A diet calculator will tell you exactly how many calories to eat for your goals.
Because you need to know how many calories you should be eating to reach your goals, a calculator is very useful.
Once you read this page and use the diet calculator you'll find here, you'll know how many calories to eat to lose weight, build muscle, or burn fat.
Let's get to it. If I don't give you everything you need today to calculate your diet plan, please let me know in the comments section.
Find Your Basal Metabolic Rate
The very first step in calculating your diet plan is to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).
Definition of BMR = the rate at which the body uses energy while at rest to keep vital functions going.
Once you know your basal metabolic rate then you can adjust that rate for the amount of activity you usually do each week.
There are 4 different BMR estimation formulas that can be used to calculate BMR:
- Original Harris-Benedict Equation
- Revised Harris-Benedict Equation
- Mifflin St Jeor Equation
- Katch-McArdle Formula
For the first 3 equations listed above, you need your body mass in kilograms (kg), height in centimeters (cm), and age in years.
Today, we won't be using any of the first 3 equations as the last is more accurate than the others because it uses your body composition.
Now, I want to go over the Katch-McArdle formula in detail as we will use this for your diet calculator.
Use the Katch-McArdle Formula Diet Calculator
This awesome formula quickly allows you to predict your Resting Daily Energy Expenditure (RDEE).
Notice that I said “predict” as you'll find this is just a guess as every person is different. This does give you a good starting point, though.
Here's the formula:
Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (21.6 x Lean Body Mass)
Note: Lean Body Mass in the formula above is in kilograms and not pounds. Simply divide your lean body mass in pounds by 2.2 to obtain kilograms.
Lean body mass is the amount of mass in your body that is not body fat. For example, body fat mass will be calculated using body fat percentage.
Then, lean body mass is simply your entire body weight minus your body fat.
I'll show you how to find your lean body mass next.
What's Your Body Fat Percentage?
Next, you'll need to find your body fat percentage. In order to do this the most accurate way, you'll need a low cost pair of body fat calipers.
This method only takes a few seconds once you get the hang of it.
I don't recommend obtaining your body fat percentage from body fat scales or other devices as they simply don't work very well AT ALL. I've been doing this a long time and have never seen a very accurate body fat scale.
Once you have body fat calipers, use the method outlined below:
Find Your Suprailiac
The first step is to find your suprailiac. It's located about an inch above the hip bone. Most experts recommend you take this measurement from the right side of your body.
See figure 1 to help you find this location:
You should practice finding this location.
Make sure you are standing up and practice finding it over and over again.
You always want to take this measurement in the same location (if you use the WLC System, you'll use this measurement to measure your progress).
I have a small freckle in the location that I take this measurement so it's easy for me to find the same spot every time.
Pinch The Suprailiac Skin Fold
Next, you want to pinch the fat in this location.
But, you'll only want to pinch the skin and fat in this location and not the muscle. See figures 1 and 2 to help understand this point:
Practice feeling the difference between muscle and fat when pinching this fat skinfold. You'll get the hang of it quickly.
Simply use your thumb and index finger to pinch the fat skinfold. Always use the same thumb and index finger. Don't switch hands. Attempt to duplicate the same method each and every time you take this measurement.
Use the Body Fat Calipers to Measure the Fat Skin Fold Thickness in Millimeters (mm)
Now that you have the fat skinfold in your thumb and index finger, take the calipers and measure the thickness.
See figures 4 and 5 below:
Use your opposite hand to clamp down the calipers slowly until you hear a click. Read your value from the calipers and record the results so you don't forget it.
Notice the diagonal nature of the measurement.
Video How To for Surpailiac Measurement
Put Your Result in the Following Formulas for Male and Female
Your suprailiac skin fold measurement will be represented in the formulas below by a capital S while your age in years is represented by “Age:”
Women Body Fat % = 1.223xS – 0.0134S^2 + 0.0124xAge + 6.07
Men Body Fat % = 1.378xS – 0.0174S^2 + 0.213xAge – 5.84
Don't worry about these formulas as I will provide a diet calculator that will do everything for you.
Calculate Lean Body Mass
Now that you have your body fat percentage and body weight (measure on a scale first thing in the morning) you can calculate your lean body mass.
Lean Body Mass = Body Weight (lbs) – Body Weight (lbs) x Body Fat Percentage
This will give you the lean body mass number in pounds to enter into the Katch-McArdle formula diet calculator.
Insert Lean Body Mass in Pounds into Katch-McArdle Diet Calculator Formula
Do you remember the Katch-McArdle formula? I am pasting it here again:
Basal Metabolic Rate = 370 + (21.6 x Lean Body Mass)
Simply put your lean body mass into the formula, and you'll have your basal metabolic rate!
Yes, that seemed difficult but it's really not.
The diet calculator download I will provide will do all of this for you.
Calories to Maintain Your Current Body Weight
Now that you have your basal metabolic rate, we need to adjust it for your typical activity levels.
