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How To Calculate Your Daily Calorie Intake

how to calculate your daily calorie intake

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? This is how to work it all out!

Please remember that these formulas may not work for everyone but they are a pretty good indication. Also, the formulas are for females only. There are different formulas for males.

STEP 1: CALCULATE YOUR BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)

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

STEP 2: CALCULATE YOUR TOTAL ENERGY EXPENDITURE (TEE)

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

STEP 3: CALCULATE YOUR IDEAL CALORIE INTAKE

FAT LOSS

Usually for fat loss, you should be in a 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.

MAINTENANCE

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).

WEIGHT GAIN

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

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.

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

    Tanya says:

    I am curious why you personally eat a 300 calorie deficit. I assume you are not trying to lose weight, but are aiming to maintain your current body composition. Is the deficit to keep from putting on too much muscle? Or is it necessary to maintain a low body fat percentage? I guess my underlying question is what will happen if a woman who has a healthy (but lower) BMI and is moderately active eats her maintenance amount of calories rather than a small deficit? Will she put on fat or muscle rather than maintain her current body composition?

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      Rachael was just giving an example – if she wanted to lose body fat, she would be at a slight calorie deficit.:)

      If you have a healthy but lower BMI, I would suggest that you eat your maintenance amount of calories and not at a calorie deficit :)

      If you eat to maintain your weight and combine cardio with bodyweight resistance training, you will build lean muscle.

      If you have any questions, feel free to ask!xx

      Love,
      Marina

    Allison says:

    Replying to Marina. Thank you for your help, Marina. 1700-1900 sounds much more realistic. A few years ago I was eating around 1340 calories per day and very low fat and I went down to 140 and almost broke back under that weight. Then, one day we spent hours shoveling snow and I got really hungry, ate a bacon cheeseburger and french fries after that. In one day my weight rose back to 142 and began to steadily climb no matter what I did until it’s where it is now at 156-157. I think the reduced calorie eating I’m getting a stationary bike which I hope to ride every day 20-30 minutes because I’m not getting enough exercise but if I do HIIT or weights, I build up muscle very quickly. The whole thing has been very frustrating. Eating low fat has always helped me lose weight but I start to feel depressed as well and then my metabolism yo yo’s. Do you think that if I eat 1700-1900 calories a day and do the exercise bike I really have a chance to lose the weight/fat?

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      I’m so sorry for my late reply, lovely! I didn’t get a notification :(

      Do you perhaps know your body type? Some body types can build muscles from spinning. I think if you stay at a slight calorie deficit – 200-300 calories, you won’t get as hungry. That will prevent you from binge eating and you won’t feel like you’re restricting yourself too much.:)

      I would advise you to do more power walking if you can! Would you be able to do around 10 000 steps per day 4-5 times per week? :) And don’t forget about resistance training – it will help you get toned and raise your metabolism.

      You can also check out Rachael’s program – it includes cardio, resistance training, and a complete meal plan all tailored to your specific body type :) If you’re interested, you can find out more about it here

      And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to ask! xx

      Love,
      Marina

    Allison says:

    Hello – I did my calculations and ended up with a daily caloric intake of roughly 2500 cal per day. This sounds very high. I’m 50 years old, 5’6″. I currently weigh around 156 pounds and do a brisk half hour walk 3-4 times per week. Does this sound correct as far as how many calories I should take in per day to lose fat? thanks!

      Marina - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      I checked that for you! Your BMR is 1417 and your TEE is 2197. So in order to lose weight, you need to be at a slight calorie deficit (300-500 calories). That means you should eat around 1700-1900 calories to lose weight. Let me know if you have any other questions! xx

      Love,
      Marina

    Lisa says:

    Does your calorie intake change if you are hypothyroid ( I don’t have a thyroid but they are still have a hard time controlling it)?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      No, you should still refer to your ideal calorie intake regardless of hormonal imbalances. We recommend finding a good naturopath or an integrative doctor who will help you with treatment. All the best! xx

      Love,
      Diana

    Aliona says:

    Hello! What about fasting days (500 Cal) and Carb Cycling? Is it good or bad for metabolism?

      Diana - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,
      That’s a very severe calorie restriction, so we wouldn’t recommend it as it can damage your metabolism in the long run.
      Carb cycling should be fine as long as you don’t eat below 1200 calories, which is the absolute minimum for a healthy weight loss.
      A healthy diet that includes low carb days should kickstart fat loss. However, carb cycling is designed for short-term use. It is not a long-term solution for body fat management.

      Love,
      Diana
      xx

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