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Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate Nutrition Database >Nutrition Dictionary: A Comprehensive Source of Nutritional Terms Calculating Your Basal Metabolic Rate

Understanding Your Caloric Needs

It is essential that you work as hard on your diet as you do with your training. It has been said before diet is 70% of the bodybuilding process, and with that in mind, being aware of your caloric needs is very important.

Below illustrates a series of steps to be taken if you want to calculate your BMR, or basal metabolic rate, which is the rate in which your body expends calories assuming no physical activity takes place (not likely if you are a bodybuilder, but a good base nonetheless). Keep in mind, the formula can be manipulated to determine how much energy you expend if taking part in a workout program.

Step 1

For Men:

1 x body weight (kg) x 24 = _________

For Women:

.9 x body weight (kg) x 24 = _________

(1 kg = 2.22 lbs)

Step 2

In this step, multiply the result from step 1 by the coefficient in the right column which corresponds to your body fat level.

Table 1

Percent Body Fat                                 Fat Multiplier

Men 10 to 14%, Women 14 to 18%:      1.0

Men 14 to 20%, Women 18 to 28%:      0.95

Men 20 to 28%, Women 28 to 38%:      0.90

Men over 28%, Women over 38%:       0.85

Step 3

Now you've calculated your BMR, but remember, your BMR is the rate at which your body expends energy assuming no physical activity throughout the day, which is pretty unlikely if you are a bodybuilder. Now it's time to factor in your activity level to achieve a more accurate number of your calorie expenditure. The next step involves finding out which category applies to you in the list below, and multiply your daily BMR by the number on the left of that category.

Daily Activity Levels:

Couch Potato range:

1.30 (130%) = Very Light: Sitting, studying, talking, little walking or other activities through out the day 1.55 (155%) = Light: Typing, teaching, lab/shop work, some walking throughout the day

Average Fit Individual:

1.55 (155%) = Light: Light activities such as walking.

1.65 (165%) = Moderate: Walking, jogging, light cycling or swimming.

The Average Athlete or Hard Daily Training Range:

1.80 (180%) = Heavy: Mountain climbing, or sports such as football or hockey.

2.00 (200%) = Very Heavy: Moderate to heavy activity, including 2 hours or more of intense weight training per day.

Determining Proper Ratios of Macronutrients

Now we want to find out how much of each macronutrient to consume daily: Carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Table 2

Calories per gram of the three macro nutrients:

Protein: 4 calories per gram

Carbohydrates: 4 calories per gram

Fat: 9 calories per gram


We will begin with protein requirements. It is now fairly common knowledge that active people need more protein than the RDA, but just how much is needed? Take a look at the following chart to determine how much protein is required for different categories of people.

Table 3

Protein Requirements in Grams per Pound of Body Weight per Day

Sedentary Adult: 0.40

Adult Recreational Exerciser: 0.75

Adult Heavy Athlete: 0.90

Adult "Bulking": 0.90

Adult "Cutting": 1.00

Teenage Athlete: 1.00


Generally speaking, the average bodybuilder should try to keep calories directly from fat limited to 15 - 25 percent of the total intake.

As always, contact me if you need any assistance in calculating your BMR, or if you have any other questions or comments.


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