HOW TO CALCULATE YOUR OWN
PERSONAL CALORIC NEEDS*
By Kimberly Raring, M.S., R.D.
How many calories do you need to maintain, lose or gain weight?
Is it 1500, 3000 or 5000 calories per day? Many athletes are curious
about their daily caloric needs, but do not know their own personal
needs. Genetics plays a partial role in determining your caloric
needs, but mostly it depends on your weight, daily activity and
purposeful exercise. Whether you want to maintain, lose, or gain
weight, the first step is to determine what your daily caloric
needs are to maintain your present weight. Below is a formula
to calculate your daily caloric needs.
Step One: Calculate Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)
metabolic rate (RMR) is the rate that your body burns calories
while at rest. Many people think that the only way to burn calories
is by exercising. The body burns hundreds of calories each day
to live. The brain, liver, heart, etc requires energy throughout
the day to function. Below is a summary of a how many calories
a 150 pound man burns a day resting in bed all day. Based on the
chart below, he requires 1755 calories per day to maintain his
weight resting all day.
||CALORIES PER DAY
To calculate your RMR, add a zero to your current weight. If
you are significantly overweight, use a weight midway between
your desired healthy weight and current weight.
1. Tina weighs 130 pounds and is at a healthy weight. 130 pounds
multiplied by 10 is 1300 calories. Tina requires 1300 calories
per day to maintain her weight if she did nothing all day.
2. Sean weighs 250 pounds, and would like to lose weight. A healthy
weight would be 200 pounds. Use 225 pounds since it is mid-way
between Sean’s actual weight and healthy weight. Multiply
225 times 10 for 2250 calories for Sean’s resting metabolic
STEP 2: Add calories in for daily activity, excluding
If you are fairly sedentary (sit majority of the day) add 20-30%
of your resting metabolic rate (RMR). If you are moderately active
(moving most of the day), add 50% of RMR. If you are very active
(such as landscaper, construction worker) add 60-80% of RMR.
Example: Tina is moderately active throughout the day. Her job
requires she stand or walk most of the day. 50% of her RMR of
1300 calories is 650 calories. Total caloric needs thus far is
1300 + 650 = 1950 calories
STEP 3: Add calories for exercise
Estimate calories burned for exercise. The calories burned for
many activities and exercise is dependent on body weight. The
higher a person’s weight, the more calories are burned for
the exercise. Check out the following websites for specific calories
burned for activities: www.nutristrategy.com,
or Google “calories burned during exercise”.
Example: Tina ran 6 miles in an hour at a 10 minute per mile pace.
She burned an estimated 600 calories running. She is on the cross
country team and runs 4-8 miles per day. She typically burns 400
– 800 calories per day through purposeful exercise to average
600 calories per day.
STEP 4: Add calories in steps 1, 2 and 3
This caloric amount is the estimated calories needed each day
to maintain your weight. If you are trying to lose weight, subtract
20 % of the daily calories. If you are trying to gain weight add
20% to the calories;
Example: Calculating Tina’s total daily caloric needs: 1300
(RMR) + 650 (activity) + 600 (exercise) = 2550 calories needed
Weight loss example: Tina wants to lose 10 pounds. Her daily caloric
needs to maintain her weigh is 2550 calories.
2550 x 20% = 510 calories. 2550 – 510 calories is 2040 calories.
Tina needs to eat about 2000 calories per day for her reducing
Weight gain example: Todd wants to gain weight. His daily caloric
needs are 3000 per day.
3000 multiplied by 20% is 600 calories. Todd needs to add 600
calories per day for his weight increase diet.
In conclusion, to determine your daily caloric needs three factors
need to be taken into consideration: resting metabolic rate, daily
activity level, and calories burned during exercise. The summary
of these three factors is the estimated number of calories from
food that you require each day to maintain your weight.
If you would like more help in determining your personal caloric
needs, schedule an appointment with the nutritionist at the Wellness
Center. It is free and part of the services offered to students
at Stockton. Call Health Services at 609-652-4701 to schedule
an appointment. All appointments are confidential.
*The information in this article was adapted from: “Sports
Nutrition Guidebook”, by Nancy Clark, M.S., R.D., 3rd edition.