Once you do that, you'll know about how many calories are needed to “maintain” your current body weight.
From there, you can add more calories to build muscle through progressive weight training.
Or, you can subtract calories (not too much, though) for fat burning or weight loss goals.
If you want to stay the same body weight and just want to work on increasing strength while staying the same weight, you are finished and would simply use your maintenance calorie level once the activity level adjustments are made.
Activity Level Adjustments for the Diet Calculator
In order to make the right activity level adjustments for this diet calculator, you need to decide on your activity level and activity factor.
Here's what the different levels look like:
Choose Your Activity Level
Activity Factor = 1.200
Little to no exercise. Desk job and not much movement throughout the day.
2. Lightly Active
Activity Factor = 1.375
Light exercise or sports 1 to 3 days per week.
3. Moderately Active
Activity Factor = 1.550
Moderate exercise or sports 3 to 5 days per week.
4. Very Active
Activity Factor = 1.725
Hard exercise or sports 6 to 7 days per week.
5. Extremely Active
Activity Factor = 1.900
Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job or 2 a day training for an event or sport.
Multiply Activity Factor by BMR
Now, all you have to do to find your maintenance calorie level is to multiply your basal metabolic rate by your personal activity factor.
The resulting diet calculator formula looks like this:
Maintenance Calorie Level = BMR x Activity Factor
That's it. Now you have a good approximation as to how many calories it takes to maintain your current body weight with your current activity levels.
You might notice that an increase in activity will help you to lose weight as this increases your BMR.
One of the secrets to burning body fat with the WLC System is to always increase activity versus decreasing calories. This is a “fat burning” technique versus starving yourself to lose weight.
Your Personal Calorie Levels
Now that you know your maintenance calorie levels with the diet calculator formulas above, you can calculate personal calorie levels for building muscle and burning fat.
Then, you can choose the goal you want and start at the first level for fat loss OR the first level for building muscle.
With the WLC System, here's the calorie levels I have designed into the system:
- Fat Loss Level 2 = Maintenance Level – 4 x Lean Body Mass
- Fat Loss Level 1 = Maintenance Level – 2 x Lean Body Mass
- Maintenance Calorie Level = Maintenance Level
- Muscle Building Level 1 = Maintenance Level + 2 x Lean Body Mass
- Muscle Building Level 2 = Maintenance Level + 4 x Lean Body Mass
- Muscle Building Level 3 = Maintenance Level + 6 x Lean Body Mass
- Muscle Building Level 4 = Maintenance Level + 8 x Lean Body Mass
- Muscle Building Level 5 = Maintenance Level + 10 x Lean Body Mass
- Muscle Building Level 6 = Maintenance Level + 12 x Lean Body Mass
Notice that the calorie levels in the diet calculator are based on your lean body mass.
For example, if you want to focus on fat loss, you simply take your maintenance calories and subtract 2 times your lean body mass.
Also notice that you should never go below fat loss level 2. Instead, you should keep calories at that minimum number and focus on “burning” fat through more activity versus starving yourself with fewer calories.
Build Muscle or Burn Fat Goals
Once you have your personal calorie levels calculated with the diet calculator, you need to decide on your goals.
It's always best to choose ONE of these 2 goals:
- Build Muscle
- Burn Fat
The 2 goals are conflicting as you will eat more calories to build muscle and eat fewer calories to burn fat.
Choose 1 goal, but you'll most likely get some of the other when focusing in on one goal only.
For example, if you have way too much body fat you will definitely focus on fat loss. If you just have a little too much body fat, you can focus on building muscle and you'll most likely lose some of the excess fat too.
Your goal is important. Never attempt to do both at the same time. Focus in on a single goal and put everything you have into that specific goal.
Calorie Shifting Method Diet Calculator
Within the WLC System, I also talk about calorie shifting between the different workout days and rest days.
This is simply an introduction to calorie shifting as it's a very powerful method that can help you burn more fat and build more muscle.
For example, here's a sample weight lifting schedule:
- Day 1 = Weight Lifting Workout A
- Day 2 = Rest
- Day 3 = Weight Lifting Workout B
- Day 4 = Rest
- Day 5 = Weight Lifting Workout A
- Day 6 = Rest
- Day 7 = Rest
During the weight lifting workout days, you can bracket a couple of meals around your workouts which adds more overall calories during those days.
When you do this, you'll need to subtract calories on the rest days to hit your average target for calories each day.
For instance, if you're trying to hit 3,000 calories average per day for a muscle building goal, you need a total of 3,000 x 7 days = 21,000 calories per week.
You could have 2,700 calories per day on rest days and 3,400 calories per day on workout days.
This example would look like this:
- Day 1 = 3400 Calories
- Day 2 = 2700 Calories
- Day 3 = 3400 Calories
- Day 4 = 2700 Calories
- Day 5 = 3400 Calories
- Day 6 = 2700 Calories
- Day 7 = 2700 Calories
This is just an example and calorie shifting can be more extreme or less extreme than the example above.
