Calculate How Many Calories You Need to Eat

November 30, 2012 | Brian Lebo

Must See Nutrition Videos

At some point during your athletic career or personal life, it's likely you will want a strategy to lose, maintain or gain weight. It may seem overwhelmingly complicated to determine what you need to do to achieve your goal, but it's actually quite simple. (Learn 10 nutrition rules to live by.)

Although it is an important component, strength training alone does not constitute a weight management strategy. Same goes for cardio. The key is how much food you eat. You can work out all you want to gain muscle or trim fat, but you will fail to achieve your weight goal if you are off your mark on the number of calories you consume.

Generally, in order to gain weight, you have to ingest more calories than you burn over time. (Gain weight the healthy way.) The opposite is true if you want to lose weight—you have to burn more calories than you ingest over time. However, once you throw physical activity into the mix, you have to adjust your caloric intake to account for the calories burned during exercise.

A Simple but Effective Formula

Here's a simple formula I learned several years ago for calculating the number of calories you need per day. Despite its simplicity, it's actually fairly accurate.

Target Weight (TW) x (10 + number of hours of moderate/vigorous physical activity per week) = Calories per day

Let's say your target weight is 150 pounds and you exercise five hours per week. When you plug the numbers into the equation, you get 2,250 calories per day. Whether you want to lose, maintain or gain weight, this formula should work for you.

Obviously, lots of other factors can affect your body composition and performance, but that's a discussion for another article. For now, use my simple equation to get an estimate of how many calories you need to eat each day to lose, maintain or gain weight.

Learn more ways you can burn fat.

 

Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Brian Lebo
- Brian Lebo is the owner and director of Athletic Performance Training Center, a strength and conditioning facility in North Royalton, Ohio. He specializes in helping...
Must See
Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes Abby Wambach Will Do Whatever It Takes
Views: 6,012,696
Dashon Goldson: Dashon Goldson: "You Just Gotta Have Heart"
Views: 6,376,657
Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion Michael Jordan: Mind of a Champion
Views: 548,329

Featured Videos

Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Kevin Love's In-Season Basketball Workout Views: 1,018,026
A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce A Day in the Life With Kansas City Chiefs Tight End Travis Kelce Views: 15,983
Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Path to the Pros 2015: Shaq Thompson Views: 70,834
Load More

Resources

STACK Fitness

Everything you need to be fitter than ever

STACK Conditioning

Sport-specific conditioning programs

Coaches and Trainers

Tips and advice for coaches and trainers

Magazine

Latest issues of STACK Magazine

STACK 4W

Women's sports workout, nutrition and lifestyle advice

Gamer

Gaming, entertainment and tech news

Basic Training

Military-style training for athletes

News

Find the latest news relevant to athletes

Most Popular Videos

Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall Two-Ball Dribbling Drill With John Wall
Views: 3,362,770
Paul Rabil's Box Jumps Paul Rabil's Box Jumps
Views: 851,480
Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift Roy Hibbert 540 lbs Deadlift
Views: 1,577,083
Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles Dribbling Drills for Tighter Handles
Views: 4,333,163
Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill Ohio State Football Open Field Plyo Drill
Views: 9,499,164

Load More
More Cool Stuff You'll Like
The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

The Grain Guide: How and Why to Use 8 Healthy Whole Grains

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

Small Change, Big Difference: 5 Foods You Should Buy Organic

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

Why You Should Say No to Diet Foods

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

Cookout Commandments: What to Eat (and Avoid) at Your Summer BBQ

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

Healthy Eating at Restaurants: Decoding a Diner Menu

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

6 Healthy Foods You're Overeating

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

5 Simple Food Swaps That Make Eating Out Healthier

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

10 Athlete-Approved High-Protein Cereals

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

The Boston Cannons' Keep It Real Eating Plan

The Boston Cannons'

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

How Marc Gasol Got Better by Overhauling His Diet

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

YardBarker