How Many Calories Do I Need To Eat?
“How many calories should I eat?”– There is no one-size fit all answer to that question. People come in all shapes and sizes and have different levels of activity and therefore calorie recommendations must be customised to each person. Our calculator is based on the results of peer reviewed scientific studies and is broken up into 4 sections to help provide you with the most accurate number of calories required to achieve your weight loss, muscle growth or fitness goals. Click the button below to go straight to our Calorie Calculator or continue reading to find out more about using our calculator and the topic of calories and weight loss.
Guide To Calculating Your Calorie Targets
Step 1: “You”
To accurately determine your daily calorie target, enter your current weight, age, height, and sex into the calculator. Values can be entered in both imperial and metric measurement systems.
Step 2 (optional): “Body fat”
This is an optional step but answering it may potentially increase the accuracy of the final result (particularly if you have a very low or very high level of body fat). If you are unsure of your body fat percentage you can use our body fat percentage calculator
Step 3: “Your activity”
Choose which option you believe is most accurate in terms of much exercise you get each week. It’s important to be honest with yourself here as this can have quite a big effect on the end calorie recommendation. This allows the calculator to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)- the number of calories you need to consume to maintain your current body weight.
Step 4: “Your target”
This is the part where you decide whether you want your calorie recommendation to be for weight loss or weight gain. We highly suggest you begin with choosing the recommended option and monitor the results over the first 2 weeks. Going too aggressive to begin with might impact your ability to adhere to your diet plan and may even have negative effects on body fat or loss of lean tissue depending on what your goal is.
Target Daily Calorie Intake
Depending on what goal you chose the results will show how many calories you may eat in order to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight. It is important to understand that this is just an estimate based on the results of scientific studies and while these results are proven to be quite reliable you may find you have to slightly adapt the amount of calories based on change or lack of change in weight after a couple of weeks.
The following points should also be taken into account:
1: As you lose weight you will need to use recalculate the amount of calories you eat based on your new weight
2: Your body does adapt to the lowered calorie level over time and this may lead to a “plateau”
What Can I Do If I Reach A Weight Loss Plateau?
It is quite common the closer you get to your target weight the slower your weight loss becomes. If you have already lowered your calories significantly and have been dieting for a while it may be best to look at other ways to continue your weight loss.
Common strategies tend to be the following:
- Increase your general activity throughout the day such as walking more and walking up stairs (blog article link?)
- Cardio such as running, swimming and cycling
- Weight training and bodyweight circuits
- Intermittent fasting
- Some people, especially those already with low body fat, try manipulating their macro nutrient ratios (check out our macro nutrient planner)
Do I Still Need To Worry About Calories After I Finish My Diet?
You don’t necessarily need to worry about them but they certainly are still important. Read more about what to do after you finish your diet plan here
Our Automatic Meal Planner
Our diet planner creates a meal plan designed for your calorie target and nutritional needs – it’s easy and highly effective.
Flexible dieting is our recommended diet plan for the majority of people. Many alternative diets are very prescriptive, with very rigid rules and little compatibility with people’s tastes and preferences. There are some rules of course but as the name suggests, the rules are nowhere near as rigid as other diets tend to be. Flexible dieting opens up people’s choices as there is little emphasis on making people only eat certain types of food (although eating a variety of foods and vegetables is encouraged). The diet is essentially based on establishing a daily calorie target (the most important factor in weight control) and slightly looser target ranges for Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats whilst still allowing you to eat the foods you enjoy.
The 5:2 diet is a weight loss diet. Essentially you eat the same amount of calories you would usually have to maintain your current bodyweight for 5 days a week and on the remaining 2 days you eat very few calories (almost fasting). This will result in a weekly calorie deficit that helps you lose weight whilst still eating “normally” for the majority of the week. The diet is quite easy to adhere to compared to many other diet plans and makes some social situations easier if you occasionally go out for dinner with other people who aren’t dieting.
The Zone Diet is best known as a weight loss diet (although it remains popular with many crossfit athletes who are looking to maintain or gain weight for sport performance purposes). To follow the diet you need to stick to a set ratio of 40% of your daily calories coming from carbohydrates, 30% from protein and the remaining 30% from fats. Although we allow you to choose how many meals and snacks you wish to have the diet recommends that you have 3 main meals and 2 snacks or 5 smaller meals each day.
We provide meal plans for the first two phases of the Atkins Diet. The first phase of the Atkins Diet is essentially a Protein Sparing Modified Fast (read more here). It is a very rapid, but short term method of losing weight and almost entirely involves only eating high protein foods and vegetables for a period of 2 weeks. This diet may be difficult to follow on a vegetarian diet (without mainly consuming meal replacement drinks) and if you still wish to follow the Atkins Diet it may be best to start on Phase 2 instead.
Our low fat diet meal plans are overall very similar to the Flexible Dieting meal plans except there is an emphasis on the plan containing lower levels of fat. This plan is flexible and is suitable for weight loss, weight maintenance and weight gain.
Our low carb diet meal plans are overall very similar to the Flexible Dieting meal plans except there is an emphasis on the plan containing lower levels of carbohydrates. This plan is flexible and is suitable for weight loss, weight maintenance and weight gain. If you undertake large amounts of exercise or you are a vegan this may not be suitable for you.
The protein sparing modified fast diet (PSMF) is a very low calorie diet, based on a prolonged fast, and is used for rapid weight loss. With a typical calorie allowance below 1,000 per day, its intention is to induce a state called ‘ketosis’, where the body is forced to utilise its fat stores as fuel. Calories would largely be drawn from lean protein sources, with minimal amounts from fats and carbohydrates. The high amount of protein helps reduce muscle loss and wastage.
This is the traditional macro nutrient split used, and still used, by many who wish to follow a diet to compliment their bodybuilding training. The macro nutrient split is 40% Protein, 40% Carbohydrate and 20% Fat of total daily calories. In our meal wizard we have built in a little more flexibility to these percentages in order to make the diet easier to follow.
This is the best option for people that want total control over all aspects of their diet plan and nutritional targets. If you prefer to set up your own completely custom diet plan from scratch or wish to find meals that fit the criteria and macros that your nutritionist has given you then this meal planner is for you.