After receiving numerous questions in regards to calculating your daily calorie intake, hopefully this step by step guide will answer most of your questions.
Of course, it’s easy to fall into the trap of reading a fitness article containing misleading information; where the author will look good but is not necessarily qualified to issue nutritional advice. This can lead to the wrong education in terms of diet, supplements, calories, nutrition etc. The truth is, every person responds differently. It takes years to master how your body responds to different foods – but don’t worry, this article is not to dishearten you, hopefully it will save you a lot of time and frustration.
You will find that most resources will target a cisgendered majority, which can be confusing for a Trans individual. Without a doubt, this can be incredibly frustrating (I’ve been in that limbo myself) and will prompt questions such as “What advice should I follow?” or “What gender category do I fall into?”
I cannot stress this enough with all of my clients, nutrition is the fundamental piece of the puzzle, whether you’re bulking, cutting or maintaining weight – your calorie intake accounts for 70% of your goals.
There are various ways to calculate your daily calorie intake, some are more complex than others. You can save some time and a potentially boring read by looking at my first blog on Nutrition Tools where there are a few calculators to help you make a start.
Male or Female?
If you’re still reading this then we will begin by first determining whether or not you should “categorise” yourself as Male or Female in regards to the formula. This sounds awfully cringeworthy and surely will cause some dysphoria for my Pre-T brothers. I mean no disrespect nor offence, but for health and safety reasons – this is simply a guide to help you.
If you’re a Pre-T, I would strongly suggest following the formula as a “Female” – I put this out there because a miscalculation could cause you to lose or gain weight too quickly – which will mostly consist of body fat since individuals with testosterone naturally have a higher metabolism. Inevitably, substantial weight gain can lead to unwanted hip and waist accentuations, which we certainly don’t want. Another important point is that my endocrinologist explained that obesity can hinder your eligibility to begin T as you will be at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease etc. So it is a essential at this stage, if you’re Pre-T, that you follow the formula according to your birth gender. We both know you’re not really 😉 If you have any concerns, I recommend consulting with your Doctor.
If you’ve been on T for a while and your blood work shows consistency with your testosterone levels, then please refer to the “Male” formula. I personally categorise myself as male due to the increase in metabolism and the amount of calories I burn during resting state. The endocrine system (regulation of hormones) reacts differently which contributes to the changes in fat storage, metabolism, muscle mass etc.
To manually calculate your daily intake – we will break it down step by step. There are four key factors to determining:
1/ Height – measure in metres (m)
2/ Weight – measure in kilograms (kg)
4/ Activity Level – extremely active, very active, moderately active, lightly active, inactive/sedentary
Calculate your BMI by using the following equation:
BMI = weight (kg) / height (m) x height (m)
Use your BMI score in accordance with this chart. This is simply a guide to determine your health status and classification of disease risk. Please take into consideration that this chart is targeted for the average population therefore, this will be incredibly inaccurate and will not apply to a bodybuilder or an athlete.
Key Point: Muscle is denser than body fat so naturally, the more muscle you build, the more your weight will increase.
Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) = Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
BMR is the amount of energy required to maintain bodily functions at rest. To work this out, use the equation that applies to you:
Physical Activity Factor (PAF)
Next, multiply your BMR findings by the Physical Activity Factor that applies to you and your lifestyle:
Sedentary people of both genders | BMR x 1.3
Sedentary is very physically inactive, inactive in both work and leisure.
Lightly Active | Men BMR x 1.6 | Women BMR x 1.5
Lightly active means the daily routine includes some walking, or intense exercise once or twice per week. Most students are in this category.
Moderately Active | Men BMR x 1.7 | Women BMR x 1.6
Moderately active means intense exercise lasting 20–45 minutes at least three time per week, or a job with a lot of walking, or a moderate intensity job.
Very Active | Men BMR x 2.1 | Women BMR x 1.9
Very active means intense exercise lasting at least an hour per day, or a heavy physical job, such as a mail carrier or an athlete in training.
Extremely Active | Men BMR x 2.4 | Women BMR x 2.2
Extremely active means an athlete on an unstoppable training schedule or a very demanding job, such as working in the armed forces or shovelling coal.
Case Example 1:
Pre-T / 28 Years Old / 65kg / Moderately Active
BMR = 14.8 x 65 x 487 = 1449kcal
PAF = 1.6
1449kcal x 1.6 = 2318kcal
Daily Energy Requirement = 2318 kcalories
Case Example 2:
2 Years On T / 54 Years Old / 95kg / Inactive
BMR = 11.5 x 95 x 873 = 1966kcal
PAF = 1.4
1966kcal x 1.4 = 2752kcal
Daily Energy Requirement = 2752 kcalories
Bulking & Shredding
Once you’ve calculated your Daily Energy Requirement, these calories are what you need to maintain your weight subject to your activity level.
To bulk, simply add 500 calories a day to this total to hypothetically gain 1lb a week.
To shred, subtract 500 calories a day to hypothetically lose 1lb a week.
Again, it is subject to your activity level and the amount of calories you burn. Obviously the more calories you burn, the more calories you will need to ingest to maintain or gain weight.
This is where supplements play a part, to simply boost your calories and to balance your macronutrients needed for a balanced diet.
I hope this helps and good luck with your training!