Caloric Maintenance Level

AHJS

Professional
How can one know their calorie maintenance level? I'm trying to lose fat and gain muscle at the moment, and I eat a lot of protein to gain muscle, but I'm not sure if I'm hypo-caloric, and therefore not sure if I'm losing fat.
 

Surion

Hall of Fame
Well, the only way to lose fat is with a caloric deficit.
And there are still discussions about the lose fat/gain muscle topic, but the general opinion is that it's not possible.

So you have to focus on either of them (bulking and cutting).

Just check how much calories you burn and eat 250-500 less each day to lose weight or eat 250-500 more each day to gain weight (muscle, if you train, eat lots of protein and so on).
 

Ash_Smith

Legend
How can one know their calorie maintenance level? I'm trying to lose fat and gain muscle at the moment, and I eat a lot of protein to gain muscle, but I'm not sure if I'm hypo-caloric, and therefore not sure if I'm losing fat.
That's a tough goal, but it can be done if you're very careful with your intake (apparently variations of intermittent fasting or carb backloading can also help with body recomp).

First up use http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ or similar to calculate your Base Metabolic Rate - that's an approximation of the number of calories you burn just by existing. Form there you can use the Harris-Benedict equation to work out your approximate daily caloric needs. Once you know that you can figure out your nutrition strategy and training programme (backloading, fasting, 500 cals extra on training days etc).

Hope that helps.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
First off, you don't need lots of protein. I'm assuming by gaining muscle you don't mean like the Mountain from Game of Thrones, who has to wake himself up at night to eat to keep his weight up! That still blows my mind.
If you eat normal food you are getting plenty of protein already.
-Loosing fat is a very long term project, years. It is not just loosing the fat, it is changing your habits, and that is hard work and takes a long time.
-Start with where you are now, and try to get 5% better, thats it. A little bit more exercise, a little fewer calories, a little bit healthier diet.
-If you try to go for too much, you will most likely not last.
-Its like compound interest(remember that?). Over a year or two those 5%'s add to up a lot of difference.

As an aside, talk to people who are naturally thin and ask them what "being hungry" means to them. Their version of hungry was quite different than mine.
 

Mongolmike

Hall of Fame
Are you counting calories now? Recording them? Seeing your daily caloric intake over the course of a week?

For a week, try to count every calorie, and you might be surprised how many calories you are intaking... especially if you occasionally go out to eat, or order a pizza, or occasionally grab a Peanut Buster Parfait, etc. Stuff adds up REALLY fast. Heck, if you whip up a protein shake at home with milk, couple of scoops of protein mix, a banana, and a big glob of peanut butter, you could easily be over 500 calories right there. And if you are targeting 1500 calories a day... boom... that protein shake is 1/3 of your total intake for the day.

Then, when you pay attention to calories, you start making better choices... heck, even switching from full strength Pepsi to 0 calorie pop makes a huge difference.

Most people are conditioned to eat much larger portion sizes than we need. 4oz of steak and 4 oz of carrots on a plate is plenty for one meal, and it's pretty good mix of lower calories and good protein.... but it doesn't LOOK like enough. So we put more on the plate and finish it off. Who goes to a restaurant and orders a 4 oz steak? Nobody. Heck, most American men won't order anything less than an 8oz, and lot's of people go for the 12 or 16 oz steak, not to mention the side stuff.

Another thing is, I use this to check fat % and BMI. Very easy to use. (Omron) I don't care if it is the most/least accurate... it's a baseline for me. Same as a scale. Doesn't matter which scale you use, just use the same one all the time to track progress. If you only use your home scale, it doesn't matter if it is 4 pounds different then the scale at the gym... just use the same one all the time to track progress. Same as the fat % monitor. First time is the baseline and check progress/regressions from that baseline.



So for an average guy (me) who has gone from 220#'s to 188, it is calorie counting, diet adjustment based on the calorie count, maintain current level of activity or ideally to increase frequency, and monitor progress with scale, fat %, and fit of clothes.

And for me, coming off a knee replacement... I had that as part of the motivation to lose weight to lessen the stress on new and old knee, in addition to just knowing I was too heavy, even if I didn't look like it.
 

shindemac

Hall of Fame
There isn't enough info in your post. If your eating vastly diff. every day, use a calorie tracker. Then compare that with your recommeded calorie intake or use a calculator to find out. Just google it. They may even have apps for that.

If you eat roughly the same every day, then you can count 1 day's worth of meals. Then it will be the same everyday.

Or don't count your calories at all. Just step on a scale and see if your losing weight. (Are you fat and trying to lose fat? Or trying to bulk?) Adjust diet as necessary until the pounds come off.
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
First off, you don't need lots of protein. I'm assuming by gaining muscle you don't mean like the Mountain from Game of Thrones, who has to wake himself up at night to eat to keep his weight up! That still blows my mind.
If you eat normal food you are getting plenty of protein already.
-Loosing fat is a very long term project, years. It is not just loosing the fat, it is changing your habits, and that is hard work and takes a long time.
-Start with where you are now, and try to get 5% better, thats it. A little bit more exercise, a little fewer calories, a little bit healthier diet.
-If you try to go for too much, you will most likely not last.
-Its like compound interest(remember that?). Over a year or two those 5%'s add to up a lot of difference.

