Recommended Daily Calorie Intake

How Many Calories for Fat Loss & Muscle Gain?

Surely you’re familiar with calories in vs calories out. Or the idea of balancing daily calorie intake with calories burned.

Calorie balance is a simple concept. Why then, do so many people struggle to get fit?

The truth is, figuring out how many calories you need is tricky. It depends on several factors including your goal, activity level, and body composition.

For that reason, I’m going to explain calorie balance in simple terms. So you can find your daily calorie intake and reach your fitness goals.

Why Are Calories So Important?

Many trendy diets are based on cutting carbs or eating only specific foods. Sure, these ideas are fun and easy to understand.

However, calorie balance contributes more to fitness than macros and food choices combined.

You see, calorie balance is like your bank account. What you spend your money on (macros, foods) matters way less than the total amount of money you spend (calories).

To put in another way: You won’t get rich if you don’t understand your account balance. And you won’t get fit if you don’t understand your calorie balance.

Understanding Calories In vs Calories Out

Calories Out

Generally you expend energy in two ways – metabolism and activity.

The energy needed just to stay alive is called BMR (base metabolic rate). Most other energy expenditure is daily activity like walking around or exercising.

All the energy you burn in a days is called TDEE (total daily energy expenditure). Below is how your TDEE might look on days you workout compared to days you don’t

Calories In

Your calorie intake should go up and down with your activity level. In other words, higher on days you workout and lower on days you rest. But the number of calories you eat also depends on your goal.

Based on actual calorie intake data from 1,990 individuals.

Recommended Daily Calorie Intake

Calorie Intake for Fat Loss

When it comes to weight loss, daily calorie intake should be less than calories burned. Also called a calorie deficit.

Calories In < Calories Out = Calorie Deficit

Most often, people choose to reduce ‘calories in’ to create a bigger deficit. However, your metabolism slows down when you consistently undereat.

Why Traditional Calorie Deficit Diets Fail

As a result, you lose muscle and it’s harder to burn fat. To avoid muscle wasting, target calories above BMR but below TDEE. That way you feed your metabolism yet create a deficit for sustainable fat loss.

daily calorie intake for fat loss

Another way to create a bigger deficit is by increasing ‘calories out’. In other words, you increase exercise and activity.

As you can see, you create a larger calorie deficit when you exercise. And that allows you to eat a little more. Thereby maximizing fat loss while fueling your metabolism.

Find Your Personal Calorie Deficit for Fat Loss

Calorie Intake for Muscle Gain

For muscle gain, daily calorie intake should be more than calories burned. Also called a calorie surplus.

Calories In > Calories Out = Calorie Surplus

In order to create this surplus, you have to increase ‘calories in’ by eating more. But it’s not always that simple.

daily calorie intake for muscle gain

If you struggle to gain weight, most likely you still aren’t eating enough. Even if you feel full all the time.

In that case, it can be necessary to reduce ‘calories out’ by being less active. Of course, you need to do resistance training workouts. But cut back on cardio and other physical activity if necessary.

Find Your Personal Calorie Surplus for Muscle Gain

Maintenance Calorie Intake

In order to maintain your weight, daily calorie intake should be about the same as calories burned. Most often the goal is actually to lose fat and increase muscle simultaneously. Also called body recomposition.

Calories In ≈ Calories Out = Recomposition

For body recomposition, your calorie intake may be slightly more or less than calories burned. It depends on your current body composition.

daily calorie intake for recomposition

For example, you should be in a slight deficit if you have a high body fat percentage. So you prioritize fat loss without losing lean mass.

On the other hand, you should be in a slight surplus if you have a low body fat percentage. That way you prioritize increasing lean mass without adding fat.

How To Know If Body Recomposition Is The Right Goal For You

Tracking Calorie Intake

As mentioned earlier, you must track calories to succeed on a diet. Just as you have to track your finances in order to adhere to a budget.

While you could tally up the calories in the food you eat, I recommend counting macros instead. Usually what you’re counting is grams.

Carbs, fat, and protein have a constant number of calories per gram. So by tracking macros, you also control your calorie intake.

How to Count Macros in 3 Simple Steps

Get Fit Without Counting Calories or Macros

I realize that counting calories is a pain. In fact, 5 minutes a day counting calories adds up to over 30 hours a year!

The solution is a Custom Meal Plan that takes care of everything for you.

daily calorie intake meal plan
  • Personalized calorie intake based on your activity level and goal

  • Daily menu with multiple options for each meal

  • Mobile-friendly grocery list to make shopping easy

  • Custom recipes that fit your calories and macros – no counting necessary!

Customize Your Plan

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