You need to know how many calories you need to be eating to reach your goals.
Today, you’re going to learn how to find that amount.
If you already know how to count calories…
And know how many calories you need to either gain 1 pound per week or lose about 1 pound per week… You’ve got a head start on most people.
This page will also help when you need to increase or decrease the amount of calories you are eating each week.
For fat loss goals, you will always increase activity before decreasing calories. For muscle building goals, you will always increase calories first.
Let me explain…
There are many options for calculating the amount of calories you need to maintain your body weight.
The Katch-McArdle formula is the most accurate method of determining the number of calories you need to maintain your body weight.
You need to know that this is only an estimate, but it is a fairly good estimate for most people.
Many people shy away from this method because it requires you to know your lean body mass. In order to calculate lean body mass, you need to know your body fat percentage.
You are required to learn how to measure your body fat percentage on this program, so there’s no reason to shy away from this method.
It’s not difficult, only takes a few minutes, and I’ve included a complete guide to measuring body fat with this program.
The Katch-McArdle formula is accurate for both men and women, so you don’t have to use different formulas based on gender. This works for both men and women.
Once you know your lean body mass, you can use the steps below to calculate your maintenance calorie level:
Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (9.82)(Lean Body Mass in pounds)
Once you have your Basal Metabolic Rate, you need to multiply your result by an activity factor to get an approximation of your total daily energy expenditure. This result will be the approximate number of calories it takes to maintain your body weight.
With that number, we can then calculate the number of calories you need to either lose weight or gain weight.
Choose one of the activity factors that best fits your daily lifestyle the majority of the time:
1. Sedentary means that you perform little to no exercise each day and you have a job that doesn’t require you to move around much. A desk job is a good example.
Sedentary Activity Factor = 1.2
Maintenance Calories (Sedentary) = Basal Metabolic Rate x 1.2
2. Lightly Active means you exercise lightly 1 to 3 days per week. This could mean that you play basketball a few times per week or go jogging a few times per week.
Light Activity Factor = 1.375
Maintenance Calories (Light) = Basal Metabolic Rate x 1.375
3. Moderately active means that you exercise at a medium intensity 3 to 5 days per week. If you’re following this program, you will at least be at this level.
Moderate Activity Factor = 1.55
Maintenance Calories (Moderate) = Basal Metabolic Rate x 1.55
4. Very active means you’re performing high intensity exercise for 6 to 7 days per week. Some of you on this program will get to this activity level depending on your other activities outside of this program.
Very Active Activity Factor = 1.725
Maintenance Calories (Very Active) = Basal Metabolic Rate x 1.725
5. Extremely active means you are performing high intensity exercise daily and sometimes even more than once per day. A good example would be playing a sport, lifting weights, and running daily. Another example would be a physically demanding job plus this program.
Extremely Active Activity Factor = 1.9
Maintenance Calories (Extremely Active) = Basal Metabolic Rate x 1.9
Let’s go through a quick example for those of you who may have trouble with calculating your maintenance calories…
Example Calculation for Maintenance Calories
Body Weight = 200 pounds
Body Fat Percentage = 20% or 0.20 in the calculation below
Lean Body Mass = (200)(1-0.20) = 160 pounds
Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (9.82)(160) = 1941 calories
Activity Factor = 1.55
Maintenance Calorie Intake = (1941 calories)(1.55) = 3009 calories
So, a person that weighs 200 pounds has 20% body fat and has a moderately active lifestyle will need about 3000 calories to maintain a body weight of 200 pounds assuming he/she keeps activity levels constant.
What is your maintenance calorie level? Here are calculations for myself as another example:
Body Weight = 230 pounds
Body Fat Percentage = 13.5% or 0.135 in the calculation below
Lean Body Mass = (230)(1-0.135) = 199 pounds
Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (9.82)(199) = 2324 calories
Activity Factor = 1.55
Maintenance Calorie Intake = (2324 calories)(1.55) = 3602 calories
Note: These calculations make many assumptions and assume that you are exercising according to the activity level you choose. Your result isn’t going to be perfect. But, this result does give you a good starting point if you need one.
After a few weeks on the program, you will know the exact amount of calories needed to gain or lose weight.
The exact amount of calories you need to gain or lose weight is constantly changing based on many factors including recent muscle gain and fat loss. That’s why you must always make adjustments to your program — sometimes on a weekly basis.
