Calculate your calorie needs
If you want to change something on your body, it always makes sense to calculate your calorie needs. It doesn’t matter if you are losing weight slowly or quickly, gaining weight and gaining muscle mass, or if you want to maintain your weight on purpose
In this article, you will find the most important information you really need if you want to determine your calorie needs. In addition to some knowledge to better understand your calorie needs, I want to introduce you to the best calorie requirement formulas with advantages and disadvantages. From this, you can choose the right one for you.
I also want to give you some advice on how to interpret and deal with the relevant results. I always try to limit myself to what really helps you better understand your calorie needs and make the knowledge useful.
If you’re not interested in your own calculations, just want a quick and easy result for your calorie needs, you can get a pretty good approximation with my calorie calculator. Alternatively, you can also purchase a fitness tracker or sports watch with heart rate monitor and related function.
What is your calorie requirement and what does it consist of
The amount of energy your body needs to complete your daily tasks is measured in calories, or kilocalories (kcal for short). A kilocalorie is exactly the energy required to heat a kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.
Calorie requirements are made up of various components that you can influence in your life (to varying degrees). I have outlined the three most important components for you. In the picture below you can see what your calorie needs are.
I find it helpful to know and understand these important ingredients so that you can understand how you can also influence your calorie intake.
Your main exchange
Your basal metabolism is the amount of energy your body uses when you are doing almost nothing. You also have a need for energy if you lie on the couch all day. Basal metabolic rate can be calculated relatively accurately, even without complex measurements, and can only be slightly influenced.
Your basal metabolism increases as you increase. In particular, the increase in muscle mass also leads to an increase in your basal metabolic rate. This is because more muscles use more energy outside of training. Effective muscle training works twice.
Your movement in everyday life
Many people greatly underestimate movement in their daily life in terms of their contribution to calorie needs. In fact, the easiest way to increase your overall intake is through more exercise in your daily life. Unsurprisingly, after all, you train several hours a week, and in your professional and personal life you spend an average of 16 hours a day.
Your calorie intake during exercise
You should neither overestimate nor underestimate your calorie needs during exercise. Runners especially like to overestimate their energy consumption when jogging. You can read more about this in my article on the Goal for Weight Loss by Running. However, if you figure it out a bit, you can actually calculate your calorie needs as well as your training.
In addition, losing weight without sports in any case does not make much sense, you should not do without training due to the many sports benefits. Especially when you do strength training, it ultimately affects your basal metabolism in the medium term through additional muscle mass.
Why You Should Calculate Calorie Needs
Personally, I’m not a huge fan of calorie counting all the time. However, if you think calories don’t matter, you are wrong. Whether you want to lose weight, build muscle, or lose weight, you need to know how many calories you need to put into your body.
You can learn intuitive food. To do this, however, you must at least know what foods contain, what nutrients, and how much of them you need. If at some point your weight stops behaving according to your desires, you can sharpen this awareness again.
Of course, it doesn’t work just about how many calories you eat. The quality of your food is also very important if you really want to gain or lose weight effectively and efficiently. In addition to the calories you need, you should also consume enough protein, healthy fats (especially omega-3 fatty acids), carbohydrates for fuel, and adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables. so you get your micronutrients as well.
How to determine your calorie needs
As explained above, your calorie intake is made up of various components that you can (roughly) determine. There are different ways to do this.
You can purchase a fitness tracker or sports watch with the corresponding function. This determines your calorie needs based on some information about yourself (age, weight, etc.) that you can enter into the app, as well as your exercise profile. It is important that this watch has a good heart rate monitor and that you wear it all day. This is the only way to achieve a realistic result.
Personally, I think the Garmin vivoactive * is very good, good for everyday use and cheap.
You can measure your calorie intake even more accurately in a special laboratory. However, this shouldn’t be an option for most normal people. In my opinion, this only makes sense in competitive sports on a regular basis.
You can calculate your calorie needs. That’s what this article is about in the first place. There are various formulas for this which I would like to present to you here. They start at different points and can or should be combined as needed.
Calculate your total calorie requirement using a simple rule of thumb
Are you really in no mood to count or measure anything and still want to at least roughly estimate your calorie needs? Then the following rule of thumb is at least a very rough first indicator. The rule of thumb is as follows:
- Men consume about 34 kcal per kilogram of body weight every day
- Women consume about 31 kcal per kilogram of body weight every day
For people of average height, with an average active (or inactive) Western European lifestyle, these values are usually not so unrealistic. Please note, however, that you may be truly wrong.
Your results will be significantly more accurate if you determine your metabolic baseline and performance metabolism and combine the results.
Calculate Basal Metabolism
As explained earlier, your basal metabolic rate is the most stable part of your total calorie intake. If you want to calculate your calorie needs, this is the first step. There are various formulas for calculating your basal metabolic rate, which I would like to briefly present to you below.
