How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day?

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How to gain or lose 5 pounds in 30 days

On this episode of Live Lean TV, I’m answering the question: how many calories should I eat a day to lose 5 pounds in 30 days or gain 5 pounds?

Knowing your calorie needs is one of the most important steps when it comes to weight loss or weight gain.

Yes, some people need to gain weight too.

Therefore calculating your calorie needs is key when you’re on a weight loss or weight gain journey.

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Now, before moving on, I need to make this clear.

I do not currently count calories.

Say what!?!

Does this mean you don’t need to count calories?

Do you need to count calories to lose weight?

Well, as with most topics in fitness and nutrition, it depends.

In the beginning of my transformation, I counted calories and weighed all of my food for months.

Then after months of consistently dialing in my nutrition, I reached my physique goal, and stopped counting calories.

Here’s the deal.

The experience I gained from months of counting macros has now given me the ability to simply look at a plate of food, and roughly know if I’m hitting my calorie needs.

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In some cases you don’t need to calculate and count calories if you:

1. Can look at a plate of food and have a very good understanding of the amount of calories and macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat).

2. Follow a solid workout plan such as Live Lean Afterburn, and are in maintenance mode, i.e. not looking to lose weight or build muscle.

3. Consume mostly one ingredient, whole natural foods from the earth, not from a package.

If you can do all three of these things, then you can get away with dieting without counting calories.

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But let’s be honest…

Maybe 5% of the population meets all 3 of those categories.

So with that said, if you’re serious about losing weight or building muscle, it’s important to know your calorie numbers, and track them, during your transformation.

Remember, the things that get measured are the things that get done.

So it’s time to get back to the fundamentals of nutrition, and talk about the grand daddy of them all, calories.

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In particular, how many calories do you need, to accomplish your specific goal, in a set specific time.

So today, I’m going to show you how to calculate your calories needs.

But first, there are many different ways and formulas to calculate your calorie requirements.

The fastest and easiest way to calculate how many calories you need in a day is our Live Lean calorie calculator.

How many calories should I eat a day?

One of the most standard methods used is based off your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and your Activity Factor (Harris-Benedict).

To help you quickly calculate these, we’ve created this free Live Lean calorie calculator to do all the work for you.

So if you simply want to get your calorie goals, use the below calorie calculator.

Simply fill out the fields in the calorie calculator below to calculate how many calories you need to eat per day to:

  • maintain your current weight
  • lose 1 pound per week
  • gain 1 pound per week

Live Lean Calorie Calculator

Note: If you’re a numbers geek, and want to know what your basal metabolic rate is, and how your calorie goals were calculated, keep reading.

What is basal metabolic rate (BMR)?

In my book, Awaken The Abs Within, I shared the exact formula to calculate your basal metabolic rate.

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The basal metabolic rate is essentially the amount of calories your body requires just to function.

Think about it this way.

If you were to just stay in bed all day, your BMR is the amount of calories your body would burn at rest.

4 simple steps to manually calculate your calorie needs

Again, if you’re not a numbers person, simply use the Live Lean calorie calculator and you’re done.

Step #1: Calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR) using a BRM calculator

Here’s how to calculate your basal metabolic rate.

You can quickly calculate your BMR by using the free BMR calculator on this website.

Once you’re there, in the given fields, enter your:

  1. Height: I’m 5’11”
  2. Weight: I’m 173 pounds
  3. Age: I’m 39 years old
  4. Gender: Male
  5. Click: “Calculate BMR” button
How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day

By submitting this information, within seconds, it will calculate your BMR.

How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day

Using my data, it calculated:

  • My current basal metabolic rate is: 1,780 calories per day.

It’s that simple.

Note: when I filmed the video for this post, I was 32 years old and 175 pounds.

Based on my calculations at that time, my BMR was 1,840 calories.

Therefore, my BMR has decreased 60 calories a day, based on being older and weighing slightly less.

Thus, when you get older and weigh less, your BMR can down.

Or manually calculate your basal metabolic rate (BMR)

Again, if you’re a numbers geek, in my book, Awaken The Abs Within, I share the exact formula to manually calculate your basal metabolic rate.

So if you prefer to calculate the numbers yourself, here’s the BMR formula for men and women.

