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How Many Calories Do I Need?

Hands down, if you’re subjecting yourself to the wonders of P90X, Insanity or Turbofire and want real, dramatic change you MUST get your nutrition dialed in to see the changes that sold you on the program in the first place. Beachbody programs each come with their own high-fivin’, recipe packed, detail oriented nutrition guides. Some are detailed, some are a little more broad but all are custom tailored to give you the best results for your program.

Not that I’m yelling or anything but…READ THEM!!

That said, I get it. I know there’s some of you who may get a little intimidated with the guides or would prefer something a little more custom. I’m the same way. I talk about HOW to track your food here … but what about knowing how much food you should be eating in the first place to reach your goals of ripped, adding muscle or toning up and slimming down?

Know How Many Calories You Need

This works on a scale. The idea behind knowing how many calories you need is based around the idea that a calorie deficit melts fat, a calorie maintenance keeps you at weight and a calorie surplus helps you add weight and build muscle (IE- Body Beast). You can ballpark your calorie needs if you have your age, weight and height. Once you have those, visit the link below and enter your information. The calculator you’ll find via the link below determines how many calories you need just to live and function normally (this is technically called your BMR: Basal Metabolic Rate). We’ll add your exercise level after that:

Get your daily caloric needs here.

I’ll wait…

OK, got it? Now you’ll want to multiply the number you got from the calculator by 1.6. This gives you a happy medium calorie intake if you’re doing between 5-6 workouts a week (which most Beachbody programs follow). If you want to be very specific, you can use the Harris Benedict Equation to narrow it down here. I’ve found 1.6 works for most people doing Beachbody programs.

EXAMPLE: I need roughly 1893 calories a day just to operate normally. I work out with intensity 5-6 days a week, so I multiply 1893 by 1.6. That gives me 3028 calories as my MAINTENANCE intake. IE- when exercising daily, I need 3028 calories to maintain my current weight.

Targeting Fat- Create A Deficit

This is where most people line up for the fat torching power of a calorie deficit. If you want to lose weight, take 500-1000 calories off your maintenance calorie number you got by multiplying your BMR by 1.6 above. So, using my example above, if I wanted to lose some fat and rip up, I’d subtract 500-1000 calories for a daily calorie intake of anywhere from 2000-2500 calories.

As a note, 1000 is pretty dramatic (usually equates to about 2 lbs. fat loss a week… but this is ballpark- not a set figure… your body isn’t an engineering calculator after all) and may backfire in the long term as metabolism may slow. 700-500 (if weight loss is your goal) is probably a less dramatic number and closer to what I’d recommend.  That’s “technically” 1-1.5 lbs. fat torched a week. Still, don’t live or die by that 1-2lb. weight loss promise. Scales are finicky and not a great indicator of progress. Just keep in mind: you’re trying to lose fat, not weight.

Targeting Growth- Go Surplus

This is more in line for those looking to gain weight with a mass building program like Body Beast or P90X Mass. We’ll go opposite of a calorie deficit, so we’re going for a surplus. Where a deficit you’ll subtract 500-1000 calories, if you’re looking to gain mass, you’ll add 500-1000. I usually recommend starting conservatively unless you don’t care about putting on weight- if you just want mass, go crazy. But for those who want to put on mass while keeping body fat down, I’d say start at 500, go for a couple weeks, see where you’re at and then add if necessary from there.

Now… Eat Clean!

Calories in calories out is basic. What matters as well is the food you eat. You could eat Snickers Candy bars all day and hit your calories… but you’d also feel like a walking garbage truck and the nutrition you need as a whole just wouldn’t be there. I don’t care how many people say they’re hitting their calories– if they’re not the right calories, your results won’t be as good, definition won’t be as tight. I see it time after time- your body needs clean and focused nutrition… and it will reward you if you provide it.

This is where you really want to get your macros (basically, fats, carbs and proteins) right– IE, how much of the types of food you eat. For the most part, I recommend a 40/40/20 split. Sounds all “mathematical” but it’s just this: 40% of your diet is from protein, 40% is from carbs and 20% from fat. That’s basically a serving of protein, a serving of complex carb with every meal.

If you’re eating clean at a deficit like this, you’ll lose weight. If you’re at a surplus, your fat gain will be minimal. And the best part? You just plug that food into your tracking until you hot that 40/40/20 goal up to your calorie needs every day. Easy.

So what’s clean? I can give you a hint– it’s not fast food. Check out the Michi Ladder guide here where it’s all laid out in detail.

For a SUPER-HYPER-MAJOR DETAILED breakdown based on your goals, check out the Body-Changing Blueprint in the Success Center or just click here. The Blueprint absolutely gives you the guideline you need to reach your goals.

The Wrap-Up (IE- Now You Know… And Knowing is Half The Battle)

When it’s all said and done, this isn’t tough. It just requires a little more focused effort that becomes second nature after a little practice. Here’s what you need:

Knowing your calorie needs will give you greater control over your goals and allow you to understand how you’re changing your body with your fitness program.Of course, I’m here all day long to help. you’re not in this alone and I’ve spent countless hours helping people get dialed in. I’m all about it if you need me.

Let’s get you the support you need through making me your Beachbody Coach right here. For more genuine help with P90X or Insanity from a P90X Certified Coach , email me here or at

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3 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. Crochi says:

    Amazing tips! Thank you a lot!

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