Calculating Your Daily Calorieneeds

Before you read this article i recommend that you read my previous one "The principles of building muscle". 

It will give you a better understanding of this one. 


I'm going to start the article with a little analogy. It might seem a bit silly but i think it paints a good picture of how building muscle works.

Therefore i decided to take it a step further - here it comes: 


To build a house you need three things:

House = Workers(body) + motivation(Lifting) + materials(food) 


I want you to consider the workers as your body. Now consider your workout session as the workers level of motivation.

Your workout motivates the body, just like money motivates your workers to build you a beautiful penthouse with an ocean view.

I wish it were that simple and you could just pay your body to build muscle.


Lets assume you have a body. You take your body through a workout that provides sufficient stimuli to make it want to build muscle.

Great - you now have the workers motivated. 

Now all you need is the materials. This is where you daily calorieintake come in to play, and this is were i stop the analogy before it falls apart.

The truth of the matter is: No calories = no muscles! 


In the earlier article i mentioned how many calories you need in relation to your maintenance  and the importance of not going too high or too low with your calorieintake.

Let's cut to the chase. When you're calculating your total daily calorie needs you need to add the sum of a few different factors.

There are 4 different factors that you will need to calculate seperately and then put together in the end. I'll go through them and then do the math after. 




1. Basal metabolic rate(BMR): The ammount of calories you burn doing absolutely nothing. It's the bare minimum of calories you need to keep up your bodys basic functions such as keeping your heart beating and breathing. BMR can be calculated pretty precious by applying your height, weight and age in a formula. There is a lot of different formulas for this "Mifflins formula" being among the most used one. The formula is genderdependenent and looks like this:


BMR for men = (10 x weight in kgs.) +6,25 x height in cm.) - (5 x age in years + 5)


BMR for ladies = (10 x weight in kgs.) + (6,25 x height in cm.) - (5 x age in years) - 161) 


Now im adding my own numbers to the BMR for men formula: 



(10 x 85) + (6,25 x 192) – (5 x 24 + 5) = 1925 = My BMR. The ammount of calories i would burn on a sunday after a heavy night of drinking, too lazy to do anything. 



2. Non-exercise induced thermogenisis(NEAT): The ammount of energi that you burn on non-exercise related activities. 

This could be shopping, cleaning, sitting restless on a chair, chewing gum etc. 

The average NEAT would for the average person be around 200-400 calories a day but is for some people as high as 600-800 calories. When deciding your NEAT you need to take in to consideration how "restless" you are as a person. Some people tend to do more fidgeting than others which throught a day can lead to a substantial increase in the ammount of calories burned. 



3. Thermic effect of physical activity(TEA): This is the ammount of energy that you burn being during activities that you consider as "physical active". This could be running, swimming, biking, hiking etc. 




4. Thermic effect of food(TEF): The body burns calories breaking down your food and distributing it to its final destination.

The ammount of energi used for this process is dependant on the nutritionvalues of the food your eating

Protein has the highest thermic effect out of the 3 macronutrients(carbohydrates, protein &fat). Let's say you eat a large lean chicken breast consisting of 400 calories of pure protein. 25% of these calories will be "lost" in the process of digestion. This is one of the arguments why a high protein intake is recommended for fat loss. The thermic effect is higher which will lead to a smaller ammount of the calories to be available post digestion. Fatty foods on the other hand doesn't require a whole lot of effort for the body to break down, therefore the TEF is lower. 


The thermic effect of the macronutrients is stated differently in the litterature but goes somewhat like this:

Protein = 20-30%

Fat = 3-7%

Carbohydrates = 5-10%





The definitive guide to calculate

your daily Calorie needs

"When you're building a house it isn't enough to have workers. You need the materials as well..."

Doing the math

Don't worry it's very simple. To calculate your total daily calorierequirments you have to add all the above mentioned.


I'll walk you through an example where i'm using myself. 


My BMR is already calculated(1925) 


Now i want to figure out my NEAT. This can't be done precious but knowing that i'm a very restless person who is doing a lot of fidgeting i choose to place myself in the high end(600 calories) 


Next step is to add my TEA. 

I'm usely a very active guy walking at least 10 kilometers a day, which i've found out burns around 500 calories. 

Besides walking i'm hitting the gym 4 times a week. Let's assume i'm burning 200 calories per session 4 times a week x 200 calories = 800 calories.

Now i divide 800 with 7 to figure out how much my gym sessions burns on average each day 800/7=114 


500 calories for the walking + 114 calories for the gym is 614 calories = TEA 


To be able to calculate my TEF i need to know how many calories i'm burning in order to calculate how many im burning on digestion. 



Therefore i add the ones we know. BMR(1925)+TEA(614)+NEAT(600) = 3039. 


That was easy, huh? Know we only need to add the TEF and we're done. 

An average calorieintake consist of a mix of carbs, fat and protein and is usely said to be around 10%. 



Therefore i have to add 10% to my current number: 3039x1.10 = 3342 = My maintenance calories.


That's it. 3342 is around the calories i burn on a day. 

I think it's pretty close since i'm consuming around 3600-3700 calories a day and slowly gaining weight. 


I suggest that you calculate your number and add 300 if you want to do a lean bulk and minus 500 if you want to cut down bodyfat. 


If you want to stay the same and not gaining or losing weight currently, just eat as you already do. No need to count anything. 

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