How Many Calories Do We Really Need?

How many calories do you need? It’s a complicated equation if you ask me and I think that online calculators are far too generic to give everybody a reasonable answer. For example, I have a client who sits at around 12 stone and when he did his calculations he needed around 3,000 calories a day. This accounted for his training volume, weight and YET I KNOW if he consumes less than 4,500 calories a day he will lose weight. How is that so? Well, genetically he has that ‘’gift’’ which allows him to eat, eat and eat. And so the problem unfolds, how many calories do you really need?

The truth is the only way to be sure is to experiment. Sure, use a calculation as a starting reference and add or subtract from there depending on your goal and how you feel. Below are a few numbers I like to use for certain people and their goals.

Hard Gainers & Mass

Every week I get the same question on my live Q&A with – ‘’I am a skinny guy, I cannot gain weight. How many calories should I be consuming?’’ In simple terms a LOT is the answer. My personal calculations generally work between a threshold of 18-25 calories per pound of body weight in this scenario. Notice I didn’t say per ‘’lean pound of body weight.’’ Why? Well guys in this category tend to suck up calories easily and are generally very lean. With that said I don’t sweat the few extra calories in this instance.

Hard Losers & Fat Loss

Whilst the above question is frequently asked I also get the opposite end of the spectrum. ‘’I can’t lose fat around my waist, how many calories do I need?’’ This one is a little more complex, but sticking to the calorie aspect of the equation as it is relevant here are my thoughts. I generally work within the 10-13 calorie per pound of LEAN body weight parameters. For me I would in this instance remove a figure from my total weight which hypothetically meant I was 10% body fat and then use that weight as a starting point with the above formula for calorie intake. Again, from there play with it. What I will say is periodically I would go up to 14-15 calories per pound of lean body weight, maybe once every 7-21 days to spike the metabolism.

Calorie intake does count, absolutely. However it is often over simplified and I think there is a lot more to it than many people let on. Learn how your body works by experimenting and you will be far more informed going forward!

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