How Many Calories Should I Eat?

Calories can be a confusing system. Some people count them to lose weight, some people increase them to gain weight, and some people don’t even take notice. However, understanding calories can be an essential tool you can use for maintaining optimal physical fitness.

When it comes to calorie consumption it is essential to know and accept your body. To understand that if you want to improve your physical appearance you can do it realistically and knowledgeably. Tackling this alone can sometimes be challenging, which is why utilizing a coach for guidance can sometimes propel you to levels beyond your imagination.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

AFT Coaching professionals are educated in proper calorie consumption and how to apply a specific nutritional model to cater to your individual needs. Learn a little about this complex, yet manageable, food measurement energy system. It might make you think twice before you grab your next meal and ask the question, “How many calories should I eat?”

Calculate Your Calorie Needs

The first way to determine how many calories you should eat is to evaluate your calorie needs. This is easily done by inputting your gender, age, height, and weight into a BMR (basal metabolic rate) calculator. BMR is an important assessment of required energy a person can use for optimal physical activity output on a daily basis.

The gold standard for calculating BMR is the Mifflin St Jeor Equation (1) named after the researchers that came up with the model. Once you put your information into the calculator it immediately gives you the number of calories you should be eating to maintain a lean body mass that can fire on all cylinders.

For instance, if you are male, 40 years old, 5 feet 8 inches in height, and weigh 165 pounds your Basal Metabolic Rate calorie needs per day is calculated at 1,633.

Now, this may seem low. However, it is important to remember that it is a BMR result, so it calculates the best amount of calories per day if you are completely at rest. If this same person’s average daily activity level is sedentary with little to no exercise, then your daily calorie needs are calculated at 1,960. In contrast, if this same person exercises at high intensity every day or works at a physical job then their daily calorie needs shoot up to 3,103 calories a day.

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of calories (men 2,500 women 2,000) is determined on a generalized scale as reported by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) (2). This can be followed for basic calorie needs as long as the types of calories consumed are nutritionally sound (more on that below).

Results from the Mifflin St Jeor Equation are a great way to determine how to navigate a fitness program for the most favorable results. It is also the best starting point when working alongside one of our AFT instructors who go beyond a well-intentioned novice trainer by implementing science as well as coaching.

The benefits of working with a professional coach were shown in a randomized controlled trial of exercise training vs. self-directed training, presented by researchers from the University of California (3), which stated:

“We have demonstrated for the first time in a fitness club setting that members whose training is directed by well-qualified PTrs [personal trainers] administering evidence-based training regimens achieve significantly greater improvements in LBM [lean body mass] and other dimensions of fitness than members who direct their own training.”

Stay Full

Choosing foods based solely on calories could be misleading. It is important to choose calories from many different types of foods, to maintain a balanced diet.

Consuming foods that satiate you (or keep you fuller for longer) can help keep you at your caloric goal. Some examples of consuming foods in responsible portions that contain nutrient-dense calories include:

  • Brown rice

  • Protein from lean meat, fish, dairy

  • Whole fruits and vegetables (avoid canned or jarred - frozen is okay as long as no additives)

  • Wholegrain bread (wheat, sprouted, spelt, oat, etc. - avoid processed white bread)

  • Wholegrain pasta (wheat, quinoa, corn, bean, etc. - avoid processed white pasta)

  • Good fat choices (monounsaturated, polyunsaturated - some examples are avocado, unsalted nuts, coconut oil, tofu, yogurt)

These foods also contain good fiber which is essential for digestion and elimination. When a diet of subpar calories is prominent, fiber consumption can suffer and so can digestion. This is when conditions such as diverticulitis can present, so being diligent in maintaining calories high in fiber is essential.

Harvard School of Public Health (4) recommends these tips on increasing fiber intake:

  • Eat whole fruits instead of drinking fruit juices.

  • Replace white rice, bread, and pasta with brown rice and whole-grain products.

  • For breakfast, choose cereals that have a whole grain as their first ingredient.

  • Snack on raw vegetables instead of chips, crackers, or sweets.

  • Substitute beans or legumes for meat, two to three times per week in chili and soups.

For a more detailed explanation of overall food consumption and calorie intake, the United States Dietary Association (USDA) Dietary Guidelines for Americans (5) can be helpful.

Calorie Restriction

Reducing calorie intake has been implemented for many reasons in many cultures, religions, and other platforms. Unfortunately, it can often backfire and lead to binging or a cycle of overeating followed by restricting and creating an unhealthy relationship with food. Rather than trying to reduce your calorie intake below what is recommended, it may be best for you to simply begin with trying to maintain your recommended daily calorie needs.

AFT coaching professionals are able to help you determine the best personal path of calorie consumption. They will remain by your side (virtually or in person) to assist you on your quest toward a higher quality of life. They do this by educating you on the best nutrient-dense foods, helping you learn to control your energy balance and maintain performance goals (including body composition), and bringing you to the best outcome you can achieve. When you are wondering how many calories you should eat, turn to AFT coaching for the individualized fitness and nutrition guidance you deserve.


Our parent company, AF Training Solutions, was founded in 2008. Since then, we’ve grown into one of the largest personal training and coaching organizations in the country. Currently, we operate the fitness departments for about 100 health clubs across the United States. As an organization, we have always had two main areas of focus; the customer experience and company culture. Over the years, we have invested heavily in people, process, and technology to ensure that our customer experience is second to none.

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