I provide all the guidelines you need for making adjustments in other articles on this website.
If you are trying to build muscle and eat the amount of calories estimated by the Katch-McArdle formula and then skip your workouts, you will most likely gain weight in the form of body fat.
You need to consistently lift weights and perform cardiovascular exercise as scheduled.
Calculating Calorie Levels
No one wants to stay the same (unless you are in maintenance mode and already have the body you want), so you won’t want to intake an amount of calories that keeps you at the same body weight.
But, you do need to calculate your maintenance calorie level.
This will give you a starting point for calculating calorie levels that cause you to gain weight or lose weight.
Please don’t worry about all of the calculations throughout this program. I will be providing you with all the tools you need to make everything very easy for you.
Muscle Building Calorie Levels:
|Maintenance + 2(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance + 4(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance + 6(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance + 8(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance + 10(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
Calorie levels can continue infinitely, but most of you will never need to go past calorie level 5 for building lean muscle mass. When and if you ever get to the higher calorie levels, you’ll find out how hard it is to eat that much food.
I’ve been there before. Those of you have very fast metabolisms may have to go there too.
If you are one of those people who think you just can’t gain weight, I can tell you that you are wrong. You can gain weight. You can build muscle. You simply have to eat more food consistently. Gaining weight really is that easy.
Now on to the fat loss calorie levels…
Fat Loss Calorie Levels:
|Maintenance – 2(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance – 4(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
|Maintenance – 6(Lean Body Mass in Pounds)|
You will never have to decrease calories much at all on this program.
You will always increase cardiovascular exercise as first priority.
If needed, you will decrease calories according to your fat loss calorie levels as calculated above. You will hardly ever need to decrease calories as low as calorie level 3.
Remember, every time you decrease calories there is a chance you activate that starvation response from your body.
Here are a few example calorie levels for different people with different goals:
160 Pound Male
10% Body Fat
144 pounds Lean Body Mass
Goal is to Build Muscle
Muscle Building Calorie Levels:
Level 0 = 2765
Level 1 = 3053
Level 2 = 3341
Level 3 = 3629
Level 4 = 3917
Level 5 = 4205
160 Pound Female
25% Body Fat
120 pounds of Lean Body Mass
Goal is to Lose Fat
Fat Loss Calorie Levels:
Level 0 = 2400
Level 1 = 2160
Level 2 = 1920
Level 3 = 1680
Now you have your calorie levels, but what are you going to use them for? Let’s find out…
How to Use Your Calorie Levels
Once you have your calorie levels calculated (required before you start any of our programs), you have what you need to make adjustments to your diet when needed. Let me explain:
You will soon learn that you will be measuring your progress on a weekly basis. When and if your progress slows, you will have these calorie levels available as an option for adjusting your diet.
Increasing or decreasing calories may or may not be one of the options you choose to go with to continue making progress. But, you will have this option available.
You will usually only move one calorie level at a time. Let’s say that you are trying to build muscle and therefore trying to gain 1 pound of muscle per week. You are in the 3rd week of your first ever muscle building cycle and have already gained 3 pounds of muscle over the first 2 weeks on calorie level #1.
Your progress this week shows that you only gained 0.3 pounds of muscle. You want to get that back up to 1 pound of muscle gain per week. What do you do?
You go straight to your muscle building calorie levels that you calculated and increase the amount of calories you are eating to calorie level #2. You then check your progress at the end of week 3 and see how much muscle you have gained.
If it happens to be 1 pound of muscle, you stay at calorie level #2 until you need to adjust it again.
If you want to be more aggressive and add a slight risk of some fat gain along with muscle gain, you could increase it another level.
This is why you need to calculate calorie levels, and that’s how you utilize them during any of our programs.
Other programs never teach you how to make adjustments to continue making progress. On those programs, you would continue making zero progress for weeks on end with no adjustments.
You end up wasting your precious time and energy on other programs that have no adjustments for you to make. All of that hard work is wasted.
That won’t happen on any of our programs. Continuous progress is the name of the game with us. You get continuous progress that you deserve for all the hard work you are doing. Progress that you make on a weekly basis really begins to add up over the weeks.
Other programs give you some decent progress for a few weeks and then it all stops. With our programs, progress never stops.