A calorie is a unit of energy that the body uses to function and perform daily activities. X Research Source Calories from the food you eat provide your body with energy. Each person’s daily caloric needs differ based on their age, height, weight, gender, lean body mass, and activity level. X Research Source When you know how to calculate your total daily calorie needs, you can design an eating plan that will help you meet your health goals.
Calculate your total calorie needs
Use an online calculator. You can calculate your total calorie needs with any of the available online calculators.
Doing so can be easier and less complicated than doing math equations on your own.
You can find various calculators on the websites of weight loss clinics, health clinics, and some medical associations. Make sure you choose a reputable website and don’t use calculators from blogs or other personal websites.
Most of these calculators work the same way. You enter your height, weight, gender, age and activity level. Have this information on hand to calculate your needs.
You can try online calculators from the Mayo Medical Center or the US Department of Agriculture’s tracking tool.
Calculate your basal metabolic rate or BMR through equations. Your BMR is the number of calories your body requires just to perform your daily life-support activities. This is the speed of your metabolism or the number of calories your body burns at rest.
Your body needs a certain number of calories just to survive and function normally. Anything that keeps your heart beating, breathing, or digesting food requires energy in the form of calories. This consumes as many calories as you burn on a daily basis.
The BMR equation for an average American woman is: (4.7 x height in inches) + (4.35 x weight in pounds) – (4.7 x age in years). Add 655 to this total to get the BMR.
The BMR equation for an average American male is: (12.7 x height in inches) + (6.23 x weight in pounds) – (6.8 x age in years). Add 66 to this total to get the BMR.
You are going to use BMR in the Harris Benedict equation to find out how many calories you burn, including activities.
Calculate your total energy expenditure using the Harris Benedict equation. The Harris Benedict Equation can help you estimate how many calories you burn daily by multiplying your BMR by your average activity level.
Multiply your BMR by your activity level. This will give you a fairly accurate number for your total daily caloric intake.
If you are sedentary (you do little or no exercise), multiply your BMR by 1.2.
If you’re somewhat active (exercising about 1-3 days a week), multiply your BMR by 1.375.
If you are moderately active (do moderate exercise or play sports 3-5 days a week), multiply your BMR by 1.55.
If you are very active (people who participate in strenuous sports or hard exercise 6-7 days a week), multiply your BMR by 1.725.
If you are extremely active (people who work or do very physically demanding exercises, like 2 workouts a day), multiply your BMR by 1.9.
Consider your body fat percentage. More muscular bodies or people with low body fat and plenty of lean muscle mass may need more daily calories than the average person.
If you’re an athlete or naturally have a lower body fat percentage, you may need more calories than online calculators or mathematical equations estimate.
Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat. Eating a little more can help you reach a more appropriate calorie goal.
You should also be aware that overweight or obese individuals may overestimate daily calories from the Harris Benedict formula.
Use the total calories you need to manage your health
Make an appointment with a registered dietitian. These nutrition experts will be able to give you more specific recommendations about your calorie needs. They will also tell you how to use your daily caloric needs to manage your health. It is very important that you meet with a nutritionist if you have health concerns or medical issues that need to be considered.
You may need to search for local dietitians online or ask your GP for a referral to a local dietitian. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has a “Find an Expert” section on their website to help you do this.
Many dietitians have different approaches. If you’re interested in a specific topic, like losing weight, eating for better athletic performance, or managing chronic disease, look for dietitians who focus on that specialty.
Use the total calories needed to lose weight. Many people want to find out how many calories they burn daily to lose weight. Adjust your recommended intake to reach your goal.
If you want to lose weight, it’s usually recommended to cut out around 500 calories a day to do it safely (0.45 to 0.9 kg or 1 to 2 pounds per week).
Cutting more calories is generally not recommended. If you don’t eat enough, your weight loss may slow down and you’ll be at very high risk due to nutrient deficiencies.
Add more calories to gain weight. If you and your doctor or nutritionist decide you need to gain weight, you might as well use your total daily calorie needs to do so.
Health professionals recommend consuming an additional 250 to 500 calories daily. This will cause you to gain about 1/2 to 1 pound (0.22 to 0.45 kg) of weight per week.
To maintain your weight, try to keep your calories within the range predicted by the calculations.
If you notice unwanted weight loss or gain, recheck your total caloric intake and adjust as needed.