These days, you can’t go anywhere without being bombarded with calorie counts. Many restaurants are printing calorie counts on menus, some forced to by law (sorry Applebee’s). Go to the Supermarket and there they are, branded across every package, box and bottle. Head to the gym and you can hop on the treadmill to sweat, gasp and watch the ‘calories burned’ slowly tick up.
But what do all these calories actually mean to you? Sure, the more calories you take in, the fatter you get and if you cut back, the weight comes off, right? Well, technically yes. But if you want to put on muscle and lose fat, then it’s time to figure out not just how many calories you need but also where those calories need to come from to get you there.
Your Calorie Calculator:
According to the International Sports Medicine Association (ISSA), figuring out how many calories your body needs to lose the flab, or put on some size, all comes down to some pretty simple arithmetic. Here’s how it goes. Take your body weight and multiple that number by eleven. This gives you your resting metabolic calorie count, i.e., the calories your body needs just to get by. Now, you need to figure out how many calories to add to account for your metabolic rate. To do this, look at the chart (see link to calculator below) and find the intersection between your age and metabolic rate. Take that number and multiple it by your resting calories. This gives you the amount of additional calories your body needs, based on your activity level. Now, add you resting and activity calories and you’ve got the total calories that your body needs to maintain your current weight.
Okay, so now you want to know how you can gain some muscle? Add 500 calories. Want to trim down? Take out 500 calories. Easy enough, right? That final number is your custom caloric intake to build your meal plan around.
So, now that you’ve got numbers figured out, we need to breakdown where these calories need to come from. Sadly, this is just as important as the getting the number of calories figured out (sorry, no Oreos and pizza). So, to find out what food groups these calories need to come from, let’s turn back to the ISSA model again to figure how many grams of carbohydrates, proteins and fats you need.
According to the ISSA, a fat calorie is assigned a value of “one,” a protein is assigned a value of “two,” and a carbohydrate is assigned a value of “three.” Sounds arbitrary, right? Not really, just stick with me. When you add up the values for fat, proteins and carbohydrates, you get a total value of six. Now, take your total calorie count and divide it by six. That number is the number of fat calories you’re allotted per day. Multiply that daily fat caloric count by two and you’ll get your daily intake of protein calories. Multiple the fat calories again by three, and you’ll have your total daily carbohydrate calories. To double check your calculations, add together your daily fat, protein and carbohydrate numbers and you should end up with your overall daily calorie count you came up with earlier.
Now, we’re almost done…I swear.
Okay, so you’ve got two out of the three numbers you need to know. That final number is breaking these calories down into grams per day. To do this, simply divide your fat calories by nine, and your protein and carbohydrate calories by four.
There you have it. You’ve got the number of daily calories you need to meet your goal. The total number of calories by food group. And, the amount, in grams, per food group your allowed by day.
Now all you need to do now is plan your meals, stick to your plan, and watch your body take on a new shape. Okay, maybe it’s not quite that easy. But, it sure is a lot easier to make big changes when you know where to start and how to get there.
Click below to download the calculator and find our how many calories you need. Fill in the highlighted areas and get your counts.