How many calories do I really need


I have gain a few pounds recently…about 10… I want to lose said pounds.

In 2019 I took an assessment at work with a fancy scale that told me my bmr was about 1680 calories.
I’m 5’6 and want to get back to around 150 pounds.

Based on this number I decided to do 1500 calories + whatever I burn on my wo that day.
Today was about 750 calories so that would give me an allowance of about 2250 calories.
So far I have eaten 1500 on pre workout nutrition and breakfast. That leaves me with just 750 calories for the day.

I asked my coach and he called me an idiot for under eating, specially now that I’m ramping up cycling (i have over unders tomorrow and a 3 hr indoor ride Sunday).

The question is, should I follow the bmr + workout calories as a guide or should I do the guide of 2000 calories plus workout a day.

I haven’t found a good answer to which one is the correct measurement…


Is your coach on board with the losing of the weight, or just focussed on the bike fitness?

BMR doesn’t take account of general activity. My n=1 is that I’d use a calculator such as Accurate Calorie Calculator - Scooby's Home Workouts and get an idea of TDEE before exercise.

Again n=1, I tried to achieve some deficit from diet and some from exercise. I was more focussed on losing weight, so aimed for 500 from diet, 500 from exercise. That definitely held back performance and I didn’t progress even with w/kg improvement. I’d aim much lower now if I could go back and start over, probably percentage based deficits rather than absolute.

The other thing you could do is time “normal” food around the exercise. A third n=1, I don’t use recovery shakes, as I have (oatmeal and protein) breakfast straight after showering after my morning workouts.

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Bmr doesn’t include any activity. It’s just to live. So yeah you need to add some calories. For example my bmr is 1800 and I go off a base of 2500 calories a day plus workout calories. So if I burn 1000 on the bike that puts my at 3500 as break even. If I want to lose a pound a week I need to be at 3500 deficit a week or 700 a day.

Of course if u go this route u have to count all calories and be accurate. Then make adjustments if needed. If u notice your still gaining losing to much then adjust the base calories a wither way. Hope this makes since


My BMR is about 1650 add in living / working (mainly at desk) that takes me to a base of 2200 - 2400.

Excerise typically add another 800 to 1500 kcal.
So basically ~3000 to 3500 kcal a day and I stay the same weight or lose slightly.

I guess you would be looking at about 2200 - 2400 plus excerise.

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BMR + workout is a little on the low side. Even with a sedentary job most TDEE (total daily energy expenditure) calculations put my maintenance calories around 120% - 123% of BMR. Several years ago when I dropped from 163 - 142lbs (at 5’9"), I tracked calories and set a target of (TDEE + cycling cals burned - 500.). I just slowly peeled off weight for 3-4 months and never felt deprived or had issues completing TR workouts. That started before I started TR and but also overlapped SSBI/II. I did notice my level of hunger increased during Sustained Power Build, presumably due to the high intensity intervals, but at that point I was transitioning to maintenance.

Since them have switched to focus on high volume / low calorie dense foods and have realized that it would have made the process even easier. When I do long rides on weekends its hard to stuff enough calories in my face because I just feel too full all the time.

This is the TDEE calculator I use: When you use the calculator you will want to select sedentary / no exercise because you will be adding those calories in. If you choose one of the exercise options, they account for exercise related calorie burn, so you’ll essentially be double-counting calories burned from the calculator and from your power meter.

What is the timing of breakfast, pre-workout food and your workout? And how much are you taking for each? That sounds like a lot of food to cram in before hopping on the bike.


Interesting… My coach is on board with losing s bit of weight… But not by eating just 2200 cals a day…

I usually have about 450 calories pre workouts. And nothing else if it’s a 60 minutes or less…

If it’s longer then I’ll have gu and roctane as needed

I’ll guess I set calories to 2000 plus workout workout calories… And go from there

Edit… This is what the calculator told me…

Not a fan of the daily deficit. I fear the body will adapt to the caloric restriction.

I much prefer to break even most days and plan a deficit 1-2X per week via long Z2 rides, 3+ hours, up to 6 hours. I still fuel these rides with about 250 kcals/hr, but I’m burning 600/hr, and I eat normally for the rest of the day.

As long as you’re eating good foods, as a cyclist you should be able to lose weight without ever feeling hungry.


I’ve been looking at this recently. I run and ride consistently so i have taken the approach that i have to eat lots to keep fuelled. But I have recently got a couple of Kg overweight though and it showed. I’ve done some reading and decided to give up grains and dairy for a while

Have a listen to this podcast: Nutrition: Sugar, Wheat, Paleo, and Performance - Fast Talk Laboratories

I re-signed up to MyFitnessPal to track all of my inputs and to tell me how much i have left to eat for that day. It also adds in the workout calories i’ve just burned and adjusts automatically. In 2 weeks i am back to where i want to be, feeling great and hitting my numbers again. I’ve replaced the empty calories of bread and everything else i was loading up on and now have to eat loads of fruit and veg to get the numbers in. It’s been a real success so far: Still eating lots, getting faster, recovering better, losing weight.


