Calculating your daily calorie needs will help you to reach your fitness goals. Your daily calorie needs are based on your Basal Metabolic Rate, or BMR, which represents how many calories your body needs to perform basic functions such as hair and nail growth.
BMR. Use this free online BMR calculator to figure out your daily calorie needs. Input your information such as age, height, weight and gender and then it will determine your daily calorie needs. For example, a 30-year-old male who stands 6’0″ and weighs 220 pounds has a BMR of 2,232 calories compared to a 25-year-old female who stands 5’5 and weighs 160 pounds will have a BMR of 1,896 calories.
Weight Loss. If your fitness goal is to lose weight, then you must create a calorie deficit either through diet, exercise or both. When you consume fewer calories then your body requires, you will force it to tap into stored fat or stored calories to reach its calorie requirement. This can also be achieved by burning off calories through exercise and forcing your body to mobilize fat cells to fuel your bodily functions. For example, if someone has a BMR of 1,600 calories and wants to lose one pound per week, they must create a daily deficit of 500 calories. There are 3,500 calories in one pound of fat, therefore, creating a 500 daily calorie deficit will lead to one pound of fat loss in a week.
Weight Gain. Those looking to gain quality weight need to create a calorie surplus in conjunction with regular exercise. For example, if someone requires 2,000 calories and they eat 2,500 calories per day, they will gain one pound per week. However, the trick is put on muscle and not fat. Building muscle is achieved by weight lifting 4 to 5 times per week and committing to a high protein diet. Also, you must constantly challenge your muscles in new ways by challenging it with a wide variety of stimuli. Performing new exercises, adding weight or increasing repetitions are examples of different training methods that will promote muscle growth. The combination of a healthy diet and regular strength training will ensure you add lean muscle mass to your body and avoid gaining body fat.
Weight Maintenance. To effectively maintain your weight, you must eat exactly or close to your daily calorie requirement. For instance, someone who requires 1,800 calories per day and consumes 1,800 calories on a daily basis will maintain their weight. This is ideal for those who have reached their target weight and want to stay there. Maintaining a healthy weight will help you fight off the diseases and heart conditions that are developed by excess body fat.
Calories Burned. In addition to tracking your calories consumed, you must also track your calories burned. Exercise, heavy lifting jobs or excessive walking should be calculated into your calories burned to track your total calorie consumption. For example, someone who requires 2,000 calories, burns 500 at work and eats 1,500 calories is actually giving their body 1,000 calories. A drastic calorie deficit or surplus could damage metabolism, hormones and mood over time. Be sure to fuel your body properly according to your activity level throughout the day. Those with a vigorous job such as a construction worker should compensate for their activity level with an extra 500 calories per day. Those with a sedentary lifestyle, such as someone who works behind a desk, are able to consume their BMR and get enough calories to give them energy throughout the day.