T Nation

Maintenance Calories


#1

So I weigh about 200lbs and if I'm totally honest, I only ever eat about 2300 calories a day. I'm starting to obsess over my diet more recently. I've seen multiple places guys writing that a guy my size who powerlifts would need like fuckin 3600 calories a day just to maintain.

Am I doin something wrong? I've only just started considering things like this, because I was curious what kind of calories I would need to build a bit more muscle or to trim some fat off around the middle or to just stay where I'm at. That would be a useful to know.

I'm just pretty confused about what people think a 200lb lifter really needs calorie wise.


#2

I’ve seen alot of calculators. but what’s a good starting point for calories for “bulk”, “maintence”, and “cut” Ex. 2.5 cals per lb of BW


#3

[quote]csulli wrote:
So I weigh about 200lbs and if I’m totally honest, I only ever eat about 2300 calories a day. I’m starting to obsess over my diet more recently. I’ve seen multiple places guys writing that a guy my size who powerlifts would need like fuckin 3600 calories a day just to maintain.

Am I doin something wrong? I’ve only just started considering things like this, because I was curious what kind of calories I would need to build a bit more muscle or to trim some fat off around the middle or to just stay where I’m at. That would be a useful to know.

I’m just pretty confused about what people think a 200lb lifter really needs calorie wise.[/quote]

there are a lot of ways to calculate this but I’ve found a decent way to calculate about what your maintenance should be is bw x 15.

this for a 200 lb lifter would be 3000 calories.

you seem a little low and your body can adjust to 2300 calories since that is all you are giving it that is all you really need to maintain, the problem is if you ever decide to cut you will be ridiculously low in calories really fast.

I personally would try to build up to 3000 over a decent period of time and maybe even see how much more than that you can eat and not gain fat.


#4

There are some serious calculators out there, each taking into account some fairly detailed variables (food choices can make a difference too, as some formulas will use a ‘Met-Coefficient’).

A rough figure though is that most decently muscles men, with an average metabolism will do well on about 3000 calories. I’m actually shocked that you’ve gotten used to eating so little. Still, bf%, natural individual genetics, food selections etc will all factor in. My maintenance cals, when I’m weighing my typical offseason 200-205 lbs is about 3400, hence my starting diet intake of 2800.

I’m curious what your muscle to fat levels look like. Additionally, realize that a powerlifter, and a bodybuilder utilize different styles of training, with the bodybuilder requiring a greater amount of work volume (and arguably a greater amount of sheer muscle). As such, the intake could be quite shifted between the two (especially if the powerlifter was lean and not all blown up due to not really caring about bf levels).

My brother in law is a strongman/powerlifter, and weighs anywhere from 235-250 lbs. He’s a very large man, maybe an inch taller than I am. Surprising to most though, I can easily eat him under the table, be hungry again a few hours later, and still remain fairly lean. Is my metabolism just genetically faster? Is it faster because I have a much higher ratio of muscle to bodyweight than he does? You realize that thyroid issues aside, the amount of muscle you carry is a huge determining factor in your metabolic rate.

Just some thoughts.

S


#5

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
A rough figure though is that most decently muscles men, with an average metabolism will do well on about 3000 calories. I’m actually shocked that you’ve gotten used to eating so little. Still, bf%, natural individual genetics, food selections etc will all factor in. My maintenance cals, when I’m weighing my typical offseason 200-205 lbs is about 3400, hence my starting diet intake of 2800.

I’m curious what your muscle to fat levels look like.[/quote]

First of all thank you SO much for a response. You can probably see why this is sort of a big deal to me all of the sudden. I’m realizing that even the guys in the 148’s are eating like 1000 calories more than I am…

Here is a pic for reference. Like 25% bodyfat I guess? I dunno, I would like to get rid of that fat round my midsection, but I have a literal phobia of weighing less than 200lbs.

(also sorry the pic is enormous, this site always blows up my attachments to epic proportions)


#6

10-12 cal/Lbs of BM for fat loss
15 cal for maintenance/recomp
18 cal for bulking

Easy, effective !

Mat’


#7

[quote]csulli wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
A rough figure though is that most decently muscles men, with an average metabolism will do well on about 3000 calories. I’m actually shocked that you’ve gotten used to eating so little. Still, bf%, natural individual genetics, food selections etc will all factor in. My maintenance cals, when I’m weighing my typical offseason 200-205 lbs is about 3400, hence my starting diet intake of 2800.

I’m curious what your muscle to fat levels look like.[/quote]

First of all thank you SO much for a response. You can probably see why this is sort of a big deal to me all of the sudden. I’m realizing that even the guys in the 148’s are eating like 1000 calories more than I am…

Here is a pic for reference. Like 25% bodyfat I guess? I dunno, I would like to get rid of that fat round my midsection, but I have a literal phobia of weighing less than 200lbs.

