In the first part of our series we gave a brief introduction on what we were going to cover. Now were going to get into the thick of things and begin to discuss what a calorie is and how to calculate your daily calorie needs.
Each day we go through numerous tasks. Some are mundane and some very physical and demanding. In order to complete those tasks we need energy. Our energy comes from the foods we eat and the beverages we consume. These energy units are more commonly known as calories. Calories act as gasoline if you will.
If you wanted to go on a road trip you would need to fill up your car with gas. In a way calories act in the same manner. When you workout your body is going on a road trip, at the end of your lifting session your tank is going to be empty. You have expended calories and used up your nutrients.
Like your car, your bodies gas tank needs to be refilled. Consuming more calories in this case refills your body with what it is missing. But not just any type of calories, you need good nurturing calories. Let me further explain.
To go a little bit more in depth we also need to understand that when reading a food label the calories listed on the label are representing the amount of energy needed to digest that item. Along with being a beneficial energy source too many calories can become detrimental.
Like most things moderation is key. Calories can come in two forms. Good and bad, sometimes known as empty calories. If we have too much of either our body will store the excess and we will put on fat. And I don’t anyone that wants to get fat. There are some exceptions power lifters are not usually as concerned with physical image as bodybuilders, and weightlifters, but that’s not to say this are the norm. Point blank period too much of anything can have side effects unwanted.
What Are Your Daily Calorie Requirements?
Based on latter we have gathered that calories are something to have an eye on. Consuming the right amount of calories is very essential and based on the route of our individual sport or fitness goals. They are a very important factor in determining the end result. Calculating the amount of calories you need is typically referred to as calorie intake.
Knowing what your calorie intake is helps you to gauge whether you want to maintain your weight, build muscle, gain strength, or burn fat. Having too many calories is the cause of obesity and weight problems here in America and in many other countries. People tend to put on weight by eating without any regard.
It is very quick and convenient to stop at a fast food restaurant and order dinner than it is to go home and cook. We have all experienced that. And sometimes in some cases it can become the only option available at that moment. However more and more people tend to eat out whether it be fast food or not and they are not keeping an eye on the amount of food they are taking in.
In weightlifting and fitness related sports we need to take in the proper amount of calories to fuel us for our workouts and create the necessary change we are looking for in our bodies. A good example would be a bodybuilder preparing many months for a show. Bodybuilders will go through phases whether it be bulking, losing fat, or cutting.
Each phase has a series of variables that are in place to help the end result. During a bulking phase a bodybuilder will be looking to put on lean mass and growing their muscles. At this point in time the bodybuilder will have decided what an appropriate surplus calorie intake is. Meaning they would be consuming more nutrients than those being spent allowing for the body to have the right amount of macros available. While the bodybuilder is trying to lose fat they are eating a deficit of calories and trying to maintain the muscle they created while losing any unwanted body fat.
Closer to a show, the final stage of preparation for the bodybuilder would be to cut. At this point in time they are looking to shred the last few inches, get rid of any excess water weight, and really hone in their figure. This period of time is about 2 weeks out from a competition and sometimes can become drastic in measures.
During the previous two stages a solid foundation allows for the least amount of work possible towards the end of the journey.
Knowing that our bodies need a specific amount of calories during any phase of any fitness career can help us to take a look at what we are already consuming and aligning it with what we are doing. Your goals will determine what you need to factor. This is a personal journey so make it yours.
How To Calculate Your Calorie Intake
Now that you have a grasp on what a calorie is and what all the hoopla is surrounding calorie intake lets go over what we need to factor in order to decide where on the scale we need to go. No pun intended.
Factoring your calorie intake rests on a few things. There are a few methods available for concluding this number. One that I know of personally and feel is an easy approach is the Harris-Benedict principal. Which calculates your basal metabolic rate or BMR.
BMR is the amount of energy your body needs to function. We use about 60% of the calories we consume each day for basic bodily functions such as breathing, digesting, talking, moving about, et-cetera. Factors that influence our BMR are height, weight, age, and sex.
Men and women can calculate their own BMR by using a simple formula.
- Women: 65 + (4.3 x weight in lbs) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
- Men: 66 + (6.3 x weight in lbs) + ( 12.9 x height in inches) – ( 6.8 x age in years)
After you have calculated your basal metabolic rate you now need to factor in your daily activities. We can do this by using the following guides.
- Sedentary: BMR x 20%
- Lightly Active: BMR x 30%
- Moderately Active: BMR x 40%
- Very Active: BMR x 50%
- Extra Active: BMR x 60%
A moderately active person would work out on average 3 to 4 times per week. Those that are exercising intensely on a daily basis could be considered very active. And for those that are performing hard labor or vigorous athletic training you can safely assume you a extra active compared to most.
The results of our fun little trip down math lane will be the number of calories you should be aiming to consume each day. Calories and calculating your calorie intake is just the start. Another term used quite often in fitness and nutrition are macros. Macronutrients are just as important as calories.
If you continue to follow along we will begin by breaking down what macronutrients are and how they are essential in bodybuilding.
Tell us your story. How many calories do you consume? What is your daily activity like. Comment in the boxes below.