Do you ever wonder how many calories you need to gain or lose the weight you want? Or how many calories you would need to consume to just maintain basic bodily functions? Like, if you just laid in bed all day and did absolutely nothing, how much nutrition would you need?
I will be the first to tell you that you don’t have to count calories to reach your body size goals, and actually I will encourage you not to. I discourage any sort of tracking, one because personally I really do not like anything involving formulas or numbers, but two because that isn’t any way to live your entire life!
If you have a great foundation for healthy eating and exercise, you can then make adjustments to how many calories you burn, and the types and how many calories you are consuming. These things will still get the results you desire, all while focusing on life, not a mathematical equation or what color code your food falls under.
Those aren’t behavior changes, those are forced and constrained guidelines that someone else made up, not personally for you.
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So then you are probably wondering why I would even put a calorie calculator on my site or even go to the extent of writing about it in a blog!?
I’m writing about it for two reasons,
First to share why I don’t want you to dwell on dialing down to calorie counting. It is possible to reach your goals with a healthy foundation and the correct habit transitions, and to maintain your goal with behavior changes.
The second reason I’m sharing the calculator with you is that as much as I steer away from numbers,there is value in knowing where you are at and using the information as a guide to help you get where you want to be. This also helps you better understand how exercise works with the calories you consume.
Let’s be honest here, if you are eating cake every day, we don’t need to dial it down to knowing how many calories you need to consume verses how many you actually are. We know that to start, we need to swap that cake out for something more nutrient dense!
But let’s just say you’ve taken a good look at what you are eating, have been able to sustain the behavior changes of putting nutrient dense foods in place of lesser, and you still are not getting the results you want. There are two ways to look at it now, one is how much physical activity you are doing and the other is how many calories are you actually consuming.
Let’s start with finding how many calories you need
Fill in the weight, height and age in the calculator below.
This number tells you that if you laid in bed all day and did absolutely nothing, this would be approximately how many calories your body needs to do the involuntary internal processes to stay functioning.
Since we all typically get up out of bed every day and at least walk from our beds to the bathroom and kitchen, etc. you could assume that you may burn a few more than just the number calculated.
Now back to the point.
Now that you know approximately how many calories you need to sustain life, you have a baseline to go from in regards to actual calories you are consuming and how exercise impacts those calories.
How many calories are you actually consuming verses what you need
Assuming you’ve set a foundation of healthy eating and cleaning up your meals has already been done, we can take a look at how many calories you are actually consuming.
To do this, I would ask you to write down everything you consume, food and drink, over the course of 5 to 7 days and note as accurately as possible how many calories each is. Then total this up and divide it by the number of days you tracked to find your ACTUAL CALORIES CONSUMED number.
calories consumed/number of days = average actual calories consumed per day
Use the average actual calories consumed number and compare it to the calculated number from above.
Is it extremely high 500 or more calories? Or is it comparable?
If it’s extremely high, and you are trying to decrease your body size, then you need to think about your portion size and how much food you are eating for each of your five meals.
Decreasing portion size slightly at each meal, verses one large decrease at one meal or worse, skipping a meal altogether, is much more attainable and can be made into a behavioral lifestyle change.
Don’t forget to include beverages on this too! Drinks have a lot of hidden calories in them.
No let’s talk about how activity and exercise impacts your calories.
How active are you?
Exercise burns calories, and as I mentioned muscle burns calories, and exercise builds muscle, YAY!
And did you know that when you exercise, your body’s metabolism stays elevated for several hours after your workout and continues to burn calories at a higher rate? How awesome is that?!
So even though abs really are made in the kitchen, yay for exercise benefits too!
But that’s just it, exercise is in compliment with a healthy nutrient dense diet. (diet as in the foods you consume, not the slang word “diet” as in restricting foods)
So to estimate how many more calories you burn depending on your activity level, use the following to determine how many more calories you need. Take the following percentage times your original calculated number.
calculated calories x activity level = additional calories burned
Lightly Active: 30%
Moderately Active: 40%
Very Active: 50%
A couple of things to think about here.
- If you weren’t exercising before or if you were only lightly active and are looking to burn more calories, you can see how many more calories you would be burning by just increasing your activity level.
- If you are active and don’t want to increase your activity level, you now know how many additional calories are burned and you can monitor your calorie intake based on this. Again, consider portion size and the beverages you are drinking.
Using what we’ve talked about
The obvious is to cut calorie intake if you are trying to lose weight. And with this information, you could totally do that.
What I encourage you to do is consider all other perspectives and options first. This will help you make changes that are sustainable verses difficult to achieve and maintain over time.
Technically by decreasing your portion size or increasing your activity level, you are cutting calorie intake based on your needs. These changes will lead to decreasing your size and will be more of a long term healthy and sustainable transition. This leads to you keeping the results you desire to live your best life. Making all of that hard work pay off!
Need some additional help in really understanding the details or how you can make this work in your life? Still confused about it all?
Then let’s work together!
Let’s set up a call and talk about how I can help you!
I love putting my Personal Training knowledge to work and helping you find how to live your best, happiest life, for a lifetime!
No need for a call? Then I’d love for you to share in the comments below, your thoughts on this perspective!