(also sorry the pic is enormous, this site always blows up my attachments to epic proportions)[/quote]

We have a pretty similar build, except my arms are a bit more slender, and my gut bigger. So I’m def following this thread


#8

Oh, I use this one by the way. You have to enter your daily exercises etc (so for your resting rate, just enter 24hr rest in the calc). Make sure to enter bf% though. Seriously, this is one of the best calc’s on the web:

http://www.exrx.net/Calculators/CalRequire.html


#9

Amongst the non-serious masses, I’ve long suspected that internet kcal intakes are similar to internet lifting numbers (ie. often inflated)

Good job zeroing in on your own particular requirements/physiology/genetics, as there’s no way around that ultimately.


#10

All the calculators are a great starting point but only you will be able to determine exact caloric needs for cutting and bulking. If you noticed Stu new exactly what his caloric intake needs to be to the T. This came from time, trial and error and analy logging his needs. Only you will now your true calorie expenditure. We dont know hard you work out or how many calories you burn during the day. (you may have a manual labor job) which will effect the total calories you need.

For me as a powerlifter if I dont watch it, I will drop fat/body weight so fast its almost instant. For example when I run Sheiko I know that I will need an additional 1400 cal to just maintain my body weight which puts me right under 5000 cal a day at 235-240lbs. Yes many heavy weights simply dont care how much extra BF they carry. I am of the mindset that just because you PL doesnt mean you still cant have a good looking body. Our bodies are just shaped and formed for a specific task.


#11

Well I am gonna try and get up to 3000 calories consistently just to see how things go. I’m realizing that I have a ton to learn about nutrition. I’m trying to eat cleaner, but it ain’t easy. Today I ate an entire bag of raw broccoli, and you know how many calories that netted me? Fucking 100!!! A hundred calories for the whole damn bag! It left me wondering what the point of vegetables was. It’s a lot easier to get to 3000 calories with chocolate.


#12

Don’t even count the greens in your calories.

Find stuff to boost your calories easily. I like milk and peanut butter. I drink a quart of milk a day and that gets me 700 right there. For vegetables I make stir fry a lot and will sometimes mix in a serving of peanut butter (an extra two hundred). I also love rice and always have two cups (as in, two cups cooked in the rice cooker) after a work out. That’s 1000 calories. It also makes it easy to manage carbs because I just eat half the amount of rice on off days then and I don’t notice a change in hunger.

For getting your veggies pick a variety and finds way to rotate them around. I put mine into categories (onion/carrot/potatoes, lettuce/cabbage, spinach/broccoli) and I make sure to eat something from each category everyday. It’s made me enjoy eating veggies more and made cooking quicker and easier.


#13

[quote]csulli wrote:
Well I am gonna try and get up to 3000 calories consistently just to see how things go. I’m realizing that I have a ton to learn about nutrition. I’m trying to eat cleaner, but it ain’t easy. Today I ate an entire bag of raw broccoli, and you know how many calories that netted me? Fucking 100!!! A hundred calories for the whole damn bag! It left me wondering what the point of vegetables was. It’s a lot easier to get to 3000 calories with chocolate.[/quote]

don’t just decide to eat 3000 calories over night if you’ve accurately been eating 2300 every day for some time.

You will probably get fat if you do this over night or even over just a month


#14

[quote]Sutebun wrote:
Don’t even count the greens in your calories.
.[/quote]

IMO this is dumb. Green vegetables do have macronutrients just like any other food. Count them regardless of fiber content.


#15

100 g of…
Lettuce, 14 calories
Cabbage, 23 calories
Broccoli, 30 calories
Spinach, 24 calories

If you mix them all and eat an entire pound (~400g) that’s not even 100 calories.

But anyway, lets just ignore the calories. The real reason why they shouldn’t be counted is simple – green vegetables are not what you manipulate to change your weight.


#16

[quote]Sutebun wrote:
100 g of…
Lettuce, 14 calories
Cabbage, 23 calories
Broccoli, 30 calories
Spinach, 24 calories

If you mix them all and eat an entire pound (~400g) that’s not even 100 calories.

But anyway, lets just ignore the calories. The real reason why they shouldn’t be counted is simple – green vegetables are not what you manipulate to change your weight.[/quote]

I get what you are saying in that they are a constant food item in that if you were dieting and you wanted to remove 5 grams from carbs they would preferably come from fruit/starch/sugar before you ever thought about taking from something green or leafy.

But still IMO when counting calories and adding calories or trying to reach any caloric intake every single calorie should be counted. Otherwise you treat this food as if the calories from it are meaningless and it doesn’t matter if he only eats 100 calories from green vegetables one day and 500 calories from greens the next.

Get what I’m saying? If I aim for 275g of protein and I ignore my green vegetables this number could be lower like 265g or something and then I would make up for this by adding in 10g of protein which is an extra 40 calories on top of the fat and carbs you just decided to not count because in pretty much everything there is some amount of each macro.

So he just brought his caloric intake higher while thinking that he was only eating X calories. If you are going to count and/or weigh everything else why not this one other thing?

