How Many Calories Do I Really Need?

Congrats, You’ve taken the first step in your fitness journey and joined the gym! While a consistent exercise regime will keep you on the right track for health and wellness, you also need to make sure you are eating the correct foods in order to fuel your body properly. Grab a pen and paper, your going to need to do a little math. Here’s where you need to start.


In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit can be created by a combination of eating less food and exercising. The first step in planning your deficit is figuring out how many calories you need to fuel your body with daily. In order for your body to perform basic vital functions like breathing, pumping blood through your body, maintaining body temperature and basic brain and nerve activity – it needs fuel. This is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). If you did nothing all day and laid on the couch without moving, this BMR is the number of calories your body would need to sustain basic functions for the day.

There is a long formula that takes into account your gender, height, and weight to calculate your BMR called the Harris Benedict Equation, but you can calculate yours here quickly.


Once you have your BMR, we now need to take into account how active you are throughout the day. Find your activity level below.

  1. If you are sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
  2. If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : BMR x 1.375
  3. If you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) :BMR x 1.55
  4. If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
  5. If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.9

For example, if my BMR is 1400 and I exercise 5 days a week. I would take 1400 x 1.55= 2100. This 2100 is my Daily Caloric Intake Need, the number of calories I would need to consume to MAINTAIN my current weight at my current activity level.


The basis for our weight-loss calculation is that 1 pound can be lost by creating a 3500 calorie deficit through diet and exercise. For example, to lose 1 pound of body weight per week, you would need to create a 500 calorie deficit per day. That being said, the American College of Sports Medicine guidelines recommend that women should consume at least 1200 calories per day and men should consume at least 1800 calories per day.  Keep in mind that these two numbers are still drastically low and not easily maintainable for an active lifestyle. The easiest way to start calculating for weight-loss is to take 15-20% of your Daily Intake Need and use this number as your calorie goals per day.

For example, I would take my 2100 Daily Caloric Intake and multiply by 15%.
2100 x .15 = 315
2100 – 315 = 1785 Calories per day


Start with this amount of calories per day for two weeks. Log your food and exercise either in a journal or an app such as My Fitness Pal. It may seem time-consuming and a bit daunting to start, but this log will help you adjust or modify your exercise or food intake along your journey. If you are using an app such as My Fitness Pal, you may need to manually adjust your calories that are set for you to achieve each day.

Now that you have all this information spinning in your heard, don’t be afraid to call or text me for help on figuring all this information out!




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