How Many Calories Should I Be Eating? Understanding BMR to Lose Weight

Updated on September 20, 2017

How Much should I be eating?

The age old question of how we should be dieting. Sure there are several fad diets and even weight watchers to help us out. While most have good ideas to them, they don't work for everyone. As much as we all feel we are individuals and unique, so do all the systems of our body, they all respond to food and exercise differently. There is no set diet that will work for everyone. Therein lies the problem for dieting, you must observe your intake and know how much you are bringing in in terms of calories and then know how many calories that you can consume before you inevitably gain weight.

So what should I be eating, and how much of it should I be eating. Food can be consumed in so many variations it's impossible to pick what works best for most people. Again we must remember that what you should be eating is what works best for you. Food should fill you up, that's fill you up not stuff. Ideally most of us should consumer our food over 5 meals per day, though most of us will make it at most 3 meals. Spreading them out helps alleviate the pain from hunger thus helping us to not overeat.

Calculating Your BMR

Lean Factor

% Body Fat
% Body Fat

Example 1.1

Male 5'11" 157 Lbs




BMR = 1691

Convert Bodyweight

So just how much should I be eating? To answer that question we have to find our Basal Metabolic Rate. This is the amount of calories we burn on a daily basis just existing. Once we wake up and move around, work, run errands, exercise, our calorie needs increase. To find you BMR do the following calculation:

Weight/2.2=Weight in Kilograms

Then Take your weight in Kilograms and Multiply is by 1 if you are a male or by .9 if you are female.

Weight In KG*(1 for males and .9 for females)*24= Gross BMR

Next Find your % of body fat. (if you do not have access to the tools needed, an honest over estimation is easier to find where you are).. Then select your Lean Factor Multiplier.

Once you have found (or chosen) your Lean factor multiplier. Take that number and multiply it by your "Gross BMR" number. This will give you your current BMR

Lifestyle Activity

Activity Level
Sitting, Studying, talking, 9-5 Desk job. Little to no exercise
Typing, Teaching, Lab work, Some Walking through the day
Walking, Jogging, gardening, Cardio Exercise 1-2 hrs, Weight Training 1-2hrs
Manual Labor, Sport related activities, 2+ Hours of exercise
Moderate to heavy labor with 2-4 hours of intense exercise perday

Adjusting BMR To You

Now that we have our BMR, it does us very little good. Most people would suffer extremely if they only consumed their BMR in calories. Such a deficit would cause a lot of stomach pain and mental fatigue.

To eat enough, find your Activity level on the chart. Once you have selected an honest level, take your BMR and Multiply it by your BMR. This will give your estimated calorie expenditure. Note that this is just a "ball park" figure and your actual needs may be more or less depending on your true activity level and body fat percentage. As both are stochastic and adaptive, you will need to constantly revisit your BMR to get an honest and truthful number to effectively eat the correct amount of calories.

Don't ever assume that any exercise machine is giving you accurate feedback on the amount of calories you burn. It is extremely hard and difficult to burn more than 650 calories in an hour, it will take serious work and dedication to get your body to a level capable of producing that kind of energy.

Counting the Calories

Each unit of carbohydrates, protein and fats should be consumed at a different level. Carbs should be consumed at 3 parts, Protein at 2 parts and Fats at 1 part of the total calorie consumption. Keeping in mind that as our activity level increases our needs for each substance increases. Protein should rarely every exceed 1.5 grams per lb of body weight, and for most people it shouldn't exceed 1 gram per lb of body weight. To make up the extra energy needs then, one should consume carbs and fats to fit the rest of their needed intake at a 3 parts carbs 2 parts fats. This is because our body will burn more fats in the day than carbs for energy. Fats are also required to restore cellular damage. Not to mention, over consuming protein will cause digestive issues, most notably rectal emission of pungent gas, and bad breathe.

Total calories needed in one day/6= 1 unit of calories

Carbs = 3 units of calories.

Proteins = 2 units of calories.

Fats = 1 unit of calories.

For the Following example we will be using the Recommended daily allotment of calories. Simply replace the "2000" with your actual calorie needs in a single day and follow along.

2000/6 = 334

This gives us 334 calories per part to distribute to Carbs, Proteins and Fats. Carbs will receive 3 parts, Protein 2 Parts, and Fats 1 Part. Take their allotment and divide it by their caloric value. Carbs caloric value is 4, Protein is 4 and Fats are 9. This will give you the amount of Grams of each to consume each day.

Carbs = 1002 calories / 4 calories = 250.5 grams of carbs

Proteins = 668 calories / 4 = 167 grams of protein

Fats = 334 calories / 9 = 37 grams of fat

What about Vitamins

So that covers macro nutrients, what about micro nutrients or vitamins. You will already be getting some of the vitamins you need through eating, but no one can actually give you accurate advice on the levels of consumption you should have, taking to many of any one vitamin can actually be dangerous and cause serious liver or kidney damage. The United States FDA does have a chart of their recommended daily allotment for many vitamins. I suggest you take that chart into consideration for your supplementation. To make it easier you can just go buy a multivitamin off the shelf and have a good amount of everything you need; this option is mostly a catch all, with the majority of your supplemental vitamins being lost into your urine and stool. You can counter this by breaking up your multi-vitamin into smaller parts. Your best bet to getting the right amount of vitamins will be to ensure you have a well rounded diet. Ensure your diet consists of a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains and protein sources. If you only have chicken, rice and carrots, you will be missing out on a multitude of vitamins you require. Mix things up, and enjoy food.

Eat safe, eat right, and remember.... dieting is really more of an art than a science, everyone is different so the same program will not work the same way for everyone. Good Luck.

Tips & Tricks

  1. Eat fresh, if it comes from a box, can or bag, chances are it's processed and full of low glycemic sugars. Eating fresh eliminates added sugar and increases vitamins and minerals.
  2. Spread it out, don't eat 3 big meals a day, eat 3 small meals with 2 snacks in between meals.
  3. Avoid frying food, regulate the intake of carbohydrates (it's really easy to over eat carbohydrates ) and be sure to eat enough protein.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


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    • Paul Rinkenberg profile imageAUTHOR

      Paul Rinkenberg 

      7 years ago from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

      The body burns fat as its primary fuel source. When you eat carbs, the body breaks them down and turns it to fat most of the time, there are 2 exceptions, duringmoderate to intense levels of exercise and restoring your glycogen levels. There is a whole other hub that can be written on this subject, but its usually easiest to cut fat from most people's diets, especially in the USA.

    • Amber-murphy profile image

      Amber Murphy 

      7 years ago from PA

      So if someone is looking to lose weight would it be best to cut out carbohydrates or fats? I see that fats are 9 calories whereas carbohydrates are 4 calories. However, you stated that the body burns fat faster than carbohydrates. So are the calories important when your body will use it for fuel quicker?

    • Alphadogg16 profile image

      Kevin W 

      7 years ago from Texas

      Nice Hub Paul, very interesting.


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