T Nation

Undereating? Figuring Calorie Needs


I guess I need some help, T-Nation. I'm a high level athlete (Division I wrestling), but I'm having a hard time figuring out my actual calorie needs. I've been eating in the low 2000's (probably about 2400 at most, my most recent log was 2154kcal/202P/88F/150C. We practice Monday through Friday in the afternoon, with 2-3 mornings of weightlifting/conditioning (usually an airdyne workout).

Now, I'm 5'6" and about 148 lbs (cut to 141 for weigh-ins). Estimated at 9-10% (though it could be significantly lower, I really don't know.) Do you think my calories are adequate? One estimator I used said I should be eating as much as 4k! I can't even fathom eating that much food without putting on a significant amount of (bad) weight. I definitely want to get stronger and improve my athleticism, especially since I only have one weigh-in left this season. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


I'd guess since your so active that you need more calories then you think.

The best way I can think of to do it is like this:

1.) make a food log and calculate your totals
2.) weigh in in the morning
3.) maintain your calories for 2 weeks to make sure that your total keeps you where you want
4.) make a choice to either gain or cut
5.) subract / add 300kcal
6.) weigh in 2 weeks later and see how much you gained/lost

It's all about personal experience. Doing that just once will give you a great handle on things.

Good luck.


The only thing I would use to calculate how many calories I need would be the scales.

IMO you should set up a meal plan that has 6-7 meals, at least 4 should make you feel very full. Stick to it until the meals are easier to eat, then increase the amounts again until you feel full once more.


I think my eating habits are already a little more scientific than that, Goodfellow. I just do'nt know if my kcal balance is adequate given my level of training. Whenever I have a "cheat" or refeed after a weigh-in, I always perform much better in practice and in the weight room for the next couple of days, so I think I may need to increase calories.

Wouldn't a surge in calories (like going from 2200 to 3100, for example) be too much, though? 500 a week is the best approach, am I right?


You haven't really said what your goals are.

Do you want to gain weight? Then you should probably go upwards of 3000+.

From what CT has said, those with lower body fat should handle carbs quite well, so making 3k shouldn't be a problem.

If you get too much fat then just add in some cardio...

If you want to stay at the same weight and have more energy, well, I'm not an expert but I guess carb cycling could work...


I basically want to optimize my performance, and be the best athlete I can be. If that entails gaining weight, I suppose I should consider throwing my hat into a decent attempt to bulk.