Eating a Carnivore diet meal plan doesn’t require calculating calories or macronutrients (macros). In fact, most Carnivores just eat when hungry and stop eating when satiated but not overstuffed. However, there are a few situations where calorie and macro counting may be necessary.
If you’re a new Carnivore coming from a high calorie diet filled with carbohydrates and sugary foods, you may find calculating calories and macros beneficial – especially if you have a difficult time determining fullness or satiation. But, newbies aren’t the only ones who may need to have their calories and macros defined. If you’re a long-term Carnivore with a goal of losing or gaining weight, you may also find your specific nutrition intake to be very helpful, particularly when your objectives aren’t being met. Then again, curiosity may just peak your interest in knowing what you’re taking into your body.
How to Calculate Calories to Maintain Weight
There are many mathematical formulas that can be used to determine your daily caloric needs. Two of my favorites – and probably the most accurate – are the Harris-Benedict and Katch-McArdle formulas which consider several personal factors in determining your correct calories including your gender, weight, height, age, activity level, and more.
Based on the Harris-Benedict formula, I’ve successfully put together a quicker method that I’ve successfully used with my clients throughout the years. To simply calculate your daily caloric needs, you’ll need to know your total body weight and activity factor which is below. Also, please keep in mind that this quick and easy formula works best if you’re not significantly overweight (350+ pounds for women and 400+ pounds for men).
Pick your activity factor based on your typical daily lifestyle. You’ll then need to multiply your weight poundage by this factor of 10 to 13.5. An example is also provided.
- 10 = Sedentary… little to no exercise; confined to bed
- 11 = Very light activity… mostly sitting; desk job
- 12.5 = Light activity… exercise or sports 1 to 3 days per week.
- 13.5 = Moderate activity… exercise or sports 3 to 5 days per week
Dr. Campbell’s Example & Formula for Maintenance Calories
- Weight is 190 pounds
- Lightly active
- Body Weight (190) x Activity Factor (11) = Daily Maintenance Calories (2,090)
How to Calculate Your Calories for Weight Loss
If you need to lose weight, you’ll add a calorie deficit to your maintenance calories. Most dieters can safely use a deficit of 20 to 25 percent. For aggressive dieters, 30 percent may be used. If you do use this higher deficit, please be sure to counter it with at least one higher calorie or maintenance day per week. The body adapts quickly to the calories you’re feeding it. The bigger the deficit, the higher the risk is of becoming nutrient deficient and lowering metabolic rate. Plus, your body may have a more difficult time losing weight in the future.
Dr. Campbell’s Formula for Weight Loss Calories
- Maintenance Calories (2,090) – 25% (522.5) = Daily Weight Loss Calories (1,567.5)
If you have very stubborn body fat that just won’t budge after using your multiplier after four weeks, you may calculate a new intake by subtracting another 100 calories. Use this new calorie intake for two weeks. If you still haven’t lost weight, you may need to include more activity or add another 100 calorie deficit. Assess your progress every two weeks.
How to Calculate Your Calories for Weight Gain
If you’re in need of gaining weight, you’ll need to add a calorie surplus to your maintenance calories. You may want to begin with 15 percent. If you’re not gaining after four weeks, you may want to increase your surplus to 20 percent. Continue adding five percent every two weeks until you’re gaining weight. Then stay with that percentage until you’re within 10 to 15 pounds of your goal weight at which time you’ll need to decrease your calories by five percent every two to four weeks until you reach your final target weight and maintenance calories.
Dr. Campbell’s Formula for Weight Gain Calories
- Maintenance Calories (2,090) + 15% (313.5) = Daily Weight Gain Calories (2,403.5)
How to Determine Protein Intake
To determine macros, you’ll first need to calculate your protein intake by multiplying your lean body mass (LBM) with an appropriate multiplier. But, you’ll first need to know what your LBM is if you don’t have a weight scale or personal trainer to help you determine this. Click here to get your LBM using your gender, age, height, and weight. Once you’ve obtained your LBM, choose your protein factor below to figure your protein grams. You may then calculate your total protein calories and ratio after finding your daily protein grams.
- 0.8 = Sedentary to very lightly active
- 1.0 = Lightly active… exercise or sports 1 to 3 days per week.
- 1.2 = Moderately active… exercise or sports 3 to 5 days per week
- Age is over 14 years
- Height is 5 feet, 6 inches
- Weight is 190 pounds
- LBM is approximately 116 (using the Boer formula)
- Lightly active
- LBM (116) x Protein Factor (1.0) = Protein Needs (116 grams)
- Protein Needs (116 grams) x 4 Calories per 1 Protein Gram = 464 Protein Calories
- Protein Calories (464) ÷ Total Calories (1,567) = 29.6%
How to Determine Fat Intake
Because there are no carbohydrate calories to be determined and you already have your protein calories, you can determine your fat intake easily. All you have to do is subtract your protein calories from your total calorie needs.
- Total Calories (1,567) – Protein Calories (464) = Fat Calories (1,103)
- Fat Calories (1,103) ÷ 9 Calories per 1 Fat Gram = Fat Grams (122.6)
- Fat Calories (1,103) ÷ Total Calories (1,567) = Fat Percentage (70.4%)
Though calorie and macro calculations aren’t necessary for the Carnivore diet meal plan, it may be necessary in special situations. Once you’ve calculated your total calories and lean body mass, you may determine your protein and fat ratio. Though the ratio won’t configure carbohydrates on this diet plan, you may still get some residual calories from them – especially if you eat dairy or seafood. However, there is no need to be concerned with this minuscule figure.
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