I know grand scheme this is no big deal but I like to be precise. Tomorrow I am dropping 10g of carbs. This is only 40 calories but over the next week I predict I’ll drop atleast 1 pound from this small change in intake with no addition of cardio this is why I count every single thing that passes my lips.


#17

Do you consume a post workout shake? Those calories must come almost exclusively from food instead of supplements?

I mean, you could add EVOO or peanut butter into a shake or two and that would add 500 easy. Throw in something pre-workout or a snack of mixed nuts somewhere and you have your 3000.


#18

you’ve clearly been eating enough to get stronger, I think if you need less calories than what gets posted on these sites then you need less calories. That being said, try doing medium or high carbs the day of or the day before big sessions. I’ve had success losing fat while not losing strength by dropping my carbs aggressively when I don’t need them. I essentially just add them in if I’m feeling extremely drained.


#19

[quote]csulli wrote:

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
A rough figure though is that most decently muscles men, with an average metabolism will do well on about 3000 calories. I’m actually shocked that you’ve gotten used to eating so little. Still, bf%, natural individual genetics, food selections etc will all factor in. My maintenance cals, when I’m weighing my typical offseason 200-205 lbs is about 3400, hence my starting diet intake of 2800.

I’m curious what your muscle to fat levels look like.[/quote]

First of all thank you SO much for a response. You can probably see why this is sort of a big deal to me all of the sudden. I’m realizing that even the guys in the 148’s are eating like 1000 calories more than I am…

Here is a pic for reference. Like 25% bodyfat I guess? I dunno, I would like to get rid of that fat round my midsection, but I have a literal phobia of weighing less than 200lbs.

(also sorry the pic is enormous, this site always blows up my attachments to epic proportions)[/quote]

Yeah,… I’ve had experiences where I’ve had to sit new clients down and inform them that they’re not eating enough to lose weight (which is always met with an odd look of puzzlement).

As has been mentioned, you’re obviously getting enough nutrients to support your strength training, but in terms of creating new muscle tissue, while possibly whittling away some of the fat, you need your body to make better use of what you’re giving it. Once it’s doing that, then you can work your numbers up, and begin to see the visual yield of proper eating and training.

You’ll always have some people scream about what I’m going to say, but… it’s not as simple as “just eat more”. Sure if you get your body accustomed to ingesting more nutrients each day it will come to expect it and become more productive with its utilization. Then, you have to consider the prime use for each macro nutrient. For example, so many newer trainers will get caught up with the advertisements telling them they need a zillion grams of protein each day to get huge. Of course in the presence of adequate carb intake, a lower amount of protein will be put to its intended use (protein synthesis), instead of filling in where it must substitute for other macros.

People fill find that with adequate training and diet, the body will become a highly efficient machine when it comes to ingesting copious amounts of food. The stuff I would eat during past offseasons, often times late at night, would shock some people but I always woke the next morning with a flat, and fairly cut washboard. My body was just that adept at crushing calories, even on those occasions when I went well above what I truly needed to be eating.

Is there any real thought, or rationale behind your current daily diet, or is it just a matter of caloric tracking?

S


#20

[quote]The Mighty Stu wrote:
Yeah,… I’ve had experiences where I’ve had to sit new clients down and inform them that they’re not eating enough to lose weight (which is always met with an odd look of puzzlement).

As has been mentioned, you’re obviously getting enough nutrients to support your strength training, but in terms of creating new muscle tissue, while possibly whittling away some of the fat, you need your body to make better use of what you’re giving it. Once it’s doing that, then you can work your numbers up, and begin to see the visual yield of proper eating and training.

You’ll always have some people scream about what I’m going to say, but… it’s not as simple as “just eat more”. Sure if you get your body accustomed to ingesting more nutrients each day it will come to expect it and become more productive with its utilization. Then, you have to consider the prime use for each macro nutrient. For example, so many newer trainers will get caught up with the advertisements telling them they need a zillion grams of protein each day to get huge. Of course in the presence of adequate carb intake, a lower amount of protein will be put to its intended use (protein synthesis), instead of filling in where it must substitute for other macros.

People fill find that with adequate training and diet, the body will become a highly efficient machine when it comes to ingesting copious amounts of food. The stuff I would eat during past offseasons, often times late at night, would shock some people but I always woke the next morning with a flat, and fairly cut washboard. My body was just that adept at crushing calories, even on those occasions when I went well above what I truly needed to be eating.

Is there any real thought, or rationale behind your current daily diet, or is it just a matter of caloric tracking?

S[/quote]

Very interesting info. My “plan” if you could even call it that is pretty basic at this point. I’m primarily just counting calories as precisely as possible, and the secondary objectives are to get at least a gram of protein per pound of bodyweight and to limit my carbs a lot more. My macros now are looking like they are around 40% protein, 35% fat, and 25% carb give or take 2 or 3 percent on each. Now until recently (week or two ago) there was literally no plan. If all I had to eat one day was ice cream and beer, then w/e that was cool.