# Thread: Calculating Calories and Macronutrients

1. ## Calculating Calories and Macronutrients

Calories and Macro's

1. The following should be taken as general advice. Consult your physician before starting any diet or nutrition plan.
2. If you create a spreadsheet & post it I will DELETE THEM. The point is to THINK about what you need WITHOUT resorting to a pre-generated number!
3. IF YOU ARE < 18 YRS OF AGE THESE FORMULA WILL NOT BE ACCURATE (energy cost of growth, inefficient movement of youth & usually higher surface area:mass ratio). Look HERE for alternatives. Also - I would also STRONGLY suggest you don't OBSESS! Eat well, exercise regularly, and have fun. Being hyper focused on diet / training can create disordered eating & body image issues

Basic Terminology
1/ BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate): The amount of calories you need to consume to maintain if you were comatose (base level).
2/ NEAT (Non-Exercise Associated Thermogenesis): The calorie of daily activity that is NOT exercise (eg: washing, walking, talking, shopping, working). ie: INCIDENTAL EXERCISE! It is something that everyone has a good amount of control over.
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 burn 6000 cals)
4/ TEF (Thermic effect of feeding): The calorie expenditure associated with eating. 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 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, more carbs, and more fiber = HIGHER TEF. More FAT = LOWER TEF.
5/ TEE (Total Energy Expenditure): The total calories you require. It = sum of the above (BMR + NEAT + EAT + TEF).
To make things simple, NEAT + EAT + TEF is often just calculated through a daily ACTIVITY FACTOR.

How much do I Need?
A multitude of things impact MAINTENANCE calorie needs.
- Age & sex (males generally need > females)
- Total weight & lean mass (more lean mass = more needed)
- Physiological status (eg: sick or injured, pregnant, growth')
- Hormones
- 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 is Calorimetry [the measure of 'chemical reactions' in your body & the heat produced by these reactions], either directly (via 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). But these are completely impractical for most people & we rely on pre-set formula to calculate our needs.

Estimating Requirements
The simplest method uses a standard 'calories per unit weight (usually kgs)'. They calculate a TOTAL CAL REQUIREMENT (TEE). That means you DO NOT need to x by an ACTIVITY FACTOR. They are:
- 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 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]

THEN - There are also other formula which calculate BMR. For these you then ADD AN ACTIVITY FACTOR TO REACH TEE. These are:
1/ Harris-Benedict formula: Very inaccurate & derived from studies on LEAN, YOUNG, ACTIVE males in 1919. Notorious for OVERESTIMATING requirements, especially in the overweight. DON'T USE IT!
MEN: BMR = 66 + [13.7 x weight (kg)] + [5 x height (cm)] - [6.76 x age (years)]
WOMEN: BMR = 655 + [9.6 x weight (kg)] + [1.8 x height (cm)] - [4.7 x age (years)]

2/Mifflin-St Jeor: Developed in the 1990s and more realistic in todays settings. Still doesn't consider the differences as a consequence of high BF%. Thus it again OVERESTIMATES NEEDS, ESPECIALLY IN THE OVERWEIGHT.
MEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] + 5
WOMEN: BMR = [9.99 x weight (kg)] + [6.25 x height (cm)] - [4.92 x age (years)] -161

3/Katch-McArdle:Considered the most accurate for those who are relatively lean. Use if you have a good estimate of your bodyfat %.
BMR = 370 + (21.6 x LBM)Where LBM = [total weight (kg) x (100 - bodyfat %)]/100

Again - these are BMR calculations. To convert to a TOTAL requirement you need to multiply the result by an 'activity variable'.
This Activity Factor is the TOTAL cost of living, NOT JUST TRAINING. If you train 1 hr a day - CONSIDER WHAT YOU DO THE OTHER 23 HRS! It includes work, life activities, training/sport & the TEF of ~15% (an average mixed diet).
Average activity variables are:
1.2 = Sedentary (Desk job, and Little Formal Exercise)
1.3-1.4 = Lightly Active (Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week)
1.5-1.6 = Moderately Active (Moderately daily Activity & Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week)
1.7-1.8 = Very Active (Physically demanding lifestyle & Hard exercise 6-7 days a week)
1.9-2.2 = Extremely Active (Athlete in ENDURANCE training or VERY HARD physical job)

How Accurate are they?: Rough ball-park figures. Still 'guesstimations'. So use these as 'rough figures', monitor your weight/ measurements for 2-4 weeks. IF your weight is stable/ measurements are stable, you have likely found maintenance.

