A HUGE congratulations to my best friend, Melissa and her soon-to-be-husband, Paul!! (they’re getting married tomorrow. They were the inspiration for this post.) I’m so blessed to have you both in my life and I can’t wait to see what an unstoppable force the two of you will be!
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
“I was considering bumping up my caloric intake from here on out and was wondering whether or not you thought it would be a good idea? I would like to continue staying with a lower bf percent if possible, just meaning that I don’t want to go up to near 15 percent, I am probably around 7-8 percent right now. I would say I have gained two to three pounds in the last two months, mostly muscle I believe, just to let you know.”
This was a question we received this past week and I thought it would make a decent blog post. Now, this question is from a male but this answer will apply to both genders.
There are many calculations, measurements and details that I can expound on to find your specific caloric intake. These, I think, are more applicable for elite athletes (which most of us, outside our imaginations, are not) or highly competitive physique athletes, i.e. bodybuilders and figure competitors. For us mortals, we’ll be a-ok if we keep eating real food, lots of vegetables and limit the amount of processed crap we ingest.
Elite and pro athletes will benefit from intricate set/rep schemes, specific rest periods, weight percentage manipulation and every other detail of their training monitored and recorded. Folks like you and me will grow stronger, faster and improve our physiques as long as we pick up heavy things on a regular basis and keep it simple in our programming.
Nutrition is akin to training in this sense. While, yes, calculating and recording does have it’s place in those high level athletes’ lives, the average trainee (as in 95% of the population) will have a healthy, productive and happy lives the less we measure an obsess about everything that goes in our mouths. K.I.S.S. principle applies here.
As an aside, when I was an amateur, competitive bodybuilder, the amount of time I spent planning, preparing and worrying about Every. Minute. Detail. in my training and nutrition did not result in proportional results. (I would have looked like an Olympian goddess had my results matched the amount of worrying I did. Not to say that planning is useless, but worrying about details that don’t matter, is.) This is a lesson I’ve learned. I can worry and fuss all I want about the details I think matter but doing so doesn’t make me any stronger or better than if I just eat real food and pick up heavy things (and enjoy life).
If you’re a competitive physique athlete, then yes, the more precise calculations matter and will make or break your physique. But for those of us who want to just be strong, healthy and feel good, let’s keep it simple shall we?
So, finally! The ANSWER!
*Multiply your body weight in pounds by the number in your desired goal and activity level category. The answer should be a rough estimate about the number of calories to shoot to eat every day.*
Sedentary (minimal exercise)
Weight loss: 10-12
Weight maintenance: 12-14
Weight gain: 16-18
Moderately active (3-4x/week)
Very Active (5-7x/week)
Women will, generally, do well with the lower number (as we’re usually smaller and have less muscle mass) and men will do well with the higher number (as they’re bigger, have a higher muscle mass and the younger ones have the metabolism of gnats).
Now, WHERE should these extra calories come from? Protein and fats are the safest bet when it comes to minimizing fat gain while increasing caloric intake to fuel muscle growth. If you’re shooting for weight loss, cutting back calories coming from carbs would be more beneficial than the calories from fat/protein.
Everyone is different, and what is suggested here may not work for you, but this is a rough outline of where to start. If it doesn’t work, tweak something (maybe increase carbs and decrease fat) and see what happens. Self-experimentation is the best way to figure out what works best.