This should serve as a guide when setting up your Meal Plan/Diet whether your goal is to LOSE, GAIN or just MAINTAIN your current weight.
Everything you need to know is here. All you have to do is READ, UNDERSTAND and know some BASIC Math.
Calculating Calories and Macro's
1/ BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): This is the amount of calories you need to consume to maintain your body if you were comatose (base level)....
2/ NEAT (Non-Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie requirements added by your daily activity that is NOT exercise (eg: washing, walking, talking, shopping, working). This is generally the most marked variable in a persons daily calorie requirements and something that everyone has a good amount of control over. This is what people term INCIDENTAL EXERCISE. It is also what helps keep 'constitutionally lean' people LEAN (they fidget)!
3/ EAT (Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie requirements associated with planned exercise.... Unless someone is doing a whole heap of exercise (eg: two or more hrs training a day) it usually doesn't add a stack of calories to your requirements (30 minutes of 'elliptical training isn't going to do it')
4/ TEF (Thermogenic effect of feeding): The calorie expenditure associated with eating.... REGARDLESS of what myths you have been told - this is NOT dependent on MEAL FREQUENCY. It is a % of TOTAL CALORIES CONSUMED (and 15% of 3 x 600 cal meals is the same as 15% of 6 x 300 cal meals). It varies according to MACRONUTRIENT content and FIBER content... For most mixed diets, it is something around 15%.... Protein is higher (up to 25%), carbs are variable (between 5-25%), and fats are low (usually less than 5%). So ->> More protein and more carbs and more fiber = HIGHER TEF. More FAT = LOWER TEF.
5/ TEE (Total Energy Expenditure): The total calories you require - and the sum of the above (BMR + NEAT + EAT + TEF).
How much do you need?
There is therefore a multitude of things that impact a persons MAINTENANCE calorie requirements
- Age and sex (males generally need > females for any given age)
- Total weight and lean mass (more lean mass = more needed)
- Physiological status (eg: sick or injured, pregnant, growth and 'enhancement')
- Hormones (eg: thyroid hormone levels, growth hormone levels)
- Exercise level (more activity = more needed)
- Daily activity level (more activity = more needed)
- Diet (that is - macronutrient intake)
In order to calculate your requirements the most accurate measure would be via Calorimetry [the measure of 'chemical reactions' in your body and the heat produced by these reactions], either directly (via placing a calorimeter where the heat you produce is measured) or indirectly (eg: HOOD studies where they monitor how much oxygen you use/ carbon dioxide and nitrogen you excrete over a given time). Although accurate - this is completely impractical for most people. So we mostly rely on pre-set formula to try to calculate our needs.
The simplest method of estimating needs is to base your intake on a standard 'calories per unit of weight (usually kilograms)'. Typically:
- 26 to 30 kcals/kg/day for normal, healthy individuals with sedentary lifestyles doing little physical activity [12.0-14 kcal/pound]
- 31 to 37 kcal/kg/day for those involved in light to moderate activity 3-5 x a week with moderately active lifestyles [14-16 kcal/ pound]
- 38 to 40 kcals/kg/day for those involved in vigorous activity and highly active jobs [16-18 kcal/ pound].
For those involved in HEAVY training (eg: athletes) - the demand is even greater:
- 41 to 50 kcals/kg/day for those involved in moderate to heavy training (for example: 15-20 hrs/ week training) [18.5-22 kcal/ pound]
- 50 or above kcals/kg/day for those involved in heavy to extreme training [> 22 kcal/ pound]
There are, however, a number of more complex formula which calculate a baseline BMR, which you multiply by an 'activity variable' to give TEE.
1/ Harris-Benedict formula:
Particularly inaccurate & derived from studies on LEAN, YOUNG, ACTIVE males in a COLD lab MANY YEARS AGO (1919). Notorious for OVERESTIMATING requirements, especially in the overweight. IF YOU CAN AVOID IT, DON'T USE IT!
For MEN: BMR = 66 + [13.7 x weight (kg)] + [5 x height (cm)] - [6.76 x age (years)]
For WOMEN: BMR = 655 + [9.6 x weight (kg)] + [1.8 x height (cm)] - [4.7 x age (years)]
Developed in the 1990s and more realistic in todays settings, but it still doesn't take into consideration the differences as a consequence of high BF%. Thus, once again, it OVERESTIMATES NEEDS, ESPECIALLY IN THE OVERWEIGHT.
For MEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] + 5
For WOMEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] -161
Considered the most accurate formula for those who are relatively lean. Use ONLY if you have a good estimate of your bodyfat %.
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM)
Where LBM = [total weight (kg) x (100 - bodyfat %)]/100
What is an Activity Factor?
Essentially, this is the COST OF LIVING. THIS IS BASED ON MORE THAN JUST YOUR TRAINING (include work/lifestyle, gym/ sport & a TEF of ~ 15% - ie: an average mixed diet). And unless you are an ATHLETE your job/ lifestyle is MORE important than the gym sessions you do! So to convert BMR a TOTAL requirement you multiply the result by:
1.2 = Sedentary (Little or no exercise and desk job)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Little daily activity & light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately active daily life & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.0 = Extremely Active (Hard daily exercise or sports and physical job)
How Accurate are they?
Although these (sometimes) give rough ball-park figures, they are still 'guesstimations'. Most people still OVERESTIMATE activity, and UNDERESTIMATE bodyfat & end up eating TOO MUCH. So - use these as 'rough figures' and monitor your weight/ measurements for 2-4 weeks. IF your weight is stable/ measurements are stable, then you have likely found maintenance.
