Working Out Your Calories for Weight Loss

When it comes to serious dieting and amazing fat loss results, It is important to know how to work out your calorie intake. Whether they be calories for weight loss or for bodybuilding, you can use a fairly simple formula. I say this is fairly simple because even I can calculate it! 🙂

If you are serious about achieving your own goals, then the more ambitious that these goals are, the more useful this information will be to you.

I will assume that majority of the people who stumble upon this article will be mostly interested in working out their calories for weight loss, but I have also taken the privilege to include information that is needed to work out calories for building muscle and for general fitness.

This is a fairly long post and it came right out of my first book, Swap Fat 4 Fit (now out of print). So, grab yourself a black coffee (no sugar), or a green tea, or a beer (or two, if you haven’t started your dieting yet) and we will get started!

Oh, you may also want to keep a pen and notepad handy, too.


How to Work Out Your BMR


The first thing to look at, in our quest to find out our required calories for weight loss, is our BMR, which stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. Calculating our BMR will show us the amount of calories that are burned when we are at rest. We will need to do another calculation after this but I will explain later.

BMR is calculated using your gender, weight, height and age.


To work out your BMR if you are MALE: 

Measure your height in centimetres and multiply this by 6.25

Measure your weight in kilograms and multiply this by 9.99

Add the two results together, MINUS your age multiplied by 4.92, PLUS 5

The formula should look like this:

(MALE) BMR = (Height in CM x 6.25) + (Weight in KG x 9.99) – (Age x 4.92) + 5

 As females have a different genetic makeup, the calculation is slightly different; it looks like this:

(FEMALE) BMR = (Height in CM x 6.25) + (Weight in KG x 9.99) – (Age x 4.92) – 161

*Note that this is the same calculation bar the -161 opposed to +5 at the end of the formula. 

This calculation only gives you an estimate of your BMR, but it is a great base to work from.

Your Next Calculation (Harris-Benedict Equation)


So, we have already worked out how many calories we burn per day if we stay at rest. The next calculation when calculating for weight loss is determined by our activity level.

Little to No Exercise, daily calories needed = BMR x 1.2

Light Exercise (1–3 days per week), daily calories needed = BMR x 1.375

Moderate Exercise (3–5 days per week), daily calories needed = BMR x 1.55

Heavy Exercise (6–7 days per week), daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725

Very Heavy Exercise (twice per day, extra heavy workouts), daily calories needed = BMR x 1.9

This is called the Harris-Benedict Equation.

This guide will give you a figure showing how many calories you should start with. However, if you are very overweight, this will not be accurate as lean bodies will need more calories.

I would suggest that, if you do fall into the very overweight category, you use your BMR only (without adding the Harris-Benedict Equation) as your start point.

I will point out again that this is just an estimate; a base line for you to start with, if you will. You may find it spot on the first time. If that happens, then great!

However, you may find that after several weeks of keeping up with your new lifestyle changes, you still have not lost or gained. It is then time to add or subtract another 10%. The longer that you can persevere with your goals, the more valuable that this information will be to you.

Work Out Where Your Calories Come From


So, we now have our baseline amount of calories. But we need to break these down into a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins and minerals. This can be done in a few different ways, but this is the way that I have used in the past and it makes the most sense to me.

First off, we work out our protein; this should make up 25% of our diet.

Next, we work out how much fat we need; this should be around 10% of our total calories.

Then, we work out our carbohydrates. This should be 65% of our total calorie intake.

For example:

If your daily calorie intake is 2500 cals…

2500 x 0.25 = 625 calories from Protein

2500 x 0.65 = 1625 calories from Carbohydrates

2500 x 0.10 = 250 calories from Fat

Great! So, now we have our calories split down into the right amounts of nutrients. The best thing to do next is to find out how many grams we need of each. This is done as follows:

1 gram of protein = 4 calories

1 gram of carbohydrate = 4 calories

1 gram of fat = 9 calories

So, from the calculation above, we need…

625 divided by 4 = 157 grams of protein

1625 divided by 4 = 406 grams of carbohydrates

250 divided by 9 = 28 grams of fat

With this information, you can find out exactly what you need for a day’s worth of food and split it down into smaller meals. For best results, you should be eating around 5/6 times per day. This is explained in one of my other books, Your Metabolism: The Key to Losing Weight (Also out of print)

It may sound like a real pain, measuring out your food like this, but you only need to do this a few times and make a note of your portion sizes, and then it becomes very easy to keep up. It is best to put aside some time to get this sorted because, once it is done, you are absolutely good to go!

Using Myself As An Example

I will show you how this formula is working for me, using my own stats and goals. I am working for muscle building, so, if you are interested in calories for weight loss, don’t be shocked at the amount put out at the end of my equation because calories for weight loss will be a lot lower.

Okay, so my goals are muscle gain and I can eat 6 times per day. Now to work out my BMR, my stats are:

Height = 178cm
Weight = 95kg

BMR = (Height in CM 178 x 6.25) + (Weight in KG 95 x 9.99) – (Age 31 x 4.92) + 5 = 1914

Adding the Harris-Benedict equation;

Heavy Exercise (6–7 days per week), daily calories needed = BMR x 1.725

(BMR) 1914 x (Harris-Benedict) 1.725 = 3302

(Rounded up to nearest full calorie)

Now we need to break this down into nutrients;

3302 x 0.25 = 825.5 calories from Protein

3302 x 0.65 = 2146.3 calories from Carbohydrates

3302 x 0.10 = 330.2 calories from Fat

I hope this information has been useful to you. I would like to know your thoughts on these little tips I’ve shared, so, please, leave a comment. Don’t fail to contact me if there is anything else that I can help you with.

I will also point out that any calculation for food intake, calories for weight loss, muscle building or general health are just estimates and may need tweaking. This goes for online calculators that are becoming more popular these days, too.

There is a whole lot more information when you get started with my Home Workout Program Series. Check it out.

You may also find this article about sugar very interesting. Some information here that shocked me on first discovery.

For some great healthy snack ideas, have a look at this article.

All the best,


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