How to Determine How Many Calories You Should Consume

Your diet, physical state, and metabolism are just some of the issues to consider when determining how many calories you should consume.
How to Determine How Many Calories You Should Consume

Last update: 06 September, 2018

One of the issues that most concerns athletes, is their daily consumption of calories. Maintaining a balance between the calories you consume and those that you burn in the gym, is key. This will help you to keep a stable weight and a good state of health. If you do not know how many calories you should consume, we will tell you how to find out.

How many calories does my body need?

Your body needs a number of calories just to exist. Depending on your age, gender, and weight, this number can vary. In order to calculate how many calories you need to consume, you need to know daily caloric requirement and your basal metabolism. This is the minimum number of calories required to keep your body functioning at rest.

Additionally, you will also need to take into account how much daily exercise you do in order to know if you need to consume more calories. To calculate basal metabolism, there are several techniques that you can use. 

You also have to take into account certain circumstances, such as the weather, stress levels, if you recently underwent surgery, or you have a fever, etc.

How to determine your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)

how many calories you should consume

One of the most recognized techniques used to calculate the number of daily calories you need, is the Harris-Benedict equation. You start out by determining your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). This will tell you how many calories your body needs in order to maintain your current weight.

The formula is as follows:

  • Female BMR: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
  • Male BMR: 66 + (6.2 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – 6.76 x age in years)

How to determine your basal metabolism

Once the above calculations are complete, you can determine what your basal metabolism is. For example, a 40 year-old woman who weighs 143 pounds and whose height is 170 cm will have a BMR of 1351. After obtaining this result, your daily exercise must be taken into account. You will multiply your BMR by a certain number, depending on your frequency of exercise. This is the rule:

  • No exercise and you work sitting down: BMR x 1.2
  • Light exercise two days a week: BMR x 1.375
  • Moderate exercise, about four days a week: BMR x 1.55
  • Regular exercise six days a week: BMR x 1.725
  • Elite athletes who train very hard every day: BMR x 1.9

With this simple equation, you can determine how many calories your body needs to consume in order to perform daily tasks while maintaining your current weight. Of course, you must also take into account the kind of work you do, since it is obviously not the same to work sitting down as it is to work as a bricklayer. But you can still estimate a very accurate approximation.

Therefore, if you want to lose weight, you should consume less calories than you need. You should never keep a diet that is below 1,200 calories because this is considered to be very dangerous.

food mobile applications

The best thing to do is to start by subtracting about 500 or 600 calories from what you need and, as you begin to adapt, you can subtract some more if you wish. The well-known diet of 1,500 calories usually works well and gives you everything you need to survive and stay healthy.

How can I control the amount of calories that I consume?

You will already know that by law, all foods must have nutrition labels on their packages to show the number of calories that they contain, per hundred grams. This will help you to determine how many calories you are consuming. But there are certain foods like vegetables, fruits, bread, and others that do not come in a package or have a label informing you of how many calories they contain.

There are charts and tables of calories on the Internet that you can consult, but the best and simplest thing to do is to download an app. There are certain apps with which you can keep a diary and write down everything that you eat and the app will keep count for you.

Food is one of the main things that any athlete should take care of. Knowing how to determine how many calories you should consume and how many you burn is vital to staying in shape and maintaining a healthy weight.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.