Using the Above to Recalculate Based on Goals
You will need to DECREASE or INCREASE intake based on your goals (eg: lose or gain mass). And instead of using 'generic calorie amounts' (eg: 500 cals/ day), this is calculated on a % of your maintenance. Why? The effect of a given calorie amount on an individual is going to be markedly different based on their size/ total calorie intake. For example - subtracting 500 cals/ day from a 115# females 1500 total intake is 1/3rd of her total cals but 500 cals/ day for a 215# male on 3500 total intake is only 1/6th of their total... And it will result in markedly different effects on their energy levels and weight loss. Generally:
- to ADD weight: ADD 10-20% calories to your total from above
- to LOSE weight: SUBTRACT 10-20% calories from your total from above
Then monitor your results and adjust as required.
NOTE: IF YOU ARE LESS THAN 18 YRS OF AGE - THESE FORMULA WILL NOT BE ACCURATE!
There is an energy cost associated with growth / inefficient movement / high surface area:mass ratio. Look HERE for alternatives.
As a teenager I would also STRONGLY suggest you don't obsess on calories and macros! Eat well, exercise regularly, and have fun while you can!
Once you work out the above, you can work out how much of each macronutrient you should aim for. This should NOT be based on a generic RATIO of total calorie intake such as '30:40:30 or 40:40:20
Your body doesn't CARE what % intake you have for macronutrients. It works in terms of SUFFICIENT QUANTITY per LEAN MASS or TOTAL MASS. This is one of the areas that is MOST often confused - so to try to make it as simple as possible:
1. Protein: Believe it or not - Protein intake is a bit of a controversial issue. In this, the general recommendations given in the 'bodybuilding' area are nearly double the 'standard' recommendations given in the Sports Nutrition Arena. And to run through BOTH areas......
GENERAL sports nutrition /most studies out suggest that in the face of ADEQUATE calories and CARBS then the following protein intakes are sufficient:
STRENGTH training -> 1.2 to 1.6g per KG bodyweight (about .6 / pound)
ENDURANCE training -> 1.4 to 1.8g per KG bodyweight (about .8 / pound)
ADOLESCENT in training -> 1.8 to 2.2g per KG bodyweight (about 1g / pound)
BUT they also acknowledge that protein becomes MORE important in the context of LOWER calorie intakes, or LOWER carb intakes.
Some general 'bodybuilding' guidelines would be as follows:
- If bodyfat UNKNOWN but AVERAGE = 1-1.25g per pound TOTAL weight
- If bodyfat KNOWN = 1.25-1.5g per pound LEAN weight
If you are VERY LEAN or if you are on a LOW TOTAL CALORIE INTAKE then protein becomes more important - so:
- Average bodyfat, lower calorie intake = 1.25-1.5 per pound total mass
- Bodyfat known, lower calorie intake = 1.33-2 per pounds lean mass
If you are VERY OVERWEIGHT, VERY INACTIVE, and NOT on a lower calorie diet then you can decrease slightly BELOW the above levels:
- overweight or high calorie intake = ~ 1 x LEAN mass to 0.8-1 x total weight in pounds
Anecdotally, most find the HIGHER protein intake better for satiety, partitioning, and blood sugar control. So UNLESS you are specifically guided to use the GENERAL sports nutrition guidelines, I would suggest the BODYBUILDING values.
2. Fats: Generally speaking, although the body can get away with short periods of very low fat, in the long run your body NEEDS fat to maintain general health, satiety, and sanity. Additionally - any form of high intensity training will benefit from a 'fat buffer' in your diet - which acts to control free radical damage and inflammation.
Average or lean: 1 - 2g fat/ kg body weight [between 0.45 - 1g total weight/ pounds]
High bodyfat: 1-2g fat/ LEAN weight [between 0.45 - 1g LEAN weight/ pounds]
IF low calorie dieting - you can decrease further, but as a minimum, I would not suggest LESS than about 0.35g/ pound.
Note 1: Total fat intake is NOT the same as 'essential fats' (essential fats are specific TYPES of fats that are INCLUDED in your total fat intake)...
3. Carbs: VERY important for athletes, HIGHLY ACTIVE individuals, or those trying to GAIN MASS - Carbs help with workout intensity, health, and satiety (and sanity). But there are no specific 'requirements' for your body. Carbs are basically used by most as 'the extra stuff'.
For 'general folk' to calculate your carbs you just calculate it from the calories left over from fats/ protein:
carb calories = Total calorie needs - ([protein grams as above x 4] + [fat grams as above x 9])]
carbs in grams = above total/ 4
If you are an athlete - I would actually suggest you CALCULATE a requirement for these as a PRIORITY - then go back and calculate protein / fat:
moderately active: 4.5 - 6.5 g/ kg (about 2 - 3g/ pound)
highly active: 6.5 - 9 g/ kg (about 3 - 4g/ pound)
How do I count Calories accurately?
A Few of the Calorie counting Sites:
Most accurate/ detailed, Lots of natural foods
Lots of information on commercial products
Good basic and accurate tool that allows you to create favourite meals for ease of logging. Tracks exercise and water intake too
Easy to use, Accurate, Good range of foods, Very funky additional applications such as bar-code scanning
This has a cool recipe tool where you simply type in a list of foods and how many servings you want and it calculates it out. < VERY handy!
Inaccurate in regards to calories from carbs/ fibre and can give false information on servings sizes... Ok if you log all your own foods
My Calorie Counter
Taken from BB.com Nutrition forum.