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How To Calculate Your Daily Calorie Intake

By Rachael Attard, Updated Dec 18, 2020
how to calculate your daily calorie intake

”You cannot out-exercise a bad diet”. A golden rule in life and in fitness.

Eating the right amount of calories for your body is extremely important. Eating too much or too little can affect your fat loss results.

So, how do you calculate your ideal calorie intake?

How to know what is right for you and your body?

Below, I will show you formulas that work for calculating your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) & Total Energy Expenditure (TEE)

These are fancy terms for how many calories you need to just stay alive and how many if you’re remotely or moderately active/working out :) )

You can calculate both BMR & TEE to get your daily ideal calorie intake using the calculator below.

If you want to know more details read below my breakdown of formulas and more details about what BMR & TEE mean for you.

Note: Please remember that these formulas may not be exactly right for everyone but they are a pretty good indication.

Also, the formulas are for women only. There are different formulas for men.


What is BMR?

Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest.

Meaning if you lie in bed all day and do nothing, this is the number of calories your body will spend just to keep everything running properly.

BMR is also known as your body’s metabolism; meaning that any increase to your metabolic weight, such as exercise, will increase your BMR

BMR Formula

This formula is the revised Harris-Benedict equation. It can get a bit confusing, so stay with me!

The formula is: 447.593 + (9.247 x body weight (kg)) + (3.098 x height (cm)) – (4.33 x age in years)

My weight is around 52kgs, my height is 167cm and my age is 27 years. So here’s my example.

  • 447.593 + (9.247 x 52) + (3.098 x 167) – (4.33 x 27)
  • = 1329 calories

This means that if I were to lie in bed all day and do absolutely nothing, my body would use up 1329 calories per day.

Related post: Clean Eating Guidelines


What is TEE?

Total energy expenditure is the amount of energy that a person needs to carry out all physical functions (breathing, digesting food, exercising). 

Energy is measured in calories, and your total energy expenditure (TEE) is the number of calories you burn each day.

TEE Formula

Multiply your BMR by the TEE value below, based on your activity level.

Little to none1.2
Light (1-3 days)1.375
Moderate (3-5 days)1.55
Heavy (6-7 days)1.725
Very heavy (twice daily)1.9

I exercise 6 times per week for about an hour, but usually 2 of these sessions are low intensity cardio such as power walking.

I would considerate myself in the moderate range so I will multiply my BMR (1329) by 1.55.

Total Energy Expenditure = 1329 x 1.55 = 2060 calories.

This means that if I were to exercise 5 times per week, my body would burn 2060 calories per day.

muscle toning



Usually, for fat loss, you should be in a daily calorie deficit of around 200-500 calories.

A more severe calorie restriction will result in a more severe fat loss.

However, any form of dieting and calorie restriction will reduce your metabolic rate, so just keep that in mind (also remember that resistance training increases your metabolic rate).

I like to be at a 300 calorie deficit because I don’t get as hungry.

Therefore, my ideal calorie intake should be 2060 – 300 = 1760 calories.

But if I were to be at the 500 calorie deficit, my ideal calorie intake would be 2060 – 500 = 1560 calories.


If you are trying to maintain your weight, you would just stick to your total energy expenditure, which would be 2060 calories for me (which we worked out in step 2).


If you are trying to gain weight, you would want to eat more than 2060 calories.

I would also advise gaining weight in a slow and steady manner- so up your calories for 500 a day for gaining weight slowly.

I hope this makes sense and has answered your questions on how to calculate your daily calorie intake! xx

Picture of Rachael

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

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125 comments on “How To Calculate Your Daily Calorie Intake”

    Bernadine says:

    Hi Rachel !
    Firstly I Must commend you on your amazing toned body ! Well done
    Please can you tell me if you have
    Ever struggled with heavy thighs / legs ? What diet do you recommend if possible .. Thank you regards Bernadine

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out! I completely understand how you feel and I’ll do my best to help! :)

      If you’re struggling with muscular/heavy thighs and your goal is to slim down your legs, there are 3 steps you should follow – do the right type of cardio, do bodyweight resistance training, and adjust your diet for weight loss.
      In terms of diet, the right type should be tailored for your body type. If you don’t know yours yet, feel free to take Rachael’s Body Type Quiz.