BMR calculation formula for men:

  • (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5 x height in cm) – (6.76 x age) + 66

BMR calculation formula for women:

  • (9.56 x weight in kg) + (1.85 x height in cm) – (4.68 x age) + 655

Conversion note:

  • 1 lbs = 0.45 kg
  • 1 inch = 2.54 cm

Let’s use my stats as an example to make the conversions:

  • 173 lbs x 0.45 kg = 77.85 kg
  • 5’11” = 71 inches (5 feet x 12 inches/foot) + 11
  • 71 inches x 2.54 cm = 180.34 cm

BMR calculation formula for men:

  • (13.75 x 77.85 kg) + (5 x 180.34 cm) – (6.76 x 39 years old) + 66
  • 1070.44 + 901.70 – 263.64 + 66
  • = 1,774.5 calories

As you can see, this manual calculation is very close to the BMR calculator calculation of 1,780 calories.

Again, your BMR is NOT the amount of calories you need to maintain, gain, or lose weight.

Your BMR is just how many calories your body requires to function while at rest.

Now that you’ve completed step #1 by calculating your basal metabolic rate, it’s now time to talk about the next step, activity factor.

Step #2: Calculate your activity factor

The next step in calculating how many calories you need is to calculate your activity factor using the Harris-Benedict equation.

The activity factor essentially calculates how much you are moving your body throughout the day.

Here are the different categories to select your activity factor:

For example, if you are not working out at all, you would select an activity factor of 1.2.

If you workout:

  • 1-3 times per week, multiply your BMR by an activity factor 1.375
  • 4-5 times per week, multiply your BMR by an activity factor 1.55
  • 6-7 times per week, multiply your BMR by an activity factor 1.725
  • Every single day and have a physical labor job, multiply your BMR by an activity factor 1.9

Since I workout 6-7 times per week, my activity factor is 1.725.

Step #3: Calculate your maintenance calories

Next, simply multiply your basal metabolic rate, which we just calculated in step 1, by your activity factor from step #2.

This will give you your maintenance calories.

BMR x Activity Factor = Maintenance Calories

My maintenance calorie calculation:

  • 1,780 BMR x 1.725 activity factor
  • My maintenance calories = 3,070 calories

This is based off of my BMR and activity factor.

Live Lean calorie calculator maintenance calories:

  • 2,970 calories

Therefore, I estimate my maintenance calories between 2,970 – 3,070 calories per day.

Consuming your maintenance calories does not make you gain weight or lose weight.

Your maintenance calories is the amount of calories you need to maintain your current weight and size.

Coming up next in step #3, we’re going to decide if we want to gain or lose weight, and how we can do it in a specific period of time.

Step #4: How many calories should I eat a day to be in a calorie deficit or calorie surplus

Step #4 is the fun part of calculating your calories.

This is the step where we make it specific and measurable to your goals.

Let’s start with an example.

If I was looking to lose 5 pounds in 30 days, here is how I would have to manipulate my maintenance calories, as calculated in step #3.

To lose 1 pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories.

3,500 calories = 1 pound

How to lose 5 pounds in 30 days

If your goal is to lose 5 pounds in 30 days, at the end of the month you need to be in a caloric deficit of 17,500 calories.

  • 17,500 calories / 30 days
  • daily caloric deficit = 583 calories

This means every single day you need to be in a caloric deficit of 583 calories.

2 common ways to create a calorie deficit

Here are the 2 most common ways to create a caloric deficit.

I highly recommend you create a calorie deficit by using both of these methods:

#1. Eat less food

#2. Workout to burn more calories

By doing this combination, you’ll be taking in less calories, but you’re also burning more calories by being more active.

I highly recommend you create a calorie deficit this way, rather then just cutting your calories too much and not exercising at all.

3 Ways To Create A Calorie Deficit For Weight Loss

This is important because you want to be maintaining muscle and possibly building muscle along the way.

Here’s an example of how to calculate a calorie deficit to lose 5 pounds in 30 days

Based on your calorie requirements to maintain your current weight (as calculated in step #2), we now need to subtract 583 calories.

For me to lose 5 pounds in 30 days, I would have to consume:

  • 3,070 calories – 583 calories = 2,487 calories per day

This is based off of my BMR and activity factor.

Live Lean calorie calculator to lose 1 pound per week:

  • 2,470 calories per day

Here’s an example of how to calculate a calorie surplus to gain 5 pounds in 30 days

If you’re looking to gain weight, you would do the opposite calculation, by adding 583 calories to your daily maintenance calories, rather than subtracting them.

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For me to gain 5 pounds in 30 days, I would have to consume:

  • 3,070 calories + 583 calories = 3,653 calories per day

This is based off of my BMR and activity factor.

