How to Calculate Amount of Calories Needed

28 September

To begin calculating calories required and macronutrients required for figure competition diet, it is necessary to learn a few basic terms.
BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): This is the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your bodyweight if you were comatose and did no physical movement during the day.
NEAT (Non-Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie requirements added by your daily activity that is NOT exercise related, such as walking, talking, shopping, working, washing, ironing, cooking, etc. This is also called incidental exercise.
EAT (Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie requirements associated with planned exercise. Unless one is performing extreme exercise, such as two hours a day or more, these calories will not have a large effect on your daily calorie requirements.
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TEF (Thermogenic Effect of Feedng): The calorie expenditure associated with eating, meal frequency does not affect number of calories consumed. Rather, it is a percent of total calories consumed on a daily basis. It varies according to macronutrient content and amount of fiber. For most omnivore diets, it is estimated at 15% of total calories. Protein is a little higher, around 25%, carbohydrates are variable, between 5% – 25%, and fats are low, around 5%. In summary, the more protein, carbohydrates and fiber is consumed, the higher the TEF.
TEE (Total Energy Expenditure): The total calories you require which is the sum of all of the above (BMR + NEAT + EAT + TEF).
Basal Calorie Requirements
There are many factors that affect one’s maintenance calorie requirements:
  • Age and sex – Males generally need more calories than females at any age.
  • Total weight and lean mass – More lean mass requires more calories
  • Physiological status – If one is sick, injured, pregnant, or going through a growth period.
  • Hormones – Thyroid hormone levels and growth hormone levels
  • Exercise level – The more activity is performed the more calories are needed.
  • Daily activity level – The more activity performed the more calories are needed.
  • Diet – Amount and ratios of macronutrient intake.
How to Estimate Calorie Requirements
The simplest and cheapest method of estimating needs is to base one’s intake on a standard calories per unit of weight, usually kilograms.
26 to 30 kcals/kg/day for normal, healthy individuals with sedentary lifestyles doing little physical activity [12.0-14 kcal/pound]
31 to 37 kcal/kg/day for those involved in light to moderate activity 3-5 x a week with moderately active lifestyles [14-16 kcal/ pound]
38 to 40 kcals/kg/day for those involved in vigorous activity and highly active jobs [16-18 kcal/ pound].
For those involved in HEAVY training (eg: athletes) – the demand is even greater:
41 to 50 kcals/kg/day for those involved in moderate to heavy training (for example: 15-20 hrs/ week training) [18.5-22 kcal/ pound]
50 or above kcals/kg/day for those involved in heavy to extreme training [> 22 kcal/ pound]
A number of more complex formulas which calculate BMR can also be used which is then multiplied by an ‘activity variable’ to give TEE.
To calculate BMR:
The most accurate formula for those who are relatively lean and have a good understanding of their body fat percentage is:
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM)
Where LBM = [total weight (kg) x (100 - bodyfat %)]/100
To convert to a total expenditure requirement, multiply the result from the above equations by an Activity Factor:
1.2 = Sedentary (Little or no exercise and desk job)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.0 = Extremely Active (Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job)
These activity factors generally include your lifestyle and work habits as well as your exercise in and out of the gym and a TEF of 15%, which is an average omnivore diet.
So How Accurate Is Calorie Calculating?
Although it can give a good estimated figure, it is still an estimate. Unfortunately most people OVERESTIMATE their activity factor, and UNDERESTIMATE their body fat. As a result they eat too much.
It is recommended to monitor one’s weight and measurements for 2-4 weeks. If one’s weight and measurements are stable, then it is very likely one has found their maintenance intake.
Recalculate Calories Needed Based on Goals
You will then need to decrease or increase calorie intakes based on the goal of losing weight or gaining weight.
The best approach is to calculate calories needed as a percentage of your maintenance calories.
to ADD weight: ADD 10-20% calories to your total from above
to LOSE weight: SUBTRACT 10-20% calories from your total from above
Now monitor your results and adjust as required.
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