When was the last time you tried to start a diet? Where did you start? Did you open your laptop and search “How Many Calories Should I Eat?” You did, didn’t you?
If you’re like most bros out there, you probably found a program and went through it. It may be a diet program, a training program with a meal plan, or something similar.
No matter what it was, if the goal was weight loss it managed to make you eat less somehow.
In reality, all diet programs boil down to helping you remove calories from your diet. Paleo, low carb, low fat, vegan, intermittent fasting, and any other diet is really just calorie restriction packaged in a pretty little formula to sell some diet book.
What if you don’t want to follow any of these new fangled diets though? What if you just want to know how much you should be eating each day, and then develop your own plan around that?
Surprisingly there isn’t a wealth of information on this very topic online. It’s not near as sexy as some new diet, and for most part was widely ignored until the #iifym community started really gaining popularity.
Fret no more though, bros. I’ve got your back. I’ll deliver the exact info you need to learn just how much you should be eating day in and day out.
First, a little vocab lesson:
There exists something known as the Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR. This is your baseline metabolism. It’s how many calories a day you burn to maintain life. The energy you expend to keep alive is a surprisingly high amount.
Anywhere from 1,500-2,000 for the average bro out there keepin it real in the streets.
Why do you need to know that?
Because to figure out how many calories a day you’re eating we’re going to use something known as the Katch-McArdle formula. The Katch-McArdle formula is one of the best out there, because it actually takes into account body fat percentage to determine your BMR.
Using body fat percentage is important when finding this number, because obviously muscle is more metabolically active than fat. If you’ve got 20lbs of muscle you’re going to burn more calories maintaining life than if you compare that to 20lbs of fat.
To get your BMR, you’ll go here and enter your stats. If you don’t know your body fat percentage then I suggest you head over here to check out some pretty useful pictures as a guide.
Remember, BMR is only the amount of calories you burn each day to maintain life. You can’t live on that amount alone for a very long time. You burn calories through a few other methods as well.
The two most common ones are:
- TEF, or thermic of feeding, or calories burned by eating and digesting foods.
- NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis, is burning calories by walking, fidgeting, moving around the house, etc.
All together each of these factors adds about 20% total to your BMR.
For example, say you’ve got a BMR of 2,000 calories. You burn 2,000 calories every single day just maintaining life. Add on 20% to that to account for TEF and NEAT, and you’ve got a baseline of 2,400 calories.
In order to maintain your current state, you need to be eating 2,400 calories every single day. If you want to gain size, you need to eat a bit more. If you want to drop fat, you need to eat a little less.
What about exercise?
Factoring in calories burned during exercise is usually a terrible idea when it comes to determining how many calories a day you should be eating. Why? Because it’s pretty freaking difficult to get that number right.
Pedometers, smart watches, cardio machines, and heart rate monitors are notoriously error prone when estimating the number of calories you burned during an exercise session. Some even have a margin of error as much as 40-50%.