How To Calculate Your Daily Caloric Needs

There are two important factors determining your daily caloric needs. These factors include:

  1. Activity Level
  2. Body Type

You can determine your activity level with the following criteria:

  • Activity Levels
    • NONE
      • absolutely sedentary lifestyle
      • you spend majority of your day sitting or at rest
      • no exercise exertion besides natural physical activity or movement
    • LIGHT
      • mostly sedentary but you may spend 20-30min a day exercising at a low intensity (about 50-65% max heart rate)
      • examples include walking, stretching, light physical activity that does not make you sweat
      • Daily exercise for 30-45min that raises your heart rate to about 65-70% MHR. This means you have to breathe a little harder and break a sweat.
      • Examples include running, riding a bike, recreational sports or hobbies
    • HEAVY
      • Daily exercise that raises your heart rate above 75% MHR. This means you are physically challenged at a high and intense level.
      • Examples include playing sports, high-intensity circuit training, or aerobic conditioning.

Once you determine your activity level you can calculate your daily calorie needs with the following steps.


  1. Take Body Weight and multiply it by 10.
  2. Multiply this number by the following multipliers based on activity level.
    • Sedentary: multiply by 1.2
    • Light: multiply by 1.375
    • Moderate: multiply by 1.55
    • Heavy: multiply by 1.75
  3. This number is the amount of calories you need daily.

For example

I am 140lbs woman with moderate activity levels.

I take 140lbs x 10. Equals 1,400.

1,400 x 1.55 = 2,170 calories needed each day.

This method of calculating daily calorie needs is based on the Harris Benedict & Katch Mcardle Formula. For further help calculating your calorie needs check out this worksheet I found through Tom Venuto, author of Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle.

Caloric Needs Formulas

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