London Running PT

How to calculate your daily calorie requirement – How many calories should I be eating per day

This quick blog is twinned with my previous post Running for Fat Loss. In the article I talk about tracking your daily calorie intake to monitor how many calories you are ingesting per day. However, this number is only meaningful if we can compare it to what we ‘should’ be taking in (How many calories you ‘should’ be taking in will be dependent on your goals…read on).

The most well known equation for calculating calories is the Harris Benedict equation (see below). This calculation gives us your basal metabolic rate (BMR), or at least a good approximation of it. Your BMR is the calories needed to keep you alive if you just lay still all day. It’s the amount of calories you need to do the involuntary stuff like beat your heart or for your liver to function and it is responsible for the vast majority of most peoples daily calories.

Harris Benedict

Once you have your BMR you can use the below table to add your exercise/activity multipliers. TDEE stands for total daily energy expenditure. This adds to the BMR your calorie requirement for voluntary movement, such as your exercise programme, talking, scratching your leg etc.

TDEE multipliers:

Little to no exercise

Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x1.2

Light exercise (1-3 days per week)

Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x1.375

Moderate exercise (3-5 days per week)

Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x1.55

Heavy exercise (6-7 days per week)

Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x1.725

Very heavy exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts)

Daily kilocalories needed = BMR x1.9


Once you have run your calculations you will have the number of calories necessary to maintain your current weight at your current activity levels. Remember these numbers will not be 100% accurate. They will give you a rough average and you can, and most likely will, adjust them through trial and error. When I first ran my numbers the figure came out around 2,500. As I was trying to maintain weight at the time I aimed to eat 2,500 calories per day…except I started to feel like I was putting on weight. So I dropped it by 100 calories the next week…still putting on weight…so I dropped it again the week after. I ended up working out that my maintenance calorie intake lies around 2,250 and 2,300. This is the calorie intake I tried to eat to.

Once you have done a bit of trial and error and your happy with your maintenance calorie number then, if your goal is to lose weight you want to knock off some calories from this number and aim to eat this amount of calories. This will put you in a calorie deficit and you will begin to lose weight. Try to resist the urge to go for big calorie deficits in the desire to lose as much weight as possible. The most important reason being it’s not the healthiest way to go but also it might slow your weight loss down. When the body is forced into big calorie deficits it will slow down your metabolism because it thinks you’re starving and will try to preserve calories.

If your goal is to build muscle then you want to aim for a calorie surplus. It ‘s really hard to grow muscles without the extra calories!

Allow yourself to be flexible with your diet and if you’re a bit over or under one day you can always make up that deficit over the coming days. You can track your calories with apps like My Fitness Pal, which is a really easy to use, has gazillions of foods and is free app.

Musclefood Ltd

May 12, 2016

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