With the WLC System, I simply like to ensure you are eating all whole foods from natural sources first.
You should work on getting a good amount of protein each meal from a whole food source like grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken, whole eggs, and similar foods from good sources.
After that, just add powerful foods like raw milk, vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, berries, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, oils, and healthy fats.
You don't need to worry so much about macronutrients so much until you are eating the best overall foods.
And once you do that, you'll probably be happy with your results anyway. It's VERY important to improve your food sources so you get the fastest results possible.
There are all types of recommended protein intakes. Read about one view here: ASCM Protein Intake.
The Very Minimum Protein Intake
The smallest amount of protein you should have in your diet is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight (daily protein intake).
For a 200 pound person, this would be 72 grams of protein per day.
Better Protein Recommendations
For people who are lifting weights, I recommend a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein per pound of body weight. This means a 200 pound person who lifts weight each week should have a daily target of 160 grams of protein.
This will help you to build muscle and burn fat but also remember to increase water intake.
Some muscle building experts will even recommend up to 2 grams of protein per pound of body weight. I no longer recommend this as it's very difficult to get this amount from whole foods each day and it's very expensive.
This forces the average person to start looking to protein supplements, which aren't healthy for you at all!
Protein as a Percentage of Your Diet
Other ways to calculate protein intake is to use percentages for your total calories.
For example, you might want to have 30% of your total calories come from protein (input this into the WLC diet calculator quickly and easily).
If you are targeting 3,000 calories total each day your percentage from protein would be 3,000 x 0.30 = 900 calories from protein.
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Since protein contains 4 calories per gram, you would take 900 calories and divide it by 4 to get 225 grams of protein.
Carbohydrate intake for diets is an amazing subject to me.
Low Carb Diets
Carbohydrates or “carbs” have been a very popular subject in the diet industry for a long time. Entire diets (low carb diets like the Atkins diet) are built around minimizing carbohydrate intake.
Much of this is due to the fact that there are many horrible carbohydrates out there. So these diets can be a good thing be eliminating bad carbohydrates (processed and refined foods).
But these low carb diets have actually HURT many people very badly. People miss out on awesome foods such as fruits and whole grains.
I DO NOT recommend a low carb to zero carb diet as you will be missing out on awesome nutrients in fruits and whole grains that help you build muscle and burn fat.
You Need Carbohydrates for Premium Fuel
If you want to get the most out of your weight lifting, cardio, and conditioning workouts, you need carbohydrates.
Now, with that said, you don't need processed and refined carbohydrates of ANY type.
This includes pre and post workout drinks and shakes.
Carbohydrates as a Percentage of Your Diet
If you want to use the diet calculator to see how many grams per day you should have for carbs, you need to know this:
Carbohydrates = 4 calories per gram
If you're targeting 2,500 calories per day and you want 40% of those calories to come from carbs, you would use the following formula:
2500 x 0.40 = 1000 calories from carbs
1000 / 4 = 250 grams of carbohydrates
So you would try to get 250 grams of carbohydrates for a 2,500 calorie diet targeting 40% calories from carbs.
Dietary fat is a very important part of your diet.
Low Fat Diets
No diet should be extremely low in fat.
There was a period of time when no one wanted to eat foods with fat in them. The grocery stores had “low fat” or “no fat” foods everywhere.
For example, you would no fat cheese everywhere! Cheese is not meant to have no fat. This isn't natural.
Instead, stick to foods in their natural forms and don't take the natural substances out of your foods!
Higher Fat Diets
Higher fat diets that include fats from healthy sources like nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and other healthy sources can create an even better muscle building enivronment within your body.
I recommend higher fat intakes because nuts and seeds receive my highest recommendation.
When you add these awesome foods, your fat intake will be higher.
Fats as a Percentage of Your Diet
A diet calculator will show that dietary fat includes 9 calories per gram:
Fat = 9 calories per gram
You might want to hit 42% of your calories from fat on your 3200 calorie diet. How would you know how many fat grams you need?
You can use the diet calculator, or do the calculations manually:
3200 x 0.42 = 1344 calories from fat
1344 / 9 = 149 grams of fat
So you would target 149 grams of fat each day from all of your meals combined.
Diet Calculator Download
You can now download the diet calculator that does everything for you at the link below. Please see the “how to use the diet calculator” video just below this section.
You'll need Microsoft Excel to use the diet calculator download above.
If you have any issues, leave a comment at the bottom of this page or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), and I'll make sure you get the diet calculator working for you.
How to Video for the WLC Diet Calculator
Conclusion to Diet Calculator
I hope you have enjoyed this diet calculator page and have found everything you need here.
If there's anything else I can help you with, please leave a comment or question below.
I'll get back to you soon with the answers to your questions or response to your comments.
Have a great time using this diet calculator to get the best results of your life!