get a general idea of how many calories you burn in a day, multiply your current weight using the most relevant exercise level below:

- + Inactive persons should multiply weight by 14 to 16 calories
- + Somewhat active 16 to 18 calories
- + Extremely active 18 to 20 calories

110 lbs. somewhat active |
110 x 18 | 1980 calories |

180 lbs. inactive |
180 x 14 | 2520 calories |

250 lbs. extremely |
250 x 20 | 5000 calories |

If you want a more precise number, you must take into consideration the constant rate at which calories are burned at a state of rest. This is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR).

Combining your BMR with the amount of work your body does when not at rest (computer work, lifting weights, cooking, jogging etc.) will give you your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE).

Everyone’s BMR and TDEE varies: it takes less fuel to maintain a moderately active, petite forty-something female than it does an active, voracious teenage male.

Here’s how to determine your BMR and TDEE:

Males |
66 + [6.23 x weight (lbs.)] + [12.7 x height (in.)] – [6.8 x age (years)] |

Females |
655 + [4.35 x weight (lbs.)] + [4.7 x height (in.)] – [4.7 x age (years)] |

BMR + Work |
Total Daily Energy Expenditure [TDEE] |

If your BMR is 1500 calories a day and you spent 45 minutes on a treadmill and burned 500 calories and needed another 400 calories to complete an eight-hour work day at the office, then your TDEE would be 2400.

The Harris
Benedict Formula calculates daily calorie intake by multiplying your BMR by your exercise
level. The more active you are, the higher the number you multiply your BMR by:

We all have different body types, and one shortcoming of the Harris-Benedict Formula is that it treats all bodies the same. This formula fails to consider leaner, more muscular individuals by underestimating the number of calories needed. Similarly, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the number of calories needed for overweight individuals is overestimated. The Harris-Benedict Formula is most beneficial to the average person trying to maintain a current acceptable body weight or that wants to shed a few pounds.

Little to no exercise | BMR x 1.2 |

Light exercise (1-3 times per week) | BMR x 1.375 |

Moderate exercise (3-5 times per week) | BMR x 1.55 |

Heavy exercise (6-7 times per week) | BMR x 1.725 |

Extremely heavy exercise (more than 7 times per week + physical job) | BMR x 1.9 |

We all have different body types, and one shortcoming of the Harris-Benedict Formula is that it treats all bodies the same. This formula fails to consider leaner, more muscular individuals by underestimating the number of calories needed. Similarly, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the number of calories needed for overweight individuals is overestimated. The Harris-Benedict Formula is most beneficial to the average person trying to maintain a current acceptable body weight or that wants to shed a few pounds.

The
Katch-McArdle formula uses a different equation to calculate your BMR. It does not take sex
into consideration, but readily adjusts to varying body types. If you know your lean body
mass percentage (or your percentage of body fat), then you can apply this information to get
a more accurate BMR.

For example:

A 170 lb. person with 20% body fat would have 136 lbs. of lean muscle mass and 34 lbs. of fat: [170 lbs. x 20% body fat = 34] , then [170 lbs. – 34= 136 lbs. of lean muscle mass]

Then calculate your BMR by using the following equation:

370 + [9.79759519 x lean muscle mass] = BMR

370 + [9.79759519 x 136] = 1702.47295

Once you have established your BMR using the Katch-McArdle formula, apply the same numbers used in the Harris-Benedict table to incorporate the amount of weekly physical exercise to get your TDEE.

Below are a few more ways for you to figure out just how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.

For example:

A 170 lb. person with 20% body fat would have 136 lbs. of lean muscle mass and 34 lbs. of fat: [170 lbs. x 20% body fat = 34] , then [170 lbs. – 34= 136 lbs. of lean muscle mass]

Then calculate your BMR by using the following equation:

370 + [9.79759519 x lean muscle mass] = BMR

370 + [9.79759519 x 136] = 1702.47295

Once you have established your BMR using the Katch-McArdle formula, apply the same numbers used in the Harris-Benedict table to incorporate the amount of weekly physical exercise to get your TDEE.

Little to no exercise |
BMR x 1.2 |

Light exercise (1-3 times per week) |
BMR x 1.375 |

Moderate exercise (3-5 times per week) |
BMR x 1.55 |

Heavy exercise (6-7 times per week) |
BMR x 1.725 |

Extremely heavy exercise (more than 7 times per week + physical job) |
BMR x 1.9 |

Below are a few more ways for you to figure out just how many calories your body needs to maintain your current weight.

For example, if you weigh 150-pounds and consider yourself to be moderately active, then the following equation - 1500 + (1500 x 50%) = 1500 + 750, or 2250 calories - would apply to you.

This equation is one of the most accurate methods.

For men: RMR = 9.99 x wt (kg) + 6.25 x ht (cm) – 4.92 x age (yrs) + 5 For women: RMR = 9.99 x wt (kg) + 6.25 x ht (cm) – 4.92 x age (yrs) – 161

Once you know your recommended calories, adjust your daily intake in order to lose or gain weight. Given that 3,500 calories are equal to one pound, decrease or increase your daily allotment based on your specific goals.

When counting
calories to lose weight, there are a few key pieces of information to know before starting a
plan.

Whether improving your self-image or overall health, people who lose weight feel better. Starving your body will leave you feeling just the opposite: sluggish, run-down and sickly.

- Don’t try to lose weight too fast. Fad diets claiming you will lose more than 2 pounds per week are usually unhealthy, and your body is quick to reclaim the lost weight once off the diet. Eliminating 500 calories from your body per day, whether achieved by eating less, exercising more, or a combination of the two, will result in losing one pound per week. A pace for healthy weight loss is two pounds per week.
- Second, should your calorie counter determine eating less than 1000-1200 calories per day for a woman and 1300-1500 for a man, forgo what the calorie counter says and consume the aforementioned minimums. Eating less can sometimes cause the body to slow your metabolic rate; the slowing of the metabolism is sometimes referred to as “starvation mode.”

Whether improving your self-image or overall health, people who lose weight feel better. Starving your body will leave you feeling just the opposite: sluggish, run-down and sickly.

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