Determining Caloric Needs


Picture These are some groceries I picked up at a local market in Crete a few years ago. Crete has one of the healthiest diets in the world. Tracking calories is a cognitive drain.  It takes a significant amount of effort and energy, and you only have so much time and energy during the day.  The last thing I want to do is spend my free time tracking calories!  

Even though it is not an ideal thing to track your calories indefinitely, if you are trying to lose weight, it can be extremely helpful to monitor intake for a short amount of time 3 days – 3 months.

​Everyone is different and burns a different number of calories.  I move a lot, so I eat a lot, and I usually don’t gain weight.  Those who have sedentary jobs are dealing with a different situation. 
An old unscientific method I used to use for estimating how many calories one needed was to multiply weight by:
X 10 to lose weight     eg. 200 x 10= 2000 calories to lose weight for a 200 pound man
X 12 to maintain         eg. 200 x 12= 2400 calories to maintain
X 15 to gain                 eg. 200 x 15= 3000 to gain
This method lines up fairly well with more scientific measurements for some people.
To be more exact, use a free online website or an app to determine how many calories you need for your gender, age, current weight, activity level, and desired weight.
These apps work EXTREMELY well, and I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been successful with this approach.  Again, it’s not fun, and it requires discipline, but try to do it for 3 days – 3 months, depending on how serious your situation is.
These are the apps I recommend, though there are plenty of other ones:

  1. My Fitness Pal
  2. Fat Secret
  3. SparkPeople
  4. MyPlate Calorie Counter
  5. Supertracker
  6. ACE Fit / Daily Caloric Needs Estimator *Website – Click HERE

At a very minimum, track your food for 3 days when you’re trying to jump start some weight loss.  The only GUARANTEED way to lose weight is to track what you’re eating.  One reason Weight Watchers is so successful for most people is that it forces people to monitor intake. 
Steps to determine caloric needs:

  1. Pick out an application to track calories.
  2. Monitor your intake for 3 days – 3 months +
  3. Repeat whenever you need to focus on eating the right amount.

The following table from the USDA gives a good look at estimated calorie needs for the average person (5’4 126 pounds for Females, and 5’10, 154 pounds for males – which doesn’t sound very average) but the apps work much better for being specific to you. Picture This is part of a year-long series, “52 Weeks to Eating Better Than Ever

Click on the sidebar to read the previous essays.  By the end of the year, you’ll be eating healthier than ever!

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