By Beth Trueman | UK Personal Trainer
How many calories do I need to be consuming? This is a question so many people all want to know and it need not be as complicated as you may think. Although there are many components to nutrition that can affect our body composition many of us just need the basics in place to see initial progress!
Carbohydrate timings, appropriate food sources and macronutrient/micronutrient ratios are exciting terms and concepts you may have come across. But before you even consider these, make sure you’ve mastered the basics.
Follow my 5-step guide to make sense of your individual nutritional needs and make reaching your goals easier!
Step #1: Work out your BMR
BMR stands for Basal Metabolic Rate and relates to the amount of energy you burn at rest in order for your body to function.
This accounts for 60-75% of the calories we burn on a daily basis and allows for the maintenance of everything from body temperature, to keep our hearts beating and lungs breathing.
There are lots of different ways to estimate this using scientific equations that take into account individual differences.
Beginners: It’s useful to estimate using the rule that women burn approximately 22 calories per kg of body weight and men 24 calories per kg of body weight.
Women | BMR = weight in KG x 22
Men | BMR = weight in KG x 24
Step #2: Take into account your PAL
PAL stands for physical activity level, and this allows you to take into account your occupational and non-occupational activity levels when calculating your nutritional needs.
The more you exercise, or are active during your daily life the more calories you need to be consuming. Pick the most appropriate PAL from the table below.
Step#3: Work out your TER
TER stands for Total Energy Requirement and this relates to a number of calories you require daily to satisfy your daily energy needs. TER takes into account your basal metabolic rate and your physical activity level.
Therefore multiply your BMR by your PAL, which will give you an approximation of your maintenance calories.
Maintenance calories: is approximately how many calories you need to consume to be in energy balance. This is a state where you do not gain or lose weight.
Step #4: Work out your energy intake/output ratio
The next step is to look at your goals and work out exactly what you want to achieve – once you know whether you want to gain, maintain or lose you can adjust your TER to fit your nutritional goals.
If you are looking for maintenance of your current weight you need to aim for energy balance. If you are in energy balance your energy intake (the calories we consume) is the same as your energy output (The calories we burn throughout the day).
ENERGY BALANCE: Energy in = Energy out
If you want to gain weight, commonly related to as a bulk you would need to be aiming for an energy surplus above your maintenance calories. This is where your energy intake is greater than your energy output.
SURPLUS: Energy in >> Energy out
If you want to lose weight you would look at creating an energy deficit upon the body. This involves your energy intake being less than your energy output.
Therefore – aim to eat less than your maintenance calories, be more active or a combination of both!
DEFICIT: Energy in << Energy out
Step #5: Consistency
Once you have your numbers, hitting them and staying consistent is the next hurdle. Aim to hit your calorific goals and become more aware of your calorific intakes across the day.
I would recommend tracking your foods using a calorie tracker such as MyFitnessPal.
This is also a good technique for food portioning and calorie control as inputting all your food can make you more mindful about the types and quantities of the food you eat!
Take Home Message
Nutrition plans don’t have to be complicated – or expensive!
Follow these simple tips to work out your macronutrients should look like on a daily basis in order to reach your health and nutrition goals!