How To Calculate Your Daily Caloric Needs


An individual’s daily caloric needs depend on three factors: resting daily energy expenditure, activity level and body-weight goal (maintenance, fat loss or muscle gain).

The resting daily energy expenditure (RDEE) is the amount of energy the body requires at rest and is measured in calories.  A specific number of calories are needed daily in order to perform functions within the body that sustain life.

The RDEE calculation for men is 66.0 + (13.7 x body mass in kg) + (5.0 x height in cm) – (6.8 x age). The RDEE calculation for women is 655 + (9.6 x body mass in kg) + (1.85 X height in cm) – (4.7 x age).

Dividing body-weight by 2.2 will convert pounds to kilograms. Multiplying the total number of inches by 2.5 will convert inch height to centimeters.

To determine daily caloric intake for maintaining current bodyweight RDEE must be multiplied by one of the following numbers that best describe the current level of physical activity. For sedentary individuals multiply RDEE by 1.2; somewhat active (walk less than 2 miles per day): multiply RDEE by 1.3; moderately active (exercise most days of the week at a gym or attend dance or aerobics class several times per week): multiply RDEE by 1.4; very active (exercise vigorously as in a specific sport or perform a job that requires a great deal of physical labor): multiply RDEE by 1.5.

For fat loss, a goal of 1-2 lbs per week is reasonable and obtainable for most people.  It takes a deficit of 3500 calories to lose 1lb of body fat. A deficit of 500 calories per day should result in a weekly fat loss of 1 lb.

If a higher fat loss goal is desired it may be more effective to increase activity levels rather than decrease total caloric intake. A daily caloric intake of less than 1200 may result in a slower metabolism and eventual loss of muscle mass.

A daily increase of 600 to 900 calories may support a weekly 1-2 lb gain in muscle mass, assuming that all extra calories actually do synthesize lean tissue. These numbers are general guidelines and can vary depending on the type, duration, intensity and frequency of training methods that are specific to increasing muscle mass.

For advice on specific workout routines that are geared towards body fat reduction and/or gains in muscle mass consult with a Certified Fitness Professional. For specific meal planning, consult with a dietician.

Natalie Gibbins is a San Diego Personal Trainer, who’s passion for weight training and fitness began in 1989, while growing up in England. She was providing Personal Training in a Point Loma gym for more than 10 years, before opening The Private Gym in Ocean Beach, where she helps people of all ages lead healthier lives.

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