Calculate the calories you need
To get good results, don't just go practice, you also need a good diet.
But before you build your own diet, you need two things.
First you need to define your goal.
Do you want to gain muscle mass or lose weight?
Then, with the goal set, you need to know how many calories you must take to achieve your goal.
Only after knowing how many calories you need can you develop an effective diet to get the results you want.
Let's get started.
Mifflin-St Jeor Equation
The Mifflin-St Jeor equation is a simple formula for calculating 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, so it's only part of the story.
How to calculate basal metabolism?
The formula for calculating your basal metabolism differs slightly between man and woman.
Below is the formula used for each.
Man
(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) – (5 x Age) + 5 = Basal Metabolism
Woman
(10 x Body weight) + (6.25 x Height) – (5 x Age) – 161 = Basal Metabolism
Example
Manuel is 60 pounds, weighs 60 kg and is 23 years old.
He realizes the importance of eating to achieve good results, and so 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 only the value for Manuel to keep his body running under the minimum conditions.
These are the calories your body spends without Manuel getting out of bed.
I mean, we need to do a few more calculations.
Level of activity
Once you've calculated your basal metabolism, you need to take into account your daily activity level.
If you only eat the calories of your basal metabolism, the result is simple.
You're going to lose weight.
Use the table below to calculate the number of calories needed to maintain your current weight.
Level of activity |
Multiplier |
Little or no exercise |
1,2 |
Light exercise (1 to 3 times a week) |
1,375 |
Moderate exercise (3 to 5 times a week) |
1,55 |
Intense Exercise (6 to 7 times a week) |
1,725 |
Maximum intensity (Twice a day, etc.) |
1,9 |
You should use the value of your basal metabolism, and multiply by the number that corresponds to your type of activity.
The table is based on the level of exercise, but it is important to also take into account your day-to-day.
If you train only twice a week, but your work is extremely exhausting on a physical level, you should use a higher multiplier.
If on the other hand you train five times a week, but you spend the rest of the day sleeping, you can use a lower number.
In Manuel's case, he trains four times a week and during the day he's in college.
Looking at the table, the correct calculation would be.
1615 x 1.55 = 2503 Kcal
Manuel, to maintain his current weight, should ingest approximately 2503 Kcal per day.
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 should reduce calories.
Let's call Manuel again to exemplify how you should do this.
If Manuel wanted to gain muscle mass, he should take his 2503 kcal and add 300 kcal.
That is, your muscle mass gain 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 to the value needed to maintain his current weight.
That is, to lose weight, Manuel's diet would count on approximately 2203 kcal.
Final notes
These calculations offer 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 able to gain weight with these values, you should increase the calories.
If, on the other hand, after three weeks you're not able to lose weight, then you should reduce it.
Also remember to use adequate amounts of each macronutrient to get these same calories.
Our article how much protein I need per day gives you a hand on this.