If you find yourself in the yo-yo fitness cycle of calories bulking and cutting but you aren’t seeing results, then chances are, your intake needs an upgrade. More often than not, it’s calories that are setting you back. Not knowing how many calories you should eat in a day is a sure-fire way to slam the brakes on your progress. We hear it all the time; you are what you eat, but it’s true when it comes to the ideal number of calories per day. The average man needs about 2,500 daily calories per day. But, before we get into the science, let’s tick off a few of the basics.
What are Calories?
A calorie is a unit that measures energy. Simple, we know, but vitally important to understand. We most commonly see the term calorie when we discuss the energy content of the food and drink that we ingest. From a nutritional aspect, all types of food — whether they are fats, proteins, carbohydrates, or sugars — are important sources of calories, which people need to live and function.
How Many Calories Per Day?
There is no hard and fast rule for determining the exact amount of calories you should eat per day. Factors such as lifestyle, genetics, gender and weight will ultimately play a significant role in your caloric situation. The easiest way to look at things is to start with your goal. Do you want to;
- lose weight,
- add muscle, or
- maintain mass?
Your goal will ultimately determine the number of calories you should eat per day, however as a general rule, dieticians will work on ‘maintenance’ levels. Also referred to as Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), or how many calories you need to eat to maintain your current weight. According to the Australian Government’s Department of Health, for maintenance, the average woman needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day, with the average man needing 2,500 daily calories. For reference, the ‘average’ man used for this figure is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds. If your goal isn’t maintenance, however, this figure will need a bit of adjusting.
What is BMR?
Whether your goal is to lose weight or add muscle, the first thing to do is figure out your TDEE calorie needs. Your TDEE is calculated by first figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), then multiplying that value by an activity multiplier.
Your BMR represents how many calories your body burns when at rest. This is important for determining how many calories you should eat per day because it gives you a better understanding of how to eat and how much to work out. There are three formulas for determining your BMR; the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation, the Revised Harris-Benedict Equation and Katch-McArdle Formula. All of these are presented using metric measurements, where;
- W is body weight in kg
- His body height in cm
- A is age
- F is body fat in percentage
Mifflin-St Jeor Equation:
For men: BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A + 5
For women: BMR = 10W + 6.25H – 5A – 161
Revised Harris-Benedict Equation:
For men: BMR = 13.397W + 4.799H – 5.677A + 88.362
For women: BMR = 9.247W + 3.098H – 4.330A + 447.593
BMR = 370 + 21.6(1 – F)W
Each BMR formula will have a slightly different result, so it’s important that you take the measurements as a guide. Certain factors such as muscle mass, age, diet, supplements and genetics can all skew the results, so be aware this figure may not be 100 per cent accurate. Additionally, your level of activity also plays a significant role.
If you are an office worker who rides the desk nine hours a day, you will likely burn far fewer calories than someone who is a bricklayer or manual laborer. If you would like to find an exact BMR figure, it is best advised to visit a health care provider who can perform the appropriate tests.
5 Tips to Reduce Calories to Lose Weight
1. Drink more water
One of the simplest ways to boost your calorie intake is to drink more water. Staying hydrated can help you to feel fuller for longer, meaning you aren’t snacking constantly. Additionally, the greater your water consumption, the better your body becomes at regulating your required food intake. A 12-week study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water half an hour before meals helped people to lose 44% more weight.
2. Eat more protein
As far as losing weight goes, your biggest friend in the endeavour is definitely protein. Adding protein to your diet is the simplest and most effective way to lose weight with minimal effort. Studies show that protein can help to increase metabolic rate, whilst simultaneously curbing your appetite. This is because protein requires energy to metabolise, so eating a high protein diet can increase calories burned by 80–100 calories per day.
3. Eat larger meals
This piece of advice doesn’t necessarily equate to eating more. In fact, it actually means quite the opposite. In order to reduce the number of calories you are consuming, focus on eating larger meals at designated meal times. This way, you are less likely to snack and fill up on sugary drinks and treats.
4. Exercise and lift weights
In order to offset the reduction in calories you are consuming, your body will do this tricky thing where it compensates by saving energy, making you burn less. To combat this, you must exert your muscles by lifting weights. Lifting weights has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and stop your metabolism from slowing during long-term calorie restriction.
5. Steer clear of carbs
Reducing your carbohydrate intake is a highly effective method for cutting your calories. Eating a low-carb diet has been shown to help people lose weight more efficiently. Additionally, low carb diets have also shown to have many other benefits for health, especially for people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.