Is this good?

Asking for a friend


I’m 5-10” 39, 153lbs, the tdee tells me 1949 to maintain, and MyFitnessPal gives me 2030. I think for your build if you want to lose a lb a week, you’ll need to be more in the 1500 calorie range as your base(that 1890 number looks about right to me).

My personal experience having lost 29, 28 and 22 lbs, with a bit of rebound each time, but also going from 212 to 153 lbs over 7 years.

I used MyFitnessPal to set my maintenance calories, and checked it against the tdee calculator mentioned in this thread. I choose sedentary for activity level because it’s pretty true, outside of the cycling calories I’m not doing much else. Then cut 500 a day. Which is 2030-500=1530 for me and it has come within close to 1 lb a week in my 80 lbs of weight loss.

For all my cycling I find the power meter whether through TR or Garmin runs a bit lower than HR based calorie calculation and a lot lower than Wahoo’s HR based calories. I use the Wahoo App with the Tickr for any mtb stuff(without a power meter there) and notice it’s probably 25% higher than Garmin. I always adjust down if using Wahoo’s HR output.

I find that managing on a 500 calorie deficit is doable, but I need to plan my day, prefuel and fuel sensibly, and then taper out the day. The worst days are the rest days, by far. Which luckily I only have one per week. On that day I usually give myself a bit of flexibility to eat.

It’s definitely a balance between restricting for weight loss and compromising ability to perform and gain.

On the performance end I’ve managed to build a bit of FTP, currently around 4.3w/kg while cutting calories. On MV plus 1 hr endurance.

In my experience, setting outcome and process goals, understanding realistically how long the process will take, being honest with myself, meticulous and scientific in my approach was helpful.

Good luck!


After talking over with my coach, we settle for 2100c intake.
His rational is that although the calculator use sedentary, we are technically not sedentary in the true form. We have more muscles that most based on the amount of exercise we do. So even tho we seat most of the day the muscles are still working. So a plus 300 for that seems sensible.

Si plan is 2100 plus so calories from TR on the bike, or garmin when running.

We will try this and see where we go and we will re evaluate in a few weeks .

Ultimately all of the calculators and trackers are theoretical. Useful for a starting point but not necessarily accurate due to individual metabolisms, variations in background activity, differences in muscle mass, inaccuracy of food labels and measurements, etc. All you can do is get a starting point and try it for a few weeks to see how you look, feel, and perform. If you aren’t dropping weight but training and recovery are okay then reduce calories. If you are dropping weight fast but feel and perform miserable then increase calories. Eventually hopefully you can dial in something reasonable.

You will have to find a balance based on your current goals. If you have a coach right now you are likely looking to maximize performance which would indicate more daily calories and a lower deficit but only time and experience will allow you to determine where the balance works for you.


I have been using carbon diet coach as a tracker and coach to adjust macros and kcals based on my goals. $10 a month and weekly check ins make it a solid tool I think. I have been enjoying it.

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As someone said on another thread, always be chowing!


That looks much healthier, yet less tasty…

I wish I liked broccoli


One of the problems in trying to match calories in with calories out is the accuracy of the figures. As far as the UK is concerned the nutritional information is only for average values and should not mislead. (as if any large food manufacturer would try to mislead the public). There are allowed tolerances published on an individual nutrient, can be be +/- 20%, I don’t know about total calories though. Also,

the calorie calculation given on any website from the power output depends on an individuals personal efficiency and typically can vary I think from 20 - 25%.


Trevor Connor really lets himself down when it comes to nutrition. Pseudoscience, quack BS. Really irresponsible on his part.

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This is the most important part of answering your question. In my opinion the best approach is to set a number, try it for a couple weeks, and then adjust up or down 100 calories. Repeat until you find a place where you are able to meet your fitness goals and have a sustainable path towards your desired weight

I laughed


Subway. :fish::roll_eyes:

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So what are you paying the coach for? :sweat_smile:

He’s right that reducing intake as you increase workload isn’t ideal but you know. Lots of us do it.

I think the first step is just to track eating, which has the knock on effect of reducing unthinking eating. I’m just doing a one week monitoring and I’ve already lost weight despite not actually constraining my eating.

So that’s what I would recommend just track your eating for a week, try to eat more or less without constraints and see what you’ve got before making any changes.