      If you need more tips, feel free to email us at info@rachaelattard.com


    Michelle Blackmore says:

    I always get confused on my activity level. Currently I’m following the endomorph video course and I walk/power walk for an hour x6 days a week. So would I be light or moderate activity level?

    Bubs says:

    Hi Rachael!
    I’ve always had the issue that my thigs bulk up from sitting for long periods of times, from doing squats and generally are the thickest part of my body. It’s that and my back that seems to store all the weight. I’m an endomorph body type and I’d really like to lose the thickness from my thighs! I’ve started the gym but I don’t want to do exercises that could make them bigger! Are hip adduction and hip abduction machines a go or a no? I want to get into better shape! Any tips or advice?

      Sanja - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely! Thanks for reaching out! :)

      The hip abduction machine shouldn’t cause bulky muscle – but this will build muscle on the outside of your thighs. If you don’t want this, I would avoid using the machine. Also, I prefer doing hip abductors standing with the cable machine so you engage your core and more of your entire body.

      Also, here is a guideline that Rachael wrote for endomorphs that you will find useful <3

      I hope this helps, please let me know if you have any questions! xx


    Sue says:

    If I am 41 year old female, weigh 116 pounds and looking to lose about 8 pounds and slim down my thighs, what would my calorie intake and daily exercise look like) I am 116 pounds and 5’4 and 41. I exercise about 30 minutes a day by running or doing yoga but I do exercise 6 day’s a week. I also walk in addition to running and yoga everyday but my running is about 30 minutes.

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      I think I just responded to your email!:)

      Your calorie intake should be 1921 and eating at a slight deficit would go between 1712 and 1612!:)

      Here's a blog post where you can learn more about calorie intake and how to calculate it!:)

      Hope this helps!<3


    Cindy says:

    Hi Rachael thank you for your response! If I were to begin following the mesomorph guideline (5 power walks, 3 resistance training, 1-2hiit) should I start with calculating my calories and TEE from the light activity? Or should I begin from the moderator activity? I appreciate your help again and thank you for the support!

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      You can start with moderate activity!:)

      Please let me know if there's anything else I can help you with!:)


    Cindy says:

    Hiya! I am really in love with your blog! As a newbie, I’m really wanting to start this healthy journey. I noticed you said in the other post that we would notice muscle definition first before weight loss. So in that case if we do gain more pounds after a couple weeks, do we calculate our calories again to match the new weight? How often should I do this calculation if I do gain/lose pounds?

    Would you also be able to explain what a “light activity” means as well? I can’t tell where I fall in terms of activity level. I really appreciate you sharing your knowledge!

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely,

      It is so exciting that you are starting your fitness journey! :)

      This is not a must, it can happen. :)
      You can calculate your calorie intake now, and when you lose drastic amount of kgs you can do it again. :)
      You can calculate as often as you want, it’s just that the numbers won’t change much if your weight is different for only a few grams.

      If you work out for about 1-3 times per week then you are in the light activity group.


    Ella says:

    hi rachael!,
    i’ve calculated my calories and reduced my intake but i still haven’t lost weight. it’s been a month and i don’t know if i’m doing something wrong. is this normal and do i need to be patient?
    thanks <3

      Ana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hey lovely :)

      Are you working out or doing some cardio along? :)

      Make sure that you make at least 10 000 steps which is optimal for weight loss.
      You can do bodyweight resistance training for the fastest results.

      But have in mind that each body is different and it can’t take the same amount of time for everybody to lose weight.
      Stay patient and motivated! :)


    Vicky says:

    Omgoodness, yes, I meant so say fasted cardio of 10,000 steps 5 times a week and resistance training 3 times a week. So what is the difference between light activity and moderate activity? I want to be more cautious with my calories intake. Thank you once again :)

    Vicky says:

    Hi, I’m a mesomorph and I walk 10,000 steps 5 times a day (fasted cardio for 45-60 mins and run for only 5 mins as a beginner) and I do resistance training three times a day. For rainy days I can’t do power walks, I do the cardio video that you put up! What would my activity level be considered? Don’t know if it’s light or moderate. Thank you<3

      Sara - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely <3,

      Thanks for reaching out! :)

      I am assuming you wanted to say 5 times a week and resistance training 3 times a week? :)

      I would say this puts you in a moderate activity group! :)

      Please let me know if there's anything else I can help you with!:)