T Nation

Calculating Calorific Intake

A simple question really - possibly more trivial then anything else but I digress…

The method I have been using to calculate my intake has been from a couple of old article by Thibs:
Nutrition for Newbies Part 1: http://www.tmuscle.com/readArticle.do?id=1793585
Nutrition for Newbies part 2: http://www.tmuscle.com/free_online_article/sports_body_training_performance/nutrition_for_newbies_part_2

As for the method itself:

Step 1: Calculate BMR using:
BMR = 66 + ( 13.7 x weight in kilos ) + ( 5 x height in cm ) - ( 6.8 x age in years )

Step 2: Multiply by an activity multiplier - say 1.6 for people with moderate activity who train a few times a week.

Step 3: Multiply by a goal multiplier - 0.8-0.9 for fat loss, 1 for maintenance and 1.1-1.2 for gaining mass.

My question is really about Step 2… the definition for this activity factor includes how much one exercises, etc.

Does this mean that workout nutrition is included in the calculated intake? If this is the case then it would assume pretty much constant calories throughout the week.

Thoughts?

I went with the above formula + a PWO shake on training days and found I gained weight slightly at “maintenance”… and even at 90% of that intake as I am trying to drop fatty tissue - I have barely dropped anything. I have put this down to poor meal timing and poor sleep patterns wrecking my metabolism… but I am just curious about whether I have got the whole thing wrong by adding in the PWO shake calories on top of everything else.

Regardless this week I am focusing on improving my meal timing and sleep patterns… and possibly dropping calories by a further 5%.

Honestly, I am not trying to be a dick or an unhelpful individual, but what is the point to all of this? I mean, why are you paying THAT much attention to your caloric intake. I understand its good to have a general idea about how much you’re eating, but do you plan on competing, or make a living off of how lean and muscular you are?

You caloric needs change everyday. Calorie counting is outdated (again, except those who make a living off of this). Even hard core bodybuilders don’t pay that much attention unless their dieting.

Sure, some people can do it and get great results, but do you want to calculate your daily total at the end of each day? What about when you go out with friends and you dont have the caloric profile of your steak or burger?

The body is not mechanical and so uniform like this. It varies all the time. So why treat it like this?

Again, I mean no harm from this post, and hopefully you didnt take it as such. Its just that such a tedious endeavor is not necessary. I tried this once, and you know what? Got nowhere. I also hated this kind of lifestyle. I said fuck it. Once I started focusing on good, wholesome foods, and watching the total amount I was eating, and making sure that the scale was going up (or down) based on my goals. Thats all you’ll ever need man.

Do you realize that all formulas like this just give you an estimate of where to begin, and the only way to determine your true needs is to experiment?

As with some of your other posts, you’re looking at this backwards.

Thank you for the replies but as I said in the first line of my post “possibly more trivial then anything else”.

I’m curious about the concept, the method, the thinking behind in, etc.

Also as a side note: I seem to definitely fit into an all or nothing type mindset. Just as I have no problem inhaling pizzas and not sleeping for a couple of days on end (or for a couple of days solid)… sticking to a program religiously and not deviating from my goal macros by more then a couple of percent is EASY for me.

Moderation is something I definitely need to learn… however when trying such approaches as “eating better” and a “better lifestyle”… I got absolutely nowhere and even my efforts in the gym stalled very quickly.

As for the extremely rare occasion when a deviation from my planned diet comes up… I either accommodate it (eg. accommodate the macros so everything fits) or get on with it and move on. As a whole however I am happier not cheating and I find it easy not to.

Regardless this is not the goal of the thread =]

EDIT: And to forbes in particular - weekly scale weight is something I’m focusing on more at present. Assuming that goes down/stays level whilst my lifts go up - s’all good!

The formula looks like the Harris-Benedict Formula. Do a google search and you’ll find a couple websites with a built in calculator to help you figure it out. HK is on the right track, and forbes has a couple of good points. Caloric need changes daily based on the previous day or two of activity, as well as the current days, so it is extremely difficult to pinpoint precise calorie needs on a daily basis.

Also, truly accurate calorie counting can be difficult, and is impractical for most people on an ongoing basis. However, I can understand where you are coming from to a certain degree. It can be helpful to at least have a starting point and a guideline or range to work from. As I entered a recent phase of trying to gain some weight, I used the formula as a starting reference, but have also stayed in tune with my body and calorie needs, and through experimentation, trial and error, have made adjustments along the way (i.e. if you aren’t getting the desired result, change something).

It’s also important to look at these formula calculations as averages over the course of a week or more, not just the same for each day.

ZING I think I’ve just noticed the biggest factor here - currently I’m a fat-ass.

An individual with a lot less lean mass for a given total mass will have a lower calorific requirement then another individual with the same total mass but a higher lean tissue mass.

The Harris-Benedict formula doesn’t take into account body comp. Berardi seems to have a nice calculator on his site that takes this into consideration:

http://www.johnberardi.com/calc.htm

benmoore - Berardi knows his stuff, and I understand where you’re coming from with the body comp factoring in. If that formula works better for you, then awesome. It looks like it already factors in your basic goal of fat loss or lean mass gain (somehow), so you don’t have to do the extra math. I just know that the Harris-Benedict has worked pretty well as a basic starting benchmark for myself and many other people I know. Through a little trial and error, bringing your calories up or down based on your goal, it’s been enough to get the job done.

Either way, I think either one of those formulas will give you a decent reference point to help guide you toward your goals. Good luck! BTW, it was nice to see someone also recognize that you can’t forget about working on the basics, like nutrient timing and quality sleep.

[quote]baltgilb wrote:
benmoore - Berardi knows his stuff, and I understand where you’re coming from with the body comp factoring in. If that formula works better for you, then awesome. It looks like it already factors in your basic goal of fat loss or lean mass gain (somehow), so you don’t have to do the extra math. I just know that the Harris-Benedict has worked pretty well as a basic starting benchmark for myself and many other people I know. Through a little trial and error, bringing your calories up or down based on your goal, it’s been enough to get the job done.

Either way, I think either one of those formulas will give you a decent reference point to help guide you toward your goals. Good luck! BTW, it was nice to see someone also recognize that you can’t forget about working on the basics, like nutrient timing and quality sleep.[/quote]

Thank you for the constructive posting.

Aye the Harris-Benedict formula seems to be most accurate for “average” bodycomp according to various sources but as you highlighted - we all differ.

I just bought in a big batch of food items so I can prep meals to minimize eating time at breakfast/before bed for extra hours in the sack!

For the first few weeks I think Ill keep track of things on a weekly basis until I get an idea for what my body likes and doesn’t like… from there I’ll drift into a more relaxed checkup every couple of weeks.