T Nation

Minimum Number of Calories


I would like to know, what is the minimum calories you can eat without inducing muscle catabolism/starvation mode. I hear 1000 calories or 1200 thrown around, but never any research to back it up. could someone please point me to some research?


this is an equation i picked up off of fred hatfield's (a.k.a. dr. squat)webpage. It supposedly calculates your BMR (Basal metabolic rate) or, "energy required to maintain life." here it is:

For men, the B.M.R. = 66.5 + (13.75 x W) + (5.003 x H) - (6.775 x A)

W = actual weight in kilograms
H = height in centimeters
A = age in years


I just did a NSCA quiz based around this subject. IF the subjects weight trained they could still maintain muscle at 800 calories. 800 calories is a mouthful in my world but evidently they had people do it. I wonder if they cheated in the study though. In case they did I would add an extra 400 calories.


I have no scientific data to back me up, but all this sounds ridiculous to me. The reason is, I find myself losing weight if I miss even one meal in a day, and if I go say, 3 days or more with reduced calories (maybe 400 fewer than normal), I feel like I'm DEFINATELY losing muscle. Perhaps I'm wrong or there's more to it, though.
...My 2 cents.



I think that the number 800 comes from a study where you measured the consentration of carbondioxide in the air you inhaled and then in the air you exaled while in a relaxed state.
This information is then used to calculate how much energy the person would use under 24 h..
This is what I've been told by a teacher but I'm not sure if it's accurate.. So could someone confirm this?


Also, I tried the equation, Beefster, and that came to around 1920 calories a day for me.
Now, I currently consume around 3300 calories a day and am very active. As I said above, reducing this even a little results in losses for me, so I'd say maybe the equation works on someone who does very little in a day rather than a serious athlete.



Yeah, thats what i had figured too after i did the equation myself. mine came out around 1,800 or so, i forget. Anyways, proboably figured this to be more like a maintenance amount of calories; when not trying to bulk or cut.