Calculate basal metabolic rate using the Harris Benedict formula
It’s hard to believe, but in fact, the most common formula for calculating basal metabolic rate is over 100 years old. This still provides relatively reliable values, even if it is not entirely contentious. According to the Harris Benedict formula, you can calculate your basal metabolic rate as follows:
As a man, you use the following formula:
Basal metabolic rate in kcal = 66.5 + 13.7 x body weight in kilograms + 5 x body size in centimeters – 6.8 x Age in years
As a woman, you use the following formula:
Basal metabolic rate in kcal = 655 + 9.6 x body weight in kilograms + 1.8 x body size in centimeters – 4.7 x Age in years
Without much effort, you already have a relatively good idea of how fast your BMR is.
Is there another basic metabolic formula?
There used to be different formulas for calculating the basal metabolic rate. However, due to the simplicity and relatively good results of the Harris Benedict formula, this prevailed. The formula is absolutely sufficient for the first indication.
American Society of Clinical Nutrition Formula Only (from Mifflin-St. Jeor) (especially in the US Medical Area) is still relatively widespread. The formula is designed to more realistically represent the differences in calorie requirements between men and women. The formula is also much more modern (circa 1990). This formula calculates your base metabolic rate as follows:
basal metabolic rate in kcal = 10 x body weight in kilograms + 6.25 x height in centimeters – 5 x age in years + gender [+5 for men and -161 for women]
Especially for women, this formula should give 5% more accurate results.
Remember that these formulas only calculate your baseline metabolic rate. To get the total sales, you must add them.
Calculate Sales Revenue
Now that you know your base metabolic rate, you must add your metabolic rate. It is the need for energy for activities outside of your basic metabolic rate, that is, essentially for your daily movement and for sports.
PAL ratio as a measure of your productivity turnover
In nutritional science, the so-called PAL factor has established itself as an indicator of energy consumption, depending on the level of your personal activity. PAL stands for the level of physical activity and is determined by the type of activity of a person. The following values are used here:
|only sitting or lying down||1,2|
|almost exclusively sitting, little leisure||1.45|
|mostly sitting, with additional standing / walking activities||1.65|
|mostly standing / walking||1.85|
|physically demanding professional activities||2.2|
Just take the corresponding PAL ratio and multiply it by the number of hours spent on the corresponding activity. For example, if you do very strenuous physical work eight hours a day, just sit on the couch for the rest of the day and watch Netflix and sleep for eight hours, you would use the PAL ratio to calculate your total calorie requirement as follows:
Total turnover = [basal metabolism x 0.95 x 8 + basal metabolism x 1.2 x 8 + basal metabolism x 2.2 x 8] / 24
For simplicity, it is generally expected that 0.95 x 8 and 16 x (professional) activity levels.
Energy use in sporting events
Beyond exercise in your daily life, the final building block is your athletic performance. Calculating the calorie requirement is a little more difficult here, as energy consumption can vary greatly depending on the sport and the intensity.
A simple approach would be to simply use the next higher PAL ratio to calculate as an athletic person.
In addition, you can also find the correct energy consumption values for sports activities and calculate them for activity hours. Next, I collected several values that I knew. I have little experience in other sports. However, you can find meanings for this on the internet.
|sports activities||approx. kcal / h / kg|
|Slow running (7-9 km / h)||8|
|Fast run (10-12 km / h)||10|
|Medium speed operation (13-15 km / h)||12|
|Fast work (16-18 km / h)||14|
|Comfortable cycling (15-25 km / h)||8|
|Speed cycling (25-30 km / h)||10|
|Fast cycling (30-35 km / h)||12|
remember to use these values, which over a period roughly represent total energy intake, not additional calorie intake.
How accurate are the results and how to deal with them?
Depending on the type of calorie requirement determination that you ultimately determine, certain values also vary in accuracy.
However, none of the values you computed without measuring are truly accurate. Your outcome always represents the orientation from which you can start. You should check every one to two weeks to see if your weight has developed as planned. If not, you can increase or decrease your calorie intake accordingly.
Your conclusion on calorie needs
Now you can determine your calorie needs and even learn how to do it yourself. I’m sure the correct option was for you. It’s up to you whether you just use the activity tracker, consult my calorie calculator, or decide for yourself to calculate your calorie needs.
First of all, it is important that you use the results only as a guideline and as a starting point for nutrition. Only if you regularly check whether the desired development is happening and adjust if necessary will you also achieve the best possible success. Be sure to figure out what is really useful for your purpose.
Too many times I have seen people who wanted to gain muscle make serious mistakes, but the duration of muscle building was completely incorrect or did not correspond to the principles of their diet with a mass phase. The same goes for people who want to lose weight and define your muscles.
In addition to the amount of calories supplied, the type of nutrient supplied and proper exercise are important. Calorie intake is essential, but not the only building block if you want to change your body. So be careful what you should (still) consider.
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And don’t forget: your health is your health