How to calculate your caloric requirement!

The key for a realisable and perfectly working diet is the caloric intake. But how do you know how many calories your body needs?

It is simple science
If you are expecting a high-grade intelectual ambitious and scientific article, you will get dissapointed. Nontheless every successful diet is based on a simple principle – thermodynamics (balance of energy in your body).

To put it in a nutshell:

I.) To loose bodyfat, there has to be a caloric deficit.

II.) If caloric intake and caloric consumption are equal, we sustain our body mass.

III.) If the caloric intake excels our consumption we gain weight.

How do I know what my body needs?

Step 1: Calculate your metabolic rate at rest

Calories are ranked first. Nothing works without them and there are various ways to calculate. We will use the Harris-Beneditc-formula in this example:


66,46 + (13,7*bodyweight in kg) + (5*height in cm) – (6,8*age in years)


655,1 + (9,6* bodyweight in kg) + (1,8* height in cm) – (4,7* age in years)

Now we have calculated the metabolic rate at rest and we know what our body needs when we stay in bed. To calculate the daily total metabolic rate we have to implement our activity level. Our total metabolic rate (TMR) is mainly influenced by our daily activities and the more active you are the bigger is the factor:

  1. Only sitting and laying: TMR*1,2
  2. Job with exclusively sitting activity and less physical activity: TMR*1,4-1,5
  3. Partially acvtive activity: TMR*1,6-1,7
  4. Mainly standing or walking aktivity: TMR*1,8-1,9
  5. Physical exhausting professional work: TMR*2,0-2,4

Now we habe the daily caloric requirement to know in which zone we have to move.

For all who dislike calculating and don’t have any interest in numbers, there are various websites which offer ready to use calculators. Just insert your numbers and you get the result in a second. However it is always good to have some background knowledge of this topic where is the data coming from.

Attention: This calculation is not a 100% exact and should be seen more as a guideline as every body is working differently and individual factors like metabolism etc. aren’t taken into consideration. This is why you should always experiment and pay attention how your body is reacting.

Step 2: Protein
Also here are several options to calculate your need, but in step 2 there are 2 g per kg bodyweight appropriate. If you are eating more protein the first time in your life, you should lower the amount in the beginning and increase it slowly during the first months to not stress your liver and kidneys unnecessarily.

1 g of protein has approximately 4 calories

Protein plays an important role in deficite as well as in expenditure and supports to keep/gain muscle mass. Maintain your protein constant to achieve sustained results.

Step 3: Carbohydrates (Carbs) and fats

The never ending discussion in the fitness industry, if carbs or fats are the enemies in a diet, won’t be settled in the near future and is strongly depeding from presonal preference and your own body. The truth however is, that neither nor are bad or good. Some athletes work with a low carb and high fat diet very effectively and the other way round.

How to set both macro nutrients is depending on several factors and to generalize it can be said:

1g of carbs has approximately 4 calories

1g of fat has approximately 9 calories

As an example we have a person with 85 kg bodyweight and a 2.200 daily caloric requirement:

  • 170 g proteins (680kal)
  • 245 g carbs (980kal)
  • 60 g  fat (540kal)

Roughly the macro breakdown of the calories for that day could look like this. However this could also be manipulated regarding your personal preference.

No matter if you use low carb, high fat or paleo, the daily requirement is always the same. The sticking point is to find your kind of diet which suits best into your daily life and your personal lifestyle.

Enjoy experimenting!

Written by: Benedict Polszter

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