How to determine daily caloric needs

The purpose of this post is to provide the information needed to figure out your total daily caloric needs when constructing a diet. I figure I should post this now so that if your New Year’s resolution is to lose weight, you at least have a place to start regarding diet. I’m apologizing now as there is quite a bit of math you will need to do.

Step 1

  • Get your body fat tested.
  • The biggest problem with guessing body fat is most people drastically underestimate their body fat levels.
  • For example, fit college guys think they are in the high single digits when they’re really in the mid-teens and athletic fit women think they’re in the high teens when it’s more like the mid-twenties.
  • The point is without an accurate form of body fat testing, you are going to need to add 5-7% onto what you think, sorry.

Step 2

  • The next step we need to do is estimate your lean body mass. LBM is your body weight minus the fat. Here is a link for LBM; .
  • Example:  if you weigh 300lb and have 20% body fat, you would be carrying 60lbs of fat, giving you a LBM of 240lb.

Step 3

  • Now you need figure out your BMR (basal metabolic rate).
  • This is a simple formula for men and women:  11.5 X LBM (in pounds)
  • Example: Let’s use the same 300lb person from the previous example whose LBM was 240; 11.5 x 240 = 2587.5

Step 4

  • We have figured our LBM and BMR, so the next step in figuring out our total energy expenditure is to now determine our activity level. The choice will range from sedentary to extremely active.
  • Sedentary (desk job little to no exercise) BMR x 1.2
  • Lightly active (light exercise 1-3 days per week) BMR x 1.3-1.4
  • Moderately active (moderate activity 3-5 days per week) BMR x 1.5-1.6
  • Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days per week) BMR x 1.7-1.8
  • Example: Using the 300 lb. example from above with light activity level; BMR=2587.5 x 1.3 = 3363.75. This number represents the calories needed each day.

Step 5

  • We now add in the nutrients
  • Protein- 1-1.5 grams per pound depending on goals
  • Fat- .25-.29 grams per pound depending on goals
  • What’s left over is the carbs
  • This is where it gets complicated; you need to convert grams to calories.
  • Multiply the Protein grams x 4, carb grams x 4, and fat grams x 9.
  • Add them together and you have your total breakdown.

Step 6

Email me and I’ll send you an excel spread sheet where all you have to do is input your weight and body fat and it does everything else for you.  I want you to understand the steps involved.

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