T Nation

3K Calories Just to Maintain?


Doing a 5x5 routine with 10-15 minutes of HIIT sprinting afterwards on Mon-Wed-Fri. Foam rolling and doing dynamic stretches trying to increase mobility on the off-days. Got a Fitbit Charge HR tracking my heartbeat and calories burnt, which is synched up with MyFitnessPal where I log my meals, so that MyFitnessPal automatically adjusts calories for the increased/or decreased activity level of the day.

I'm 183 cm and 82 kg's. BF% unsure, but tried a scale that uses electric impedance that said 18ish percents, not sure if I believe that. I'm an industrial plumber, constantly moving and carrying stuff at work, my Fitbit tracks around 10,000 steps from 0600-1530, and then everyday activities the rest of the days. This means my total calorie expenditure at the end of the day usually ends at 3200 kcal++ in weekdays and around 2500 kcal during an inactive weekend day.

I've setup my MFP to lose 0,5 kg's a week, so it automatically adjusts for that now. I'm using Whey 80, creatine, BCAA, fat burning supplement, PWO, multivitamins and omega-3 pills. My diet consists mostly of chicken, ground chicken meat, tuna, eggs, red meat, broccoli, spinach, beans, beets, rice, oatmeal, avocado, different veggies etc. NO junk food what so ever.

My starting weight was 95,5 kg's and then I went down to 82 kg's rather quickly by following this routine (though NO calorie tracker at that time) with a calculated TDEE of 2300 kcal, minus the deficit of 300.

What worries me is this new kcal expenditure calculations done by this Fitbit thingy. Is it reasonable at all to eat 3200 kcal just to maintain?

I read an article from 2010 or something by Shugart that said 100 g carbs a day is the perfect number to lose fat and gain LBM. At 3200 kcal that will require massive amounts of fats and proteins to be consumed, no? Also the carbs should be eaten before and after workout mostly, right?

Is there anything else I should take care of? Have I misunderstood anything? Please give me feedback, willing and eager to learn and adapt.


I wouldn’t take the impedance measurement to mean anything at all. I have been at 6.5% as measured by skinfold while impedance said at a given moment I was 18%, but radically different figures at other moments. (Always too high though.)

It’s absolutely possible with physical activity to burn 3200 cal/day.

For the most part, personal observation of what amount actually eaten results in maintenance is the only way to know.

I wouldn’t treat 100 g carbs as a limit by any means, if eating clean. If the carbs are mostly not from fruits (up to 50 g carbs from fruits is okay but more than this I think is not good) and not from sucrose, you’re fine so long as as protein and fat are also good.


I am smaller than you and I lose fairly quickly at less than 3000 kcal per day.


Okay, then I’ll just try to eat the set amount of kcals a day and see what happens. But still not sure about the ideal split of fat/prot/carbs though. Any inputs?


How long have you been lifting and what weights are you up to? Honestly, I think that this level of micromanaging for someone who’s still new to it (…assuming you are since you’re running 5x5) is a bit overkill.


I agree on not needing exact numbers.

Really it’s far more important to avoid the mistakes (very important) than to hit exact numbers. Exact numbers of macronutrients are totally unimportant, except where it may help compliance. In other words if you’re a person where you do what you intend when you have exact numbers, but go off the reservation without them, then they can be important for you for that reason only. So far it’s not sounding like that’s the case for you personally.

The key mistakes I mean are a high fat/ high carb diet or meals of that sort, or having too low protein, or too much fructose/sucrose intake, or ratios that are just way off whack.

Your basic macronutrient thinking is fine, it just doesn’t need to be so precisely on any particular numbers.

The body is adaptable enough that it truly doesn’t matter if you have say 170 g carbs per day and 280 g protein and 133 g of good fats, or 225 g carbs and 300 g protein and 100 g of good fats. With a good program, either, or different from those but still sensible, will work fine, assuming those happen to be suitable total calories, which they might given your activity.

If there’s an impression from my using numbers for illustration that the exact numbers were a point, they really were not intended to suggest exact numbers. Rather, the protein and fat that would be involved to get your calories where they may need to be will be fine, and those were illustrations only.


