Calorie Calculator: Estimate The Calories For Any Goal

This calorie calculator estimates how many calories you need to consume each day to reach your goal (weight loss, weight maintenance, or weight gain). 

Let’s Get Started

Do you know your body fat percentage?

What Is a Calorie?

A calorie is a unit of energy. In more scientific terms, it is how much energy you need to raise one kilogram of water. 

The foods you consume provide a certain number of calories. It helps determine how much energy food provides once the body digests and absorbs it. 

Remember that not all calories are the same. Some provide more nutrients than others. As a recommendation, eat those which provide the most nutrients to ensure you nurture the body. 

How Does The Calorie Counter Work?

A calorie counter uses weight, age, height, activity levels, and goal to determine how many calories you need to consume per day to reach your goals. 

BMR Calculation

First, it determines your BMR, which uses age, height, and weight to determine the minimal amount of calories the body needs to survive. 

Our calculator uses two different equations. Which one it uses depends on whether you input fat percentage or not. The two formulas we use are the Mifflin St. Jeor Equation and the Cunningham Equation. 

They are as follows:

Mifflin-St Jeor Equation (default if they don’t know their body fat %)

  • Men: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
  • Women: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Cunningham Equation (default if they know their bodyfat %)

[BMR = 500+22*{kg of free fat mass (FFM)}]

Total Energy Daily Expenditure (TDEE)

Once it knows how many calories it needs, it multiplies those calories (from the BMR), by the activity levels. You burn calories when you perform daily activities and when you exercise. So, you need to consider these when calculating the total calories. 

When you select your activity levels (sedentary, lightly active, moderately active, very active, and extra active), the calculator multiplies the BMR by the activity factor you select. 

Here is the table for reference on the calorie counter’s activity factors. 

BMRActivity FactorDefinition
x 1.2SedentaryLittle to no exercise
x 1.375Light ActivityLight exercise/sports 1-3 days per week
x 1.55Moderate ActivityModerate exercise/sports 3-5 days per week
x 1.725Very ActiveHard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week
x 1.9Extra ActiveVery hard exercise/sports and physical job

So, for example, you have a BMR of 1,500 calories. You select the activity factor of moderate activity. 

The calorie calculator multiplies 1,500 calories by 1.55 to determine your total calories. 

1,500 x 1.55 = 2,325 calories

In this case, 2,325 calories are the total calories you need to maintain weight. 

Weight Loss

Now, when you have the total calories, you need the calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need based on your goals such as weight loss or weight gain. 

Let’s take a look first at weight loss. 

Here, the calculator determines how many calories it needs to subtract depending on the intensity of weight loss. Remember, you need to consume fewer calories than the body needs to lose weight. 

The following deficits are based on the concept that you need to consume 3,500 calories in order to lose one pound. So, based on that theory, we calculate how many calories need to be deducted. 

A conservative approach means you lose 0.5 lbs per week. So, the calorie calculator reduces 250 calories per day to obtain a 1,750-calorie deficit per week. 

A moderate approach means you lose one pound per week. In this case, the calorie removes 500 calories per day to reach a total loss of 3,500 per week. 

An aggressive approach is when you want to lose 2 lbs per week. You need to decrease 1,000 calories per day in order to achieve a total of 7,500-calorie reduction by the end of the week. 

Let’s set up an example.

Imagine you weigh 180 lbs and want a final weight of 150 lbs. This means you need to lose 30 lbs in total. 

A conservative approach (0.5 lbs/week) would take 60 weeks to reach your goal. 

A moderate approach (1 lb/week) would take 30 weeks to reach your goal. 

An aggressive approach (2 lbs/week) would take 15 weeks to reach your goal. 

Remember that aggressive deficits might be more challenging. Also, if the weight goal takes more than 20 weeks, you might need to have more than one cutting phase since it’s not advised to be in a caloric deficit for more than 20 weeks. 

Thus, you might need to take a break for a couple of weeks and resume the deficit. 

Weight Gain

For those that need to gain weight, a caloric surplus is required. 

Muscle gain is an expensive process. If the body doesn’t have extra calories. 

The calories help determine how many extra calories you need to consume depending on the rate you want to gain weight. 

Now, remember that when it comes to weight gain, it depends on hormones, genetics, and sex. So you might have a rapid or slower process than the one the calorie counter determines. 

The amount of calories follows the same principle as above: you need to consume 3,500 calories to increase one pound in weight. 

Remember that you need to have the right type of exercise to gain muscle. Otherwise, you might gain fat mass. 

A conservative approach means you might gain 0.5 lb per week. For this to happen, you need to consume 250 extra calories per day to reach a caloric surplus of 1,750. 

A moderate approach is when you gain 1 lb per week. For this, you need to consume an extra 500 calories per day, for a total of +3,500 calories per week. 

Finally, an aggressive approach means you gain 2 lbs per week. This means consuming 1,000 calories more per week to have a caloric surplus of 7,000 calories per week. 

It is also important to note that staying in a caloric surplus for more than 20 weeks is not good. If this happens, you might need a diet break. 

Which Approach Should I Choose?

As seen above, the calorie calculator determines how many calories you need to subtract or add based on your approach. 

How aggressive you want to depend on when you want to achieve the goal. 

If you are on a strict timeline, you might want a more aggressive approach. However, remember that a more aggressive approach increases the risk of muscle loss. So, if you are willing to take the risk, this might be your best option. 

On the other hand, if you are willing to spend more time reaching your goals to make it more sustainable and preserve muscle mass as much as possible, you can opt for the conservative approach. 

Finally, the best option is the moderate approach if you are in the middle of the two. 

What To Do With Your Calorie Counter Results?

When you have the results in the calorie calcualtor, you can input them into your favorite calorie counter app to keep track of the number of calories you eat in the day. 

Our favorite is Macrofactor (click to read our review). 

Calories vs. Macros: What Are The Differences?

There is a difference between calories and macros. 

All macros have calories. But, each macro provides a different amount of calories. 

  • Carbs provide 4 calories per gram. 
  • Proteins provide calories per gram.
  • Fats provide 9 calories per gram. 
  • Alcohol provides 7 calories per gram. 

So, as you can see, some macros have a higher caloric content than others. 

There is no one macro better than the other. For example, even though fats are higher in calories, it might be the best macro to add for those in a caloric surplus who have trouble reaching their total calorie intake. 

On the other hand, fats might not be best to include in a large amount on a weight loss journey since they provide you with a lot of calories in a small amount of food (in other words, they are a high energy-dense food). 

When it comes to macros, they can also have different satiety levels. For example, fats tend to digest slower, followed by proteins, and carbs have the fastest absorption. 

So, carbs and proteins have the same amount of calories. They have different satiety levels, which might benefit one group more than the other. 

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