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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.

STEP 1: CALCULATE YOUR BASAL METABOLIC RATE (BMR)

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

STEP 2: CALCULATE YOUR TOTAL ENERGY EXPENDITURE (TEE)

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

STEP 3: CALCULATE YOUR IDEAL CALORIE INTAKE

HOW MANY CALORIES I NEED IF I WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT?

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.

HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU NEED TO MAINTAIN WEIGHT?

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).

HOW MANY CALORIES DO YOU NEED FOR WEIGHT GAIN ?

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

    Sabine says:

    Hi !!
    Thank you answer ! It’s really helping :)
    Some weeks, I don’t have a lot of time, so I use to skip resistance training … :S
    If I do only the 10 000 steps a days, should I choose “ligth” or stay in “moderate” activity level when calculating my ideal daily calories intake ?
    Have a lovely day, and thank you again !

      Len - Lean Legs Support says:

      Hi lovely,

      Thanks for reaching out!

      If 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. Removing one from your routine won’t help you achieve your goals faster so we still encourage that you incorporate light-resistance workouts in your routine and focus more on nutrition.

      In the meantime, if you could only focus on power walking then you can choose ‘light’ as your activity level.

      I hope that helps. If you have more questions, feel free to email us at info@rcahaelattard.com

      Love,
      Len