Google “calorie calculator” and you’ll get overwhelmed with thousands of resources giving you a different number every single time. Why is it so hard to figure out how many calories you should eat??
The answer is that there are just too many variables that affect your actual caloric needs, and no calculator can figure those out for you. That’s why when someone asks me where they should start, this is the advice I give them. You don’t need to rely on insane formulas!
I think the best place to start is right where you are. If you’ve been eating 2500 calories every day and the calculator tells you that you should eat 1500 calories, that’s a huge leap to take! Wouldn’t it make more sense to start at the 2500 calories?
Simply start tracking your calories tomorrow. Eat exactly the way you always do, without changing anything (trying to suddenly eat differently will only mess you up). Download MyFitnessPal to help track everything you eat for the next week.
Once the week is over, find your average daily calories. One day you might eat 1800 calories, another 2300 calories, so the average will give you the most accurate picture of what you regularly consume day-to-day.
That’s the number I tell people to use to start, because that’s what your body has gotten accustomed to consuming. If your goal is weight loss, I suggest cutting 200 calories off of that number to start. It can be more, it can be less, but that’s usually the number I start with. Eat at that level for 2-4 weeks, assess your progress, and cut 100-200 calories more at that point if needed. Slow progress is sustainable progress!
This method, like any other, isn’t universal. If you have been severely under-eating or over-eating, I would suggest working one-on-one with a professional.
Figuring out your macro goals is the next level, but if your calories aren’t in check, you’ll never reach your goals. Remember, calories in vs calories out is always rule #1. Macros are secondary to calories, so figure out your calories first!