How to work out maintenance calories UK

How to work out maintenance calories UK - main image

How many calories do you need to remain the same weight you are now?

Everything needs maintenance. Things don’t just stay the way they are forever, independent of what happens. You need to pay attention to what you do – or don’t do – to something in order to make sure that it stays just the way you like it.

Have you got your body looking and feeling exactly how you want it? Maybe you’re interested in losing weight, so you want to know the maximum amount of calories you can eat in a day?

Your individual goals, as well as your height, current weight, gender, and age all affect the maximum number of calories you need to consume to maintain your current weight and avoid weight gain.

Calculating maintenance calories

To calculate your maintenance calories, you need to work out two things: your basal metabolic rate and your total daily energy expenditure. Don’t worry, there are many calorie calculator sites on the internet – the Mayo Clinic has a good one.

How do these calorie calculators work out maintenance calories? Well, according to LiveStrong, there are several different equations that will help you to calculate maintenance calories:

  • Revised Harris-Benedict BMR Equation =
    • Male: (88.4 + 13.4 x weight) + (4.8 x height) – (5.68 x age)
    • Female: (447.6 + 9.25 x weight) + (3.10 x height) – (4.33 x age)
  • Mifflin-St.Jeor Equation =
    • Male: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age + 5
    • Female: 9.99 x weight + 6.25 x height – 4.92 x age – 161
  • Katch-McArdle (BMR) = 370 + (21.6 x lean body mass (LBM))
  • Cunningham Equation (BMR) = 500 + (22 x LBM)

But what are these calculators actually measuring?

First comes your basal metabolic rate (or resting metabolic rate, as some people call it) – the energy you expend each day without any physical activity. This is around 60-80% of your total daily caloric expenditure. The specific number of calories you need for your basal metabolic rate depends on a person’s:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Body weight
  • Lean body mass levels
  • Body fat levels

Then, you need to factor in the effect of your activity levels. Are you active? You’ll need to eat more calories to maintain your weight. Sedentary? Consume fewer calories. Wanting to lose weight? Consume fewer calories… it’s pretty simple stuff, really.

Finally comes the thermic effect of food. Basically, some food takes more energy to digest than others. This is only a tiny part of the calculation.


So, whether you want to gain weight or you’re interested in weight loss, you can work out your maintenance calories by doing a complicated equation that takes into account a number of personal factors. Or, if you’re more interested in the result than the process, you can just use an online calorie calculator!


How do I work out how many calories I need for weight loss?

You need to eat less than the number of maintenance calories recommended in order to be in a calorie deficit. Just make sure you’re still eating a healthy diet and are getting enough nutrients – too little calories, and you will become unwell.

**Want to learn more? Check out our post “How to live well for less” here!

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