How many calories should I eat to lose fat? What about to gain muscle?
Those are the two questions that I get a lot from people.
To get to where you want in terms of your physique it’s important to work hard on your diet and nutrition as much as you work hard at the gym. In fact, when it comes to losing fat or building muscle it’s 70% diet and 30% training. You can work out all you want for hours and hours, but if you don’t keep track of your calorie intake you won’t get the results you want.
Calculating Your Maintenance Calories
The first thing you need to do is to figure out your calorie maintenance.
This is the amount of calories you need to eat in order to maintain your current weight. To figure this out, multiply your weight by 14-15. So for someone who is 200 pounds, his maintenance would be around 2800-3000 calories. That might sound a lot, but you need to keep in mind that the more you weigh the more you have to eat. Your results will also differ depending on your activity level. To find the most accurate number for your maintenance, use this calorie calculator. Just input in your age, gender, weight, height, and exercise level to figure out your maintenance. Remember that even if it calculates it for you, it still isn’t perfect. Compare your results that you computed by hand (multiplying your weight by 16-17) and the one from the calorie calculator.
How Many Calories For Fat Loss?
Now that you know your maintenance calories, it’s time to figure out how much calories you need to consume in order to lose fat.
You need to be in a calorie deficit and it’s pretty easy to figure this out. A good starting point would be to subtract 500 to 700 calories from your maintenance. This is your maximum amount of calories you can consume in order for you to lose fat. Why isn’t it an absolute number? Simply because your activity level is always going to be different each and every day.
So if your maintenance was 2000 calories, you’d need to eat between 1300 to 1500 calories in order to lose fat. When someone uses the term “cutting”, this is what they are referring to. As long as you don’t go over the magic numbers you’ll lose about 1-2 pounds per week.
How Many Calories For Muscle Gain?
Gaining muscle requires you to be in a calorie surplus. It’s what most people call “bulking”.
In order to bulk, you have to ADD 500 to 700 calories to your maintenance. If you’re a hardgainer who can barely put on any weight, you might need to consume more than 500 calories. Again, that’s why it’s a range instead of an absolute number. Remember though to not eat too much unless you want to put on some unecessary fat.
The key thing to remember when it comes to your diet is to figure out your daily caloric intake to maintain your weight. From there, you can easily adjust your calorie intake depending on your goal. So for example:
200 pound man
Maintenance: 200 x 14-15 = 2800-3000 calories per day
Cutting: 2800 – 500 = 2300 calories per day
Bulking: 2800 + 500 = 3300 calories per day