Learn how to calculate the calories needed for your diet

Calculate the calories needed

To get good results, it's not enough to go training, you also need a good diet.

But before building your own diet, you need two things.

First you need to define what your goal is.

Do you want to gain muscle mass or lose weight?

Then, with the objective defined, you need to know how many calories you must ingest to achieve your goal.

Only after knowing how many calories you need can you prepare an effective diet to get the results you want.

Let's start.

Mifflin-St Jeor Equation

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is a simple formula to calculate your basal metabolism.

Basal metabolism corresponds to the calories your body needs to stay healthy.

However, it doesn't take into account your daily activity, and so it's just part of the story.

How to calculate basal metabolism?

The formula for calculating your basal metabolism differs slightly between men and women.

Below is the formula used for each one.


(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) - (5 x Age) + 5 = Basal Metabolism


(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) - (5 x Age) - 161 = Basal Metabolism


Manuel measures 1.80m, weighs 60kg and is 23 years old.

He realizes the importance of eating to get good results, and so he decides to calculate how many calories he needs daily.

The account for Manuel is as follows.

(10 x 60) + (6.25 x 180) - (5 x 23) + 5

600 + 1125 - 115 + 5 = 1615

Therefore, Manuel's basal metabolism is 1615 Kcal.

However, this is just the value for Manuel to keep his body functioning, in minimum conditions.

These are the calories your body uses without Manuel getting out of bed.

In other words, we need to do some more calculations.

Learn how to calculate the calories needed for your diet

Activity level

After calculating your basal metabolism, you need to take into account your daily activity level.

If you only ingest the calories of your basal metabolism, the result is simple.

You will lose weight.

Use the table below to calculate the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight.

Activity level


Little or no exercise


Light exercise (1 to 3 times a week)


Moderate exercise (3 to 5 times a week)


Intense exercise (6 to 7 times a week)


Maximum intensity (Twice a day, etc.)



You must use the value of your basal metabolism, and multiply by the number that corresponds to your type of activity.

The table is based on your exercise level, but it's important to take your daily life into account as well.

If you only train twice a week, but your work is extremely physically demanding, you should use a higher multiplier.

If on the other hand you train five times a week but spend the rest of the day sleeping, you can use a lower number.

In the case of Manuel, he trains four times a week and during the day he goes to college.

Looking at the table, the correct calculation would be.

1615 x 1.55 = 2503 Kcal

Manuel, in order to maintain his current weight, should ingest approximately 2503 Kcal per day.

Learn how to calculate the calories needed for your diet

Gain or lose weight

Now that you know how many calories you need to maintain your current weight, the last step is missing.

If you want to gain muscle mass, you need to add calories.

If, on the other hand, your goal is to lose fat, you must reduce calories.

Let's call Manuel again to illustrate how you should do this.

If Manuel wanted to gain muscle, he should take his 2503 kcal and add 300 kcal.

That is, your muscle mass diet was going to be composed of approximately 2803 kcal.

If, on the other hand, Manuel's goal was to lose weight, he would remove 300 kcal from the amount needed to maintain his current weight.

That is, to lose weight, Manuel's diet would have approximately 2203 kcal.

Final notes

These calculations give approximate values but not exact values.

You should use these numbers as a basis for building your diet, but it's also important to look at the results they give you.

If after three weeks you are not gaining weight at these values, you should increase your calories.

If on the other hand, after three weeks you are not losing weight, then you should reduce it.

Also, don't forget to use adequate amounts of each macronutrient to get these same calories.

Our article how much protein do i need per day give you a hand in that matter.

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2 thoughts on “Calcular as calorias necessárias”

  1. Good afternoon,

    I have been reading some of your articles on nutrition and training but I would like to clarify the following doubts.

    It is my intention to increase muscle mass in order to define the muscles, especially from the torso up. I already understand the importance of food in the goal, but what I ask is the following:

    – Workout 3 times a week. Monday and Friday I train the chest, back and arms. On the fourth I train the legs and abs. Will I have to pay attention to protein and carbohydrate intake only on training days or training and rest days?

    – At the same time I wanted to lose fat located in the belly, which is not much, enough to not show the abdominals (around 2-3 cm). Is it possible to reconcile the two objectives or do I have to work in parts.

    I've been training at a beginner level for around 4 months and at the beginning I wasn't very careful with food, but some weeks I was more careful with food and what I notice is that I can't lose more abdominal fat, on the contrary, sometimes I notice changes for more in the abdominal area.

    Can I have a low calorie diet to lose belly fat and at the same time have good results in bodybuilding training?


    1. Hi Nelson.
      Yes, you should pay attention to your nutrient intake every day.

      As for the rest, you basically have two options:

      A) You go on a controlled hypercaloric diet and increase your lean mass, and possibly decrease your fat mass a little.

      B) You are on a controlled hypocaloric diet and you decrease your fat mass, and possibly slightly increase your % of lean mass.

      In hypothesis A you are not eliminating fat properly, but when you increase the % of lean mass, you are automatically decreasing the % of fat mass.

      In hypothesis B you are not really gaining pounds of muscle, but by decreasing the % of fat mass without losing muscle, you are automatically increasing the % of lean mass.

      However, it's hard to gain muscle without putting on some fat and it's hard to lose fat without losing some muscle.

      Basically, if you want to increase muscle mass, you will hardly lose that abdominal fat, but if you focus on losing that fat, you will hardly increase muscle mass.

      Ideally, decide what is most important to you.

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