As an aside, talk to people who are naturally thin and ask them what "being hungry" means to them. Their version of hungry was quite different than mine.
OK this is just completely wrong. I hope you realize the MASSIVE gap between what a 400lb man needs to eat and a regular sized person. But if he wants to gain muscle he's most likely going to need to eat more protein. The recommended varies, but an easy way is to make sure you get 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. I GUARANTEE you're not hitting that number right now. I eat chicken breasts, peanut butter, whole milk, etc every day, and I'd still come up short on my protein number without a protein shake.
 

Lance L

Semi-Pro
OK this is just completely wrong. I hope you realize the MASSIVE gap between what a 400lb man needs to eat and a regular sized person. But if he wants to gain muscle he's most likely going to need to eat more protein. The recommended varies, but an easy way is to make sure you get 1g of protein per lb of bodyweight. I GUARANTEE you're not hitting that number right now. I eat chicken breasts, peanut butter, whole milk, etc every day, and I'd still come up short on my protein number without a protein shake.
Sure, whatever you say. You used a couple all caps, how can I argue with that?
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
Sure, whatever you say. You used a couple all caps, how can I argue with that?
Well you're definitely not in position to argue this, so good idea. Saying you don't need lots of protein to build muscle is just idiotic.
 

AHJS

Professional
Well, the only way to lose fat is with a caloric deficit.
And there are still discussions about the lose fat/gain muscle topic, but the general opinion is that it's not possible.

So you have to focus on either of them (bulking and cutting).

Just check how much calories you burn and eat 250-500 less each day to lose weight or eat 250-500 more each day to gain weight (muscle, if you train, eat lots of protein and so on).
To lose fat you have to be in a deficit, but to gain muscle I don't think you have to be in a surplus, you just have to have a positive nitrogen balance to build muscle.
 

AHJS

Professional
That's a tough goal, but it can be done if you're very careful with your intake (apparently variations of intermittent fasting or carb backloading can also help with body recomp).

First up use http://www.bmi-calculator.net/bmr-calculator/ or similar to calculate your Base Metabolic Rate - that's an approximation of the number of calories you burn just by existing. Form there you can use the Harris-Benedict equation to work out your approximate daily caloric needs. Once you know that you can figure out your nutrition strategy and training programme (backloading, fasting, 500 cals extra on training days etc).

Hope that helps.
Thank you, I came out with around 3000cals, and I've been eating 2500 a day for the past little while. Maybe I should up the calorie intake a bit!
 

elga

Rookie
Generic calculators can give a general idea, but everyone's body is different. Take for example, bmi; it's a simple generic number that's commonly used in the medical industry but doesn't account for muscle mass vs. fat.

The best way is to just write down what you consume every day for 5 days and total up the daily caloric intake and note how much protein, carbs, and fat you're consuming each day. Be honest with yourself - if you have a soda, write it down. "Losing fat and gaining muscle" could be as simple as adjusting the nutrients and keeping the same caloric intake (ie more protein, less fat, etc), or it could mean reducing the overall caloric intake, or a combination of the two. And that's just speaking for the diet side of things, not taking cardio and workout adjustments into consideration.
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
Generic calculators can give a general idea, but everyone's body is different. Take for example, bmi; it's a simple generic number that's commonly used in the medical industry but doesn't account for muscle mass vs. fat.

The best way is to just write down what you consume every day for 5 days and total up the daily caloric intake and note how much protein, carbs, and fat you're consuming each day. Be honest with yourself - if you have a soda, write it down. "Losing fat and gaining muscle" could be as simple as adjusting the nutrients and keeping the same caloric intake (ie more protein, less fat, etc), or it could mean reducing the overall caloric intake, or a combination of the two. And that's just speaking for the diet side of things, not taking cardio and workout adjustments into consideration.
This + keeping track of your weight over a decent period of time. Weight can easily fluctuate a few pounds over even the course of the day, so the trend is what is important. Track your calories(you won't have to do this for very long, but you need to get a good idea) and track your weight. Find out how much you're eating on average, and where your weight is trending. If it's staying the same you know what your calorie number for maintenance is.

From there, adjust! If you want to put on muscle, up the calories and make sure you are getting 1g/lb of bodyweight in protein. The more calories you add, the faster you will gain weight(both muscle and fat). Calories determine whether you are losing or gaining weight, but where your calories come from determine what that weight is made up of .
 

elga

Rookie
This + keeping track of your weight over a decent period of time. Weight can easily fluctuate a few pounds over even the course of the day, so the trend is what is important. Track your calories(you won't have to do this for very long, but you need to get a good idea) and track your weight. Find out how much you're eating on average, and where your weight is trending. If it's staying the same you know what your calorie number for maintenance is. [...]
Agreed; and mirror is just as important as a scale. Just because weight is increasing or decreasing it doesn't mean it's a negative change - could be a gain of muscle or loss of fat which could be the desired outcome despite reflecting oppositely on the scale :)
 
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movdqa

Talk Tennis Guru
Follow the trend over time. If you're eating 2000 calories and your BMR should be 2,500 but you're gaining weight, then you're not correctly tracking your calories. Assuming that your tracking is consistent, pick a level and stick to it for a while and see where your weight goes. If it goes up, you might want to lower your calorie target.