Okay, cheers Bill, that makes sense. MinusTheColon, I’ve been on and off due to injuries, so still fresh. Just started out again now two weeks ago, so still working on getting techniques correct and flexibility and mobility up again to be able to perform exercises correctly.

Just an example of my intake the last days, not been hitting my daily goal at all, so I ordered some gainer to make the ends meet, because there’s simply no more room in my stomach for much more food than this.


I also have some questions regarding my intake routine.
I eat breakfast at 0600 (oatmeal with protein powder)
Mini-lunch at 0845 (4 crispbread with chicken/turkey ham, 2 boiled eggs)
Lunch at 1130 (150g black beans, 120g tuna, 2 boiled eggs, spinach/broccoli etc)
Dinner at 1600 (chicken/fish/ground chicken, broccoli, beans/rice, spinach/broccoli/beets/onion etc)
1730ish workout
1830ish finish workout

THEN comes the question. My pre-, peri- and post-workout supplements/meals.

Now I usually take my PWO supplements (PWO, Fat Burner, BCAA) then I sip on BCAA throughout the workout, finishing with a 30g protein shake and 60g fast carbs (maltodextrin). I then have another protein and carb rich meal a little later on. 1 hour before bed I take my ZMA pills.

I read this article by TC and it is totally different from what I’m doing. Is this something I should be doing to get the most gains, without adding too much fat? I read in the comments that TC says " but it’s my feeling that fatty acid oxidation still occurs." The whole “my feeling” just makes me skeptic!

Please help me by confirming that what I’m doing is correct or correct me if I’m wrong!


I’m sure TC can answer for himself as to his exact meaning and I can’t speak for him, but from knowing him and from many years of reading his articles, myself I’m taking the “It’s my feeling that fatty acid oxidation still occurs” was just an example of writing quickly, not wishing to provide references to back up, just stating where he is coming from.

As it happens, it’s quite measurable what substrates the body is using, in what proportions, at any given moment by gas analysis of the breath and calculating respiratory exchange ratio. And it’s a fact that fat oxidation is always going on during exercise.

However, to me that analysis while interesting isn’t of practical value.

If your total of your resting metabolic rate and the amount you burned through physical work for the day is enough for your goal, and your diet spared muscle protein loss or even allowed gain, then it doesn’t matter what proportion of fat was burned during the exercise.

It just doesn’t matter.

So for example, those people that are “working” so slightlyt on the treadmills, with breathing rates still allowing easy conversation because their effort is so little, who think that they’re in the “fat burning zone” and if they worked harder they’d be losing their fat burning, are totally wrong. Doing more would get them more results.

Training and diet shouldn’t be focused or even affected at all by what proportion of energy obtained was from fat or carbs during the workout.

If you’d like to change over to TC’s recommendations they would work extremely well. They also could enable training harder than what is possible on the current approach. But you may get great results now on your current training, so that wouldn’t necessarily be relevant.

If you want to continue with what you’re doing and work hard at it, and obviously you’re being very diligent in it, you should continue to get good results for quite some time, maybe a long time to come. Your present approach is perfectly capable of giving solid results when combined with solid training, especially as you’re fresh after a period of injuries.


Okay, well that makes perfect sense. Sometimes I just have to get things stated by someone much more knowledgeable to get it. Am I slow? Perhaps! :wink:

Anyhow, I’ll stick to my way for a couple of months and see what results I get, then I’ll test out TC’s (in my opinion) hardcore approach to see where that ends. Before results will be made however I need to get my mobility and flexibility up again, I still can’t low bar squat without hurting my arms and/or lower back.

Thanks for the absolute excellent guidance Bill, much appreciated!


You’re very welcome!


[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
You’re very welcome![/quote]

Good to see you back here, Bill. I’ve enjoyed your writing both here and that other site you’ve been on the last few years.


Thank you! A pleasure to see you again as well!


[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:

[quote]Bill Roberts wrote:
You’re very welcome![/quote]

Good to see you back here, Bill. I’ve enjoyed your writing both here and that other site you’ve been on the last few years.[/quote]

X 2

Glad to see you’re back, I also enjoyed your views in PWI (back in those days).


Thank you also! Very much a pleasure to see you again as well, and those days were good!