What is the Calorie Calculator?
The calorie calculator estimates both your basal metabolic rate and amount of calories you need to gain, lose or maintain weight. This information is important because the amount you eat compared to the amount you burn is the only way to control weight. Weight plays a very important role in health; knowing how to control it helps you look great, and live a healthier life. Enter your weight, height, age, exercise level and gender into the form below.
What do these numbers mean?
The calorie calculator uses the Harris-Benedict equation to estimate the number of calories your body burns each day. It provides four key pieces of information: 1) basal metabolic rate, number of calories to 2) lose, 3) gain and 4) maintain weight.
What is basal metabolic rate (BMR)?
Basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the amount of energy your body burns to simply stay alive. It is the amount of energy your body needs before physical activity is factored into the equation.
Your BMR is not as significant as the total amount of calories your body needs each day. Your weight moves based on the relationship between how many total calories your body needs and how many calories you eat.
How do I lose weight?
A calorie deficit is a state in which you burn more calories than you eat, leading to weight loss. A deficit of 500 calories means you burn 500 more calories than you eat each day (example: 2,500 calories burned, 2,000 calories eaten, 500 calorie deficit).
When the body is faced with a deficit of calories, it is forced to turn to non-food sources of energy (body fat) to make up the shortfall. Over time, the body burns enough fat to cause a noticeable drop in weight. You can create a calorie deficit by eating less, exercising more or combining both. The calorie calculator estimates your calorie intake based on a deficit of 500-750 calories per day.
How do I gain weight?
A calorie surplus is a state in which you eat more calories than you burn, leading to weight gain. A surplus of 500 calories means you eat 500 more calories per day than you burn (example: 3,000 calories eaten, 2,500 calories burned, 500 calorie surplus).
Extra energy causes weight gain. The body either stores extra energy as fat or uses it to build muscle and increase strength. Gaining muscle is a two step process: 1) create a calorie surplus and 2) strength train. A calorie surplus without exercise leads to excessive body fat. The calorie calculator estimates your calorie intake based on a surplus of 500-750 calories per day.
How do I maintain my current weight?
Maintaining weight happens when levels of energy consumption meet energy needs. Your weight remains the same if you create neither a surplus or deficit or energy.
Will these numbers work for me?
The calorie calculator is only an estimate. It is based on an equation that works for most, not all people. Estimates are not 100% accurate. The only way to figure out if these numbers work for you is to try them while monitoring your weight for an extended period of time.
Use the estimate as your calorie intake for three weeks. Weigh yourself at the same time at least every other day. Ignore fluctuations in your weight and instead, look at the overall trend. If at the end of the first three weeks you are satisfied with your weight, continue eating the same amount. If you are not satisfied, make the following adjustments:
- if you are not losing weight, decrease your intake by 200 calories per day
- if you are losing weight too quickly, faster than two pounds per week, increase your intake by 200 calories per day
- if you are not gaining weight, increase you intake by 200 calories per day
- if you are gaining weight too quickly (accumulating too much fat), decrease your intake by 200 calories per day
- if you are losing weight, increase your intake by 200 calories per day
- if you are gaining weight, decrease your intake by 200 calories per day
Monitor your weight for an additional two weeks and repeat this process if necessary. When you repeat this process, make smaller adjustments to your intake (100 calories per day instead of 200).
My Fitness Pal is an easy and free way to monitor your calorie intake and weight.
The Bottom Line
Calorie balance is the "magic" that makes weight loss and weight gain happen. There is no way around these numbers. Weight plays a very important role in a healthy lifestyle. We know that obesity causes heart disease, stokes, cancer and type 2 diabetes. It is therefore crucial to understand how these numbers work and to adapt them into your everyday life.