Using the Above to Recalculate Based on Goals
You then need to DECREASE or INCREASE intake based on your goals (eg: lose or gain mass). For this - DO NOT use a 'generic calorie amounts' (eg: 500 cals/ day) to add / remove. Instead calculate a % of your maintenance. Why? The effect of different calorie amounts is going to be different based on someones size/ total calorie intake. For example - subtracting 500 cals/ day from a 1500 total intake is 1/3rd of the total cals, where 500 cals/ day from 3000 total intake is only 1/6th of the total. The results will therefore be markedly different on an individuals energy level & weight loss. Generally:
- To LOSE weight: SUBTRACT 10-20% of the TEE to your TEE calories

Macronutrient Needs
Once you work out calorie needs, you then work out how much of each macronutrient you should aim for. This should NOT be based on a RATIO of macro intakes. (eg: '30:40:30 or 40:40:20') Your body doesn't CARE what % intake you have. It works based on SUFFICIENT QUANTITY per MASS.

1. Protein: Protein intake is a bit of a controversial issue in nutrition. The general recommendations given in the 'bodybuilding' area are nearly double the 'standard' recommendations given in the Sports Nutrition Arena.
So - GENERAL sports nutrition guideline based on clinical trials suggest that in the face of ADEQUATE calories and CARBS the following protein intakes are sufficient:
STRENGTH training -> 1.4 to 2g per KG bodyweight (about .6 / pound)
ENDURANCE training -> 1.2 to 1.8g per KG bodyweight (about .8 / pound)
ADOLESCENT in training -> 1.8 to 2.2g per KG bodyweight (about 1g / pound)
BUT this is 'sufficient' intakes for training. One should note that ADEQUATE v's OPTIMAL is not discussed when it comes to hypertrophy v's 'athlete performance'.
Researchers also acknowledge that protein becomes MORE important in the context of LOWER calorie intakes, or LOWER carb intakes.
Recent evidence also suggests that protein intakes of 2.2-3g/kg in lean athletes help with LEAN MASS RETENTION, and the physiological and psychological stressors associated with high volume or intense training.
Anecdotally, most find HIGHER protein intake better for satiety, partitioning, blood sugar control, and hypertrophy. So UNLESS you have medical reasons for lower protein, or unless guided by a sports nutritionist or physician I would suggest BODYBUILDING values.

General 'bodybuilding' guidelines:
- Moderate bodyfat, Moderate training load, moderate calorie = 2.0-2.5g per lean kg weight (about 0.9-1.2g per pound)
- Low bodyfat or Very Low Calorie, Low Carb, High training load = 2.2-3g per lean kg weight (1.0-1.3g per pound)
- High bodyfat, high calorie, Low training load = 1.6 to 2.2g per lean kg weight (.75-1g per pound)

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 health, satiety, and sanity. Additionally - any form of high intensity training will benefit from a 'fat buffer' in your diet - which controls free radical damage & inflammation. General guides:
Average or low bodyfat: 1-1.5g fat/ kg body weight [between 0.4-0.7g total weight/ pounds]. But up to 2g/kg might be needed.
High bodyfat: 1-1.5g fat/ Kg LEAN weight [between 0.4-0.7g LEAN weight/ pounds]. But up to 2g/ kg lean might be needed.
Low cal dieting: You can decrease further, but as a minimum, I would not suggest LESS than about 0.30g/ pound.
Note 1: Total fat intake is NOT the same as 'essential fats' (specific TYPES of fats that are INCLUDED in your total fat intake)...

3. Carbs: Carbs are important for athletes, ACTIVE individuals, & those trying to GAIN MASS. [carbs help with workout intensity, health, & satiety (+ sanity)]. THEY ARE NOT THE DEVIL. There are no specific 'requirements', so -
For 'general gymers'- find the calories left over from subtracting fats/ protein from your TEE:
remaining cals = Total cal needs - ([protein grams x 4] + [fat grams x 9])
grams carbs = (remaining cals)/ 4

BUT: If you are an athlete involved in high volume training I would suggest you CALCULATE a requirement for carbs to start with:
Moderately active: 4.5 - 6.5 g/ kg (about 2 - 3g/ pound)
High active: 6.5 - 8.5 g/ kg (about 3 - 4g/ pound)
INTENSE activity: + 8.5g / kg (more than 4g/ pound)
Then find your protein as above and use fats for remaining cals from your TEE:
remaining cals = Total cal needs - ([protein grams x 4] + [carb grams x 4])
grams fats = (remaining cals)/ 9

How do I count Calories accurately? *Check out Calorie Counting Websites
What are Macronutrients and Micronutrients? *Check out Macro & micronutrients explained!
Funky Bodyweight Tool Thread *Check Out Funky Tool

2. Where did the first thread go?: I deleted it. Why? Because I found it copied to other websites, without my permission, and with spreadsheets associated with it.

Over the last few days the mods / admin / site has been bombarded with requests to bring it back.... So I undeleted it and it can be found here (click me). I have created a new sticky for a new start.

I also ask you again to PLEASE respect my work and my requests that you do not copy or reprint it without my permission, nor create spreadsheets for distribution.

Thanks and good luck.

3. Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh
Where did the first thread go?: I deleted it. Why? Because I found it copied to other websites, without my permission, and with spreadsheets associated with it.

Over the last few days the mods / admin / site has been bombarded with requests to bring it back.... So I undeleted it and it can be found here (click me). I have created a new sticky for a new start but do ask you again to PLEASE respect my work and my requests that you do not copy or reprint it without my permission, nor create spreadsheets for distribution. Thanks.
Thanks for putting it back up! This thread is invaluable, and helped me to "see the light" Measly reps on recharge

4. Thank you, Emma-Leigh.

5. We need these types of threads on the forums. If their was no Emma Leigh, their would be nowhere to send "critique my diet" posters! Thank you Emma.

6. in on first page.....best sticky on the site

7. People will stop jumping off buildings now

8. Thanks for reposting this sticky.

9. Thanks for posting this again.
I have been referring people to your website: http://www.emma-leigh.com/basics_calorie_needs.html

10. Advertising space for rent :shifty:

Thanks for the info back :P

11. Thanks Emma

12. Great info and in after AA

13. Thanks for brining it back!

14. Still (IMO), hands down the most valuable article on the internet...

Serious.

15. Thank god this is back, I would be lost without it, thanks Emma.

16. Thanks Emma!!

17. I just started my first hard cut and followed your guide to the T! Was looking for something and Bam! gone.

Yay, not it is back!

18. Yay, it's back!

19. Originally Posted by squeak419
Still (IMO), hands down the most valuable article on the internet...

Serious.
Agreed thanks for putting it back you.

20. Thanks Emms

21. Thanks for your work, Emma. It's a shame that it was copied, I know how much it sucks to have your work stolen and reproduced without permission.

I agree, the information contained here is invaluable. Your thread is used here dozens of times a day in response to new threads, and I'm sure dozens of times more by those who don't post. Things got a little panicky in here when it disappeared.

22. Omg the Great Emma, Respect!!! Thanks for Posting this info again. helping lots of people with this. Including myself.

23. thank you Emma - it was because of your sticky that transformed me as you can see in my sponsored log in which i gave some before and after pictures.

24. Posting a link to this thread is fine though right? I point people to this sticky from other forums quite a bit.

25. Thanks to all for the support. Hissy-female-Mod-Tantrum over.

Originally Posted by Smancers
Posting a link to this thread is fine though right? I point people to this sticky from other forums quite a bit.
Absolutely. No worries with that at all.

26. Originally Posted by Emma-Leigh
Thanks to all for the support. Hissy-female-Mod-Tantrum over.

Absolutely. No worries with that at all.
Thank you Emma for putting this back up! Most valuable thread ever!

27. Hi Emma

I new to all this calorie counting. I did the math and ended up with 1739.8 calories left. What am I suppose to do with those remaining calories after calculating the rest (calculated my total requirement and minused protein requirement/carb requirement/fat requirement).

Did I do something wrong to have these many calories left over?

Here are my calculations so you can see if I've made any errors (I haven't included any other information about myself so that this doesn't classify as specific info for someone meeting my height/age/weight:

Calories needed : 2974
From Protein: 306
From Fat: 265.2
From Carbs: 663
Macro nutrients needed: 1234.2
Calories Left: 1739.8

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Ryan

28. Originally Posted by RyanLPainter
Hi Emma

I new to all this calorie counting. I did the math and ended up with 1739.8 calories left. What am I suppose to do with those remaining calories after calculating the rest (calculated my total requirement and minused protein requirement/carb requirement/fat requirement).

Did I do something wrong to have these many calories left over?

Here are my calculations so you can see if I've made any errors (I haven't included any other information about myself so that this doesn't classify as specific info for someone meeting my height/age/weight:

Calories needed : 2974
From Protein: 306
From Fat: 265.2
From Carbs: 663
Macro nutrients needed: 1234.2
Calories Left: 1739.8

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Ryan

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong (as I'm only a beginner too)

But the above Protein 306/ Fat 265 / Carb 663, are all in GRAM form, not in calorie form.

So the calories you need are "2974 calories", which is made up from eating "306g Protein", "265g Fat" and "663g Carbs".

Is that correct?

29. Originally Posted by RyanLPainter
Hi Emma

I new to all this calorie counting. I did the math and ended up with 1739.8 calories left. What am I suppose to do with those remaining calories after calculating the rest (calculated my total requirement and minused protein requirement/carb requirement/fat requirement).

Did I do something wrong to have these many calories left over?

Here are my calculations so you can see if I've made any errors (I haven't included any other information about myself so that this doesn't classify as specific info for someone meeting my height/age/weight:

Calories needed : 2974
From Protein: 306
From Fat: 265.2
From Carbs: 663
Macro nutrients needed: 1234.2
Calories Left: 1739.8

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it.

Ryan
I have no idea what you've done - run through the calculations here and we can see what went wrong.

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