How Do I know How Many Calories I Need to Lose Weight? To Gain Weight? Or to Build Muscle While Losing Fat?
A lot goes into losing or gaining weight: caloric intake, caloric burn, timing of meals, stress level, composition of food, fitness, genetics, and more. Throw in your age and any health concerns, and defining the right number of calories to consume can seem an elusive target.
But there are some surprisingly easy-to-apply rules that can help you know, with a good degree of accuracy, how many calories you need to lose or gain weight. Here is a 14-day guide to optimize your calorie intake.
To lose weight, first start by multiplying your bodyweight by 10. That should be your starting daily calorie consumption. For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, your daily caloric intake for losing weight should be 1,500 calories.
We recommend a consistent and moderate or higher fitness regimen while working to comfortably lose weight. To ensure fortifying nutrition while you lose weight, supplement your daily meal plan with Nutrology BCAA Natural before your workout and a Nutrology Grass-Fed Whey Protein shake after your workout.
Build Muscle, Lose Fat
If you are looking to build lean muscle while losing weight, multiply your bodyweight by 13. That should be your starting daily calorie consumption. For the 150-pound person, that equates to 1,950 calories a day. Again, consume Natural BCAA Natural before your workout, and a Nutrology Grass-Fed Whey Protein Shake after your workout.
Avoid eating within an hour of bedtime, and ideally eat your last main meal of the day several hours prior to bed to optimize internal cleansing. Avoid simple carbohydrates.
Many individuals trying to gain weight are young athletes who are active and have trouble keeping weight on. There is a healthy and unhealthy way to add on some pounds. To start by adding healthy weight, multiply your bodyweight by 20. That should be your starting daily calorie consumption. For the 150-pound person, that equates to 3,000 calories a day.
The unhealthy way to gain weight would be to eat simple carbohydrates – ice cream, white bread, candy bars – right before bed. Bad, bad, bad. The high dose of simple carbs will head to “storage”, especially in the evening when the body’s metabolic rate slows. The sugars will be stored until the body can burn them off.
The better way is to eat lean protein, leafy greens, and Nutrology Grass-Fed Whey orTripact Protein Shakes (include some peanut or almond butter for added calories) after workouts, and post-dinner one hour or two before bed.
The Simple 14 Day Program
Check your weight. Also check your body fat levels, if you can. (Don't use those body fat scales, as they can be inconsistent and do not give you reliable data). Use a fitness professional to check your body fat with calipers or bod pods.
Once you know your weight and body fat levels, use them to get the following information:
- Body Fat Mass = Total weight X body fat % in a decimal (Example 200lb male with 20% body fat (40=200 x .20)
- Lean Muscle Mass = Total Weight - Body Fat Mass
- Write these numbers down, as we will revisit them after two weeks
After 14 days, check your weight and body fat again. (Do not check every day during the 14-day period.) Use the same formulas from Day 1 to get your Body Fat Mass and Lean Muscle Mass. Combine this information with any changes in your total body weight to get a clear picture of how your body is responding to the current caloric load.
You should begin to see movement in the desired direction. If so, continue this 14-day process until reaching your desired weight, adjusting your calorie intake if you want to accelerate your gain or loss. Always consult with your healthcare provider to understand a healthy pace of losing or gaining weight. Gaining or losing too quickly can have negative health implications.
Every 14 days, use your updated information to adjust your calories, up or down, if needed.
Wishing you success and healthy eating along your path to your ideal body weight!
Joanne Tull, former Fitness America, Fitness Canada and Fitness Universe finalist. Joanne is a Co-Founder of Nutrology, the naturally based sports nutrition company that has innovated clean label nutritional products used by thousands of athletes, including elites in the NFL, MLB, NHL and Professional Boxing. Having appeared on ESPN, Fox Sports and TSN after finishing a storied athletic career as a state champion, collegiate and national level gymnast, Joanne’s approach to nutrition is simple yet powerful.