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Calculating Maintenance Calories

Hi there! I was wondering if anyone could give me some pointers on how to figure out my maintenance calories. I have a couple of questions about the estimation formules like benedict-harris and katch-mcardle.

I’m 6ft tall (1m83), 143 lbs (65kg), around 11-12% bf and 23 y/o. I workout 3-4 days a week, workouts take about an hour to complete and I only do weightlifting, no cardio. For the rest of the day I’m fairly sedentary at the moment as I am studying for my exams.

  1. If you know your bf % (roughly), is the katch-mcardle method better than the benedict harris formula?

  2. Would you consider me to be lightly active (sedentary + 1-3 times a week of exercise) or moderately active (sedentary + 3-5 times a week of exercise). Always been confused about this, how much does lifting weights have to do with this? I read that ‘exercise’ here means at least 30 minutes of elevated heart rate. I don’t think an hour of lifting weights equates to that.

According to the katch-mcardle method my TDEE is 2200 calories or 2500 calories a day, which is a huge difference depending on which multiplier I use.

  1. For the last 2 weeks I’ve been eating at least 2300 calories, up to 2600 a day (I’ve been tracking). Unfortunately, my scale in my dorm doesn’t seem to be very accurate so I can’t see how much weight I gained or lost.

  2. Another simple trick I read about is just to multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 16 and that should be your ‘lean’ bulking calories (which is 2300 for me). This does not hold account for any extra activity a person might do, but as I am fairly sedentary, this might be right for me. This means that every 6 pounds you gain, you increase calories by 100.

Note: due to a severe stomach surgery (of which I talked in a previous post about my training routine) it’s hard for me to eat a lot (even liquids fill me up really quick), so those extra 300 calories a day make a HUGE difference for me.

Thanks in advance!

Don’t overthink it … Use a formula that seems reasonable and stick to the calorie number it gives you, weighing yourself every day. Try to keep carbs relatively consistent to minimize water weight fluctuations. Two weeks is a good length of time to see if you gain, lose, or maintain weight. If you maintain you’ve found your maintenance calories. These formulas are good estimators but every body is different and the best way to tell is to be consistent and measure.

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Alright thanks! Time to invest in a better scale or wait until I get home again I guess.

The best thing to realize is that calorie formulas are inaccurate. They are estimations, not exact formulas unless you get the really expensive university full room direct calorimetry testing lol–the only maintenance level is the one where your scale stays the same.

So many people get hung up on “I am eating X calories a day, why am I not growing?!” when the truth is that the number doesnt matter–only the progress in scale, measurements, and strength tells you if you got enough to grow.

Get a new scale. Also because of your stomach surgery, get high calorie liquids–heavy cream, half and half, full fat milk, etc for your shakes. Everything should be healthy but make it calorie dense–even mixing in olive oil or coconut oil for a really dense shot of calories. Olive oil and coconut oil has 120 calories per tablespoon.


Since the surgery I get nauseated when I have too much dairy, probably got a food intolerance. Even some whey proteins make me feel really sick. Lately I’ve been taking serious mass and gold standard whey from optimum nutrition, don’t seem to have any problems with those.

I like the coconut oil idea! Seems to be fairly cheap aswel, only 3.5 euros for a tub of 500ml. I’ve tried olive oil in shakes but it’s really off-putting.

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