Optimal Caloric Intake

How Much Kilo Calories You Really Need

We all are different. Different body structures and life styles as well. Your basal metabolic rate and lifestyle activity level will determine how much kilo calories you really need to provide 100% energy for your body.

You have to know your total daily energy expenditure to adjust your caloric intake when you set specific fitness goals as well.

For weight loss you will use your optimal caloric intake to create an energy deficit. On the other hand to build lean muscle mass you will create a caloric surplus.

Follow these 2 simple steps to find your total daily energy expenditure which will be your optimal (maintenance) caloric intake.

Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure

Step 1: Your Basal Metabolic Rate

Basal metabolic rate (BMR), and the closely related resting metabolic rate (RMR), is the amount of energy expended daily by humans and other animals at rest.The release, and using, of energy in this state is sufficient only for the functioning of the vital organs, the heart, lungs, nervous system, kidneys, liver, intestine, sex organs, muscles, and skin.2

In other words it’s how much calories you would burn when spending all day in a couch without any movement. It’s how much energy you expend just to be you.

Although it’s not very real world applicable, we have to find BMR before we move forward.

There are multiple formulas available to determine your BMR, but we won’t complicate things and use Mifflin-St Jeor formula that has been found to be the most accurate.

Men use this formula:
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

Women use this formula:
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) – 161

To save yourself a minute or two use this online calculator to find your BMR. It allow to switch from US units to metric units so you won’t have to convert kilograms into pounds and cemtimeters into inches either.

Calorie calculatorWhen you use the calculator, make sure you specify Basal Metabolic Rate ONLY in a drop-down menu. Ignore activity levels for now.

Just in case you want to do it manually here are formulas for conversions:

Pounds to Kilograms = lbs. / 2.2 = kg
Inches to Centimeters = in x 2.54 = cm

Step 2: Your Activity Factor

Once you have your BMR, you need to add your activity factor to the BMR to achieve your total daily energy expenditure.

In other words you have to find out how many kilo calories you burn throughout the day engaging in different activities.

Remember, the BMR is your caloric need if you didn’t move at all. Once you actually start blinking your eyelids, taking a shower, working out, saving the world or doing other great stuff you do, it all alters your metabolic rate.

Here are the typical multipliers for activity factor:

BMR x 1.2
if you are sedetary (you do little or no exercise in a day)

BMR x 1.375
if you are lightly active (light exercise/sport 1-3 days/week)

BMR x 1.55
if you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sport 2-5 days/week)

BMR x 1.725
if you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week)

BMR x 1.9
if you are extra active (very hard exercise/sport and physical job or 2x training/day)

These explanations leave many confused. The thing is a person who works out 7 times a week can still be at x1.2 activity level if the person has a sedetary desk job.

Finding the right activity factor is very important. Although there is nothing wrong to use these typical multipliers, you can go one step towards the accuracy.

If you don’t do good job at determining your activity factor, it will affect your estimations. And incorrect estimations will affect your results.

Take This Test To Find Your Activity Factor Accurately

Take the quiz below to determine your lifestyle activity level much more precisely. All you have to do is just answer the following 10 questions about your lifestyle. Remember, be honest with yourself.


1. I start my day with…

a) hitting a snooz button
b) a quick dress up and quick coffee
c) dressing up with no rush and home cooked breakfast
d) morning jog or excercising
e) strenght training or aerobics (cardio) workout

2. I go to work by…

a) I don’t go. I work from home
b) car. And I use elevator when possible
c) car that I park as far as possible from etrance or public transport
d) feet, because I live near to my work
e) bike, because I live pretty far from work

3. My working day mostly is…

a) from home at my computer
b) at a computer/desk all day
c) active and I sit only periodically
d) without stopping but without a rush either
e) super active. My job is phisically active

4. Phisically my work is rated at…

a) 1-2 activity level (for example whole day at a desk)
b) 3-4
c) 5-6
d) 7-8
e) 9-10 (for.ex. professional sport or work in coal mines)

5. After work I…

a) am already home
b) drive straight home or stop for grocerie shopping
c) spend some time on various tasks
d) hit a gym or work out home
e) go to another work/work out more than 60 minutes

6. I work out…

a) never
b) 1-3 times a week with light intensity
c) 3-5 times a week with moderate intensity
d) 3-5 times a week with medium/high intensity
e) 5-7 times a week with high intensity

7. I normally sleep for…

a) 10+ hours
b) 8-10 hours
c) 6-8 hours
d) 4-6 hours
e) less than 4 hours

8. I spend my evenings…

a) reading a book, watching a television
b) making home cooked meals
c) outside the house socializing, meeting my friends
d) exercising and running different house errands
e) at work

9. When I do work out, I…

a) keep it to light walking and some exercising
b) keep it to moderate intensity like power walking or some resistance exercises
c) keep it to light aerobic work and some resistance training
d) keep it intense in aerobics and resistance training
e) train train like an athlete for hours

10. On the weekends I…

a) spend time watching TV, surfing the internet or just do nothing
b) rest, run some errands, prepare meals and so
c) am very active – I go out, exercise
d) engage in strength training and aerobics
e) train for hours. I’m an athlete.

How many points did you get?

A: 1 point
B: 2 points
C: 3 points
D: 4 points
E: 5 points

10-15 points: activity level 1.1 to 1.2
16-25 points: activity level 1.3 to 1.4
26-35 points: activity level 1.45 to 1.55
34-42 points: activity level 1.6 to 1.8
43-50 points: activity level 1.85

Once you have found your activity level, multiply it with your BMR. The final number is for your current weight maintenance.

Note that even you did your best to get the most precise number, it still is just an estimate.

An Example How To Get Your Daily Caloric Need

Just in case you got confused here is an example how to calculate your total daily caloric burn. For this example I will use my own current stats:

Gender: male
Age: 24
Weight: 79kg
Height: 176cm
Activity factor: 1.45

1. First I choose appropriate BMR formula (for male or female):
10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (y) + 5

2. I enter my stats into formula:
10 x 79 (kg) + 6.25 x 176 (cm) – 5 x 24 (y) + 5

3. I solve the equations to find my BMR:
10 x 79 + 6.25 x 176 – 5 x 24 = 790 + 1100 – 120 = 1770

4. I multiply my BMR with the corresponding activity factor I found taking the quiz:
1770 x 1.45 = 2566.5 ~ 2567 Kcal

My daily caloric maintenace level is 2567 Kcal to run efficiently. If I consumed this much kilo calories on a daily basis I would experience no weight changes.

Hope this helps.