Live Lean calorie calculator to lose 1 pound per week:

  • 3,470 calories per day

There you go.

Those were the 4 simple steps on how to calculate your:

  • Basal metabolic rate: which is what your body needs just a function.
  • Activity factor: which is how much you move your body
  • Maintenance calories: which is how many calories you need to maintain your current weight
  • Specific calorie needs: based on a goal of losing weight or gaining weight in a specific period of time.

Hopefully this helped clear up a lot of the confusion surrounding your question of: how many calories should I eat a day?

Now it’s time to calculate your calorie numbers

I don’t want you to just sit there and watch me calculate my calorie needs.

I want you to start calculating your calorie needs on your own.

Please share what your calorie needs are in the comment section below.

How do I calculate my macros?

Now that you know your calorie needs, the next step is to calculate how these calories should be split up from a macronutrient percentage and ratio perspective.

To help, here’s a post on how much protein, carbohydrates, and fat you need, based on your new calorie calculation.

How do I distribute my calories and macros per meal?

After that, here’s a post on how to distribute your calories and macronutrients throughout the day.

Like i said, we’re getting back to the fundamentals of nutrition.

This year is all about Living Lean.

I will talk to you soon.


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Question For You:

  • What are your calorie requirements based on the information in the video?
  • Do you count your calories?

Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.

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79 responses to “How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day?

  1. I don’t actually calculate the calories that I consume. But I look at the quantity and the type of food I eat. Mostly I avoid junk food and try t eat freshly cooked food. This helps me a lot to be healthy and maintain my weight.

  2. 5ft 2.5in, 150lb, female (little teapot). Bmr of 1,470. I workout/cardio 4-5 times a week. 147×1.55= 2278 to maintain. If I want to lose 5lbs in 30 days I need to eat 291 cals less a day and burn 291 cals through exercise. We shall see. I currently aim for 1600 though I usually go over and aim for 5 days of gym time.

  3. With the calculations you use for losing weight, if I want to lose 3lbs per month I would have to eat less cals per day than if I wanted to lose 5lbs, how is this possible?

  4. hmm i am so confused…? i dont if i should be looking out for calories,sodium,carbs,sugars,fats,trans fats,saturated fats, mono fats,poly fats…?

  5. Hi Brad, What if after subtracting the 500 calories for weight loss I’m slightly below
    my BMR? Ex. My BMR is 1315 X 1.375= 1800-500= 1300.

  6. I focus more of my efforts to eat a cleaner (same amount of) calories rather than create a calorie deficit because I believe the “unclogging” of my hormones is a more long term method. There are times when irresponsibly calorie hack or fast and/or add a workout in/increase the intensity of one or more workout. BTW: I’m 33, 187cm, 87-89kg and moderately/highly active.

  7. Hi Brad:
    BMR of 1649.45 x 1.2 (Current Activity Factor) = 1979.34
    Calorie Deficit 3500 x 8 (8 lb. loss per month) = 28,000 / 30 = 933.33
    933.33 Calorie Deficit Thanks for the lesson and have a wonderful day!

  8. Thanks for this Brad. I’m currently hosting a DietBet and I have 200+ participants who should read this post/watch this video. I’m sharing it with them in our forum!

  9. Great job! very informative, I count calories and my calories for the day are 1520, on top of that I exercise and also log all my food on my fitness pal. 🙂

  10. So when i went to the myfitnesspal website and told them I wanted to lose weight they told me I need 1290 kcal a day. I have a desk job but workout a min. of 4/5 days a week for 40/50 minutes. When I do this calculation my BMR is 1458
    my workout number is 1.55 and my total caloric intake should be 1677 kcal to lose 5 lb? Isn’t that way to much? I’m ‘5.675’ and weight 137.78 (173cm – 62.5 kilo)

  11. You know its cold in Hali when Gouthro is wearing layers and not showing off his muscle, lol! Great video topic Brad!

  12. To maintain I need 2,621 calories being 5’9″ and 180lbs. I think i need to get down to at least 170 to be at 8 or 9% body fat, which is my goal. But thats my goal for the next three months. Awesome video!

  13. My BMR is 1874.1
    My total caloric intake should be 2248.92
    To get to 5 lb. loss my total caloric intake should be 1665.92
    I know what to eat for breakfast and lunch…but by 3p I’m pigging out on my cravings… Not Good!

  14. I get 2,962 calories to stay the same. So roughly 2,500 is what I’ll be shooting for. I don’t really count calories with every thing I eat. But it helps to have an idea of what to aim for.

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