caloriesCalories, calories, calories!  Everyone is always talking about counting calories,cutting calories, calories this!  Calories that!

For people who are out there just starting a workout plan to lose weight or to build muscle, calories can surely throw a hook at them to knock them on their butts, and leave them dazed and confused.

In this article I’m going to explain what calories are and the importance of calories when it comes to trying to gain, lose, or maintain a healthy body weight.

First of all, what is a calorie?  Simply put, calories are a source of fuel for the body.  Everyday, our bodies expend a certain amount of energy and this energy is derived from the calories that we consume through our diet.  Factors which affect the rate of calories burned include our activity level, body temperature, body type, and the amount of lean muscle mass we possess.  Other calories are burned through simple body tasks such as breathing, digestion, organ functions, etc, but the calories burned are very minimal.

Let’s focus on the muscle building aspect when it comes to calories.

In order to gain muscular weight, you must know importance of calories and what affects it has on the body. To gain muscle size and strength, you must consume more calories than your body burns.  Calories are very simple:  if you burn off more calories then you consume, you will lose body weight.  If you consume the same amount of calories you burn, your body weight will stay the same.  So obviously in order to gain muscular body weight, your caloric intake must exceed the amount of calories you burn in one day.

But keep in mind, this does not mean that you can eat whatever the  heck you want and expect to gain muscle.  Sure, you’ll put on weight, but if you eat potato chips, pizza, junk food, you’ll be packing on a lot of pounds, but the majority of the weight will be fat and not muscle mass.

So, how many calories should you consume each day to gain, lose, or maintain body weight?

The most simple formula to calculate how many calories you must consume per day is to take your body weight and multiply by 17, and then multiply the body weight by 20.  So for example:

Jim weighs 150 lbs, he should take his body weight and multiply by 17 first which equals 2550.  Then multiply the body weight (150 lbs)  by 20 which is 3000.  So his daily caloric intake should be anywhere in between 2550 to 3000calories.

To lose weight, you should eat anywhere between 300 to 500 less than your first total (I.e: 150lbs x 17 = 2550 -[300 to 500]), and to gain weight you should eat 300 to 500 more than your second total (150 lbs x 20 = 3000 + [300 to 500]).

It’s really that simple!  The only draw back to this simple calculation is that it is not completely accurate and does not take into account of your lean body mass, height, sex, or activity level.  It’s just a guide line to provide some idea on where to start, whether it is to gain or to lose weight.  There are far more accurate calorie formulas that help give you a more in depth calorie consumption rate, but this simple one should work for most people with average body types.

Hopefully, now you have a better understanding with why our weights fluctuate with different caloric intake!

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John considers himself as a fitness enthusiast who loves to do anything to keep the body in peak physical performance (much like a highly tuned machine). He mainly focuses on sports nutrition and supplement research, but is also highly knowledgeable in relation to muscle growth and fat loss. He's helped numerous people over the years