Potential Calorie Needs
This is your public service announcement that 1200-1600 calories per day may not be enough to adequately fuel those who love working out, lifting, and being active. While our daily calorie recommendations may depend on our activity level and age, we likely need to be eating way more than society and diet culture have been telling us.
Maintenance Calories = the total calories required on a daily basis to maintain your body weight, with no gains or losses to muscle or fat tissue. Aka, the number of calories you need to live (and love) life!
You should likely be eating at maintenance more than you do anything else (:
Your thyroid levels, sex hormones, and menstrual cycle can take a hit if you’re chronically dieting and eating less food and calories than you really need to support your daily activity and lifestyle.
Our 2 fave ways to estimate maintenance:
On PN Calculator, make sure to select “Improve Health.” TDEE Calculator, enter your body fat percentage. PN tends to be more accurate for those with more muscle and leaner folks who are super active, while TDEE tends to be more accurate for those with more body fat and those who aren’t as active.
Try to be honest with your activity levels, but keep in mind that “Sedentary” would imply you are NOT working out and hardly get any steps or activity. If you’re lifting 3-5 times per week and getting about 8,000 steps per day, you’ll likely be in the “Moderate” category. But again – these are just a starting place. You HAVE to test and see what’s true for you!
The Bottom Line
Remember, we are all unique snowflakes and 98,723 factors go into determining your daily calorie recommendations.
The charts above may or may NOT be perfectly true for you, but they’re a great ESTIMATE and starting point (in addition to things like PN and TDEE Calculators). Once you actually track your macros, you can then test to see what’s true for YOUR body.
As always, you need to remember that this process also takes time. You can’t just change your calorie intake overnight and expect to see positive results. We have to constantly test and re-evaluate so we can find our body’s natural settling point, and even then this will still require adjustments over time.
Need More Help?
Hop over and grab a copy of LCK’s super detailed 130-page Nutrition Ebook, The Ultimate Guide to Nutrition, Muscle Gain, & Fat Loss. It’s a compilation of 15+ years of 1:1 nutrition and fitness coaching experience and formal education in Food, Nutrition, & Dietetics.
We also have a pretty sick list of nutrition coaches here that work directly with Paragon Members and can help you with your individual journey. 1:1 coaching is often a great place to start if you’re a new or advanced athlete, and we highly recommend hiring a coach to help you find freedom in food and exercise. Check out the crew here!