The 3 Steps To Calculate Your Calorie Intake For Muscle Gain Or Fat Loss

October 31, 2023

Brought to you by…
Coach Adam
(aka TRX Traveller)
Body Transformation Coach
Founder of Fitness Freedom Athletes

As we covered in this post, counting your calories isn’t essential.

However, if you want to take things to the next level, it is.

Let’s go over the 3 steps to calculate your foundational macro (protein, fats and carbs) intake.

Which make up your total daily calorie (cals) intake, for the specific fitness goal you want to achieve.

Different goals

First we start with the foundations. This post.

Then in the following posts, we’ll then look at how to apply these calculations depending on your fitness goal:

  • Fat loss
  • Muscle building
  • Living lean and healthy (maintenance)
The 3 Steps To Calculate Your Calorie Intake For Muscle Gain Or Fat Loss

Don’t assume you need to be logging your food every single day and spending ages

Counting calories doesn’t have to take over your life

Macro intake means the % amount of:

  • Fat
  • Protein
  • Carbs

…you should eat each day.

These % amounts are correlated and matched to your specific fitness goal at that time.

They will change depending on your fitness goal from time to time and also depending on how you like to eat.

Don’t assume you need to be logging your food every single day and spending ages creating meals that match the % amounts on MyFitnessPal.

You don’t. We create one day and just use that day all the time.

For example, I eat the same meals for breakfast and lunch every day, dinner is the only one that changes ingredients every day, but the % macros (protein fat and carbs) for it remain the same.

Breakfast
Simple scrambled eggs and veg each day of the diet. 

Lunch
I batch cook my lunches for 1 week, which takes me 1 hour to create 14 lunches that I then freeze. 

Dinner
This is the only meal I cook that changes ingredients every day. But the macros % amounts (fat, protein, carb) remain the same.

I just swap out foods. And because this meal is always fats, protein and veg. It’s really easy.

My other half eats the same as me as her workout time is the same as mine, in the morning. We take turns in cooking dinner.

It takes 2 minutes to re-plot dinner on MyFitnessPal each day and because our macros never change, it’s real easy to just swap out foods and sauces.

Applying this logic makes eating healthy and consistently, really easy.

At first, it may feel a little foreign but after practice, it becomes second nature.

And it’s totally worth it knowing you are hitting your recommended nutrient values and feeling energised and glowing each day.

Everyone is different and everyone has their own unique macro numbers depending on their lifestyle and goal.

The best way to set up your macro intake is by using MyFitnessPal and logging what you will be eating eat so you can hit your numbers.

After you’ve calculated your % macros using the below steps, input your % numbers into MyFitnessPal.

Step 1. Calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)

Your BMR is how many calories (cals) you burn doing absolutely nothing, not even walking to the fridge for some milk. No exercise, no nothing.

Simply how many calories your body uses, as it is, on a daily basis. It’s known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR).

It will give us our starting foundation:

MEN = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5 = BMR

WOMEN = [10 x weight(kg)] + [6.25 x height(cm)] – [5 x age in years] – 161 = BMR

*Note down your BMR

Step 2. Calculate your BMR with life and exercise included = Your Daily Active BMR

Be honest here, if you’re unsure and feel you sit in the middle of two, then go for the less active one.

It’s always easier to add food if you’re under-eating than it is to burn fat if you’ve been over-eating.

Times your above BMR number with the below numbers depending on how active you are.

1.2 = Sedentary
Desk job, and Little Formal Exercise

1.3 – 1.4 = Lightly Active
Light daily activity AND light exercise 1-3 days a week

1.5 – 1.6 = Moderately Active
Moderately daily Activity and Moderate exercise 3-5 days a week

1.7 – 1.8 = Very Active
Physically demanding lifestyle and Hard exercise 6-7 days a week

1.9 – 2.2 = Extremely Active
Athlete in ENDURANCE training or VERY HARD physical job

So, BMR x One of the above numbers = Your active daily BMR

Your Daily Active BMR is your maintenance calories number!

In simple terms, if you ate at your maintenance calories every single day, you won’t gain or lose too much weight either side.

You’ll just stay the same weight living your lifestyle.

Technically we know this isn’t exactly true as hormones affect water retention and those hormones are stimulated by life (menstrual cycle, stress, lack of sleep, etc).

Also, You can lose fat and gain muscle whilst eating at your maintenance number.

This is why we call it The Lean & Sculpt Phase.

Your body will transform but your weight won’t change to much. It’s called recomposition and we’ll go into more detail in the next module.

However, the simple logic to understand why we have this number still applies.

Step 3. Note down your maintenance number (BMR) for later

We will be using this number in the following blog posts depending on whether out goal is build muscle or lose fat..

Are vegetables a carb?

No, we do not class them as a carb.

We always want to aim for around at least 400g of veg at lunch and around 300g of veg at dinner.

The vegetables we class as carbs contain starch, things like:

  • potato
  • yams
  • butternut squash

because they are high in starch. 

Whilst vegetables will still count towards our total daily calorie intake.

You do not need to worry about the ‘carb’ source of them in MyFitnessPal

The carbohydrate found in vegetables does not have the same insulin spiking effect as REAL CARB sources (pasta, rice, oats etc) so we don’t need to worry about them.

They are not classed as REAL CARB sources for us.

You can never have too many vegetables. You will never become fat from eating lots of vegetables.

Let’s get to it!

Coach Adam

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The 3 Steps To Calculate Your Calorie Intake For Muscle Gain Or Fat Loss

Coach Adam  (aka TRX Traveller)

Coach Adam (aka TRX Traveller)

Bodyweight Transformation Specialist

I help people build lean muscle, lose fat, and transform their body anywhere! With my complete body transformation TRX Suspension Trainer and Resistance Band Programs, and Private 1-1 Coaching.

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