Clothing size may be a useful tool as well. If your waist size is shrinking, then that's usually a good thing.
 

norcal

Hall of Fame
The calculator posted said my base metabolic rate was 1480. Actual lab testing I had done recently determined my actual resting cal rate is 1770. So yeah, your milage may vary
 

AHJS

Professional
I've upped my calories from 2500 to around 3000 a day but am not sure I'm meeting my necessary calories to build muscle. How can I know what my BMR is and how many cals I expend during the day from exercise and other activities?!
 

T1000

Legend
Recomping (gaining muscle and losing far) is possible natty but it's difficult to do correctly and is a very slow process. If you know what you're doing then go for it because it's the best option IMO but cutting then bulking is easier to do correctly for most
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
I've upped my calories from 2500 to around 3000 a day but am not sure I'm meeting my necessary calories to build muscle. How can I know what my BMR is and how many cals I expend during the day from exercise and other activities?!
3,000 calories is likely enough unless you're a really big dude. There's calculators and **** but those are all estimates. The best way to do it, is eat however many calories for 2 weeks-1month, and track your weight. That amount of time is enough to see a trend. If you're going up, good! If you're not, add 300-500 calories, etc.
 

Spin Doctor

Professional
Recomping (gaining muscle and losing far) is possible natty but it's difficult to do correctly and is a very slow process. If you know what you're doing then go for it because it's the best option IMO but cutting then bulking is easier to do correctly for most
Is it better to cut first, then bulk? I would have thought it easier to bulk then cut after.
 

Noveson

Hall of Fame
Is it better to cut first, then bulk? I would have thought it easier to bulk then cut after.
Depends where your body fat is at. Most people are over 20% bf and should probably eat a low calorie/high protein diet and lift. You're going to put on extra fat when bulking most likely, you don't want to be starting with a bunch extra already.
 

T1000

Legend
Is it better to cut first, then bulk? I would have thought it easier to bulk then cut after.
Depends on your bodyfat percentage and goals. I was 130ish at 6'1 when I started lifting had visible abs and no fat so I bulked. Another kid I knew in college was 6'1 230 mostly fat no visible muscle so he cut then bulked. You grow better the leaner you are (you are more likely to put on more quality mass than fat)
 

AHJS

Professional
All was going well when I was occasionally playing and working out all the time, I kept steadily gaining size, and it seemed like nearly all lean muscle.
Now I've started going to train hard for 2 hours a day and 30mins of conditioning, plus my workouts at the gym. Clearly, 2.5 hours of cardio isn't exactly conducive to building muscle.
What can I do to keep gaining size and make sure I stay anabolic?!
 

mbm0912

Hall of Fame
All was going well when I was occasionally playing and working out all the time, I kept steadily gaining size, and it seemed like nearly all lean muscle.
Now I've started going to train hard for 2 hours a day and 30mins of conditioning, plus my workouts at the gym. Clearly, 2.5 hours of cardio isn't exactly conducive to building muscle.
What can I do to keep gaining size and make sure I stay anabolic?!
Trenbolone
 

Big_Dangerous

Talk Tennis Guru
First off, you don't need lots of protein. I'm assuming by gaining muscle you don't mean like the Mountain from Game of Thrones, who has to wake himself up at night to eat to keep his weight up! That still blows my mind.
If you eat normal food you are getting plenty of protein already.
-Loosing fat is a very long term project, years. It is not just loosing the fat, it is changing your habits, and that is hard work and takes a long time.
-Start with where you are now, and try to get 5% better, thats it. A little bit more exercise, a little fewer calories, a little bit healthier diet.
-If you try to go for too much, you will most likely not last.
-Its like compound interest(remember that?). Over a year or two those 5%'s add to up a lot of difference.

As an aside, talk to people who are naturally thin and ask them what "being hungry" means to them. Their version of hungry was quite different than mine.
That'd be a nice problem to have.

What's your definition of normal? Lol
 

Big_Dangerous

Talk Tennis Guru
Follow the trend over time. If you're eating 2000 calories and your BMR should be 2,500 but you're gaining weight, then you're not correctly tracking your calories. Assuming that your tracking is consistent, pick a level and stick to it for a while and see where your weight goes. If it goes up, you might want to lower your calorie target.

Clothing size may be a useful tool as well. If your waist size is shrinking, then that's usually a good thing.
I know right, I think I may be shrinking a bit, because I went for a run/walk the other day and my shorts (size small) kept falling down when I ran more than a block or so. It was kind of annoying, because I pulled the drawstring tight, and they just wouldn't stay up. It was later in the run, so maybe I lost weight in fluids. I know I was out for nearly 3 hours. Left my house around 1:10-1:15 and I did not make it back until 3:45ish.
 
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