One of the most common questions NASM-certified personal trainer Sam Altieri’s clients ask is: “How many calories should I eat?” It can be confusing, and depending on your goals, that number will be different for everyone.
“If you’ve been worrying about trying to find the ‘perfect’ calorie number to aim for, I would encourage you to just start in a general range, eat within that range consistently, and adjust from there depending on the results!” Sam wrote in her Instagram caption. Use the formula above to figure out that number.
In the example above, she uses 130 pounds as the bodyweight. To lose fat, you’d eat a range between 1,300 and 1,560 calories. To maintain your weight, you’d consume 1,820 calories. If gaining muscle is your goal, aim for 2,080 to 2,340 calories.
Sam noted that the numbers are just “starting points to find the total number of calories you should be eating per day to support your goals.” You need to track your daily calories and monitor changes in your bodyweight to determine whether you need to adjust that number higher or lower. “If you aren’t keeping track of how much you eat, how will you know what direction you are heading?”
“Each person has specific calories needs depending on their muscle mass, training volume, dieting history, metabolism and genetics,” Sam added. Aim to find a calorie amount that helps you reach your goals at a healthy rate, which should be about 0.5 to 1.5 pounds per week on average. Be realistic about the calories you need and don’t go too low to lose fat faster — it “will save you from wanting to binge eat later on!”
As a starting point for what to eat, Sam said to aim for 0.7 to 1.5 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight. Then the rest of your calories can come from whatever combo of fats and carbs you prefer. What if you want lose fat but also gain muscle? Sam recommended picking one and sticking with it for a while, usually fat loss first. Then you can slowly add in more calories over time to build muscle!
Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim