T Nation

BMR Help?


How are you calculating your caloric needs?

I have been using the formula that CT references in a couple different articles.

I get the point of the formula, except at the end, where you add a giant "fudge-factor" based on activity level. The person's weight and age only change the numbers a little bit.

So for me: Age 38, Weight 185, looking to gain lean mass
According to the formula my resting rate is 1813 kcal. I train 6 days a week, and work a desk job. So, guessing that the fudge factor is 1.6, my BMR is then 2900. If I carb cycle, I need ~3200 on high carb days and ~2500 for low-carb days.

Would it not be more accurate to keep the resting rate, and then add calorie needs based on actual activity? Or is the point that the calories burned from activity is on top of the 40-60% increase in calories burned because the base BMR is that much higher in active people?

I was averaging about 2,080 calories with carb cycling to lose bodyfat (about 1.8 lbs per week). I am trying to gain lean mass now, but so far I am struggling to find a setpoint (been going up, down, fatter, leaner) for maintenance.

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.


These formulas are a guess at best. The only decent way to tell is to count calories meticulously and watch your weight. If you are after mass though you dont really need to find maintenance. Just go from where you are losing weight and add some calories. Watch the main indicators (weight, tape measure, strength, mirror) and add more when they dont improve.


I was afraid that's what the response would be. Sounds straight forward, but I have found the weight/tape/strength measures to be lagging indicators. I have previously packed on the 5lbs of mystery-flab before the weight/tape go past the water-weight-variance noise floor.


How fast was this 5lb gain? What was your diet and training like?


I honestly can't really say, but it was less than 2 weeks each of the last two times it happened. My GI tract is temperamental, so I can be up 4 or 5 lbs just from the "backup on Highway 2" and then be right back down after it gets back on track. This fools both the scale and the "belt test."

For example, I lost 9 lbs in 4 days this week (Saturday AM to Wednesday AM), which was down a net 2 lbs from where I was the previous Tuesday. So, where I was trying to correct an overfeed this week, thinking I was gaining too fast last week, it turns out I lost two lbs, and didn't gain at all. I've had the opposite also happen, where I am up 6 lbs thinking its GI weight, and then clean out and am only down 1 lb, and suddenly I am looking at a 5 lb gain in fat weight.

The best method for me to avoid all this is to just weigh myself once per week the morning after my lowest carb day, after taking the browns to the superbowl (sorry if that reference gets lost in translation - It's an american football euphemism). Unfortunately, that means I only see a data point once per week, and even then, its got a lot of error in it.

I track everything I eat using an iPhone app, so I have all the food intake data. Its just a matter of getting enough samples to know when I have it sorted out. It took me two months to sort out the numbers before I was confident I had the formula for losing weight, which then turned out great. I am just back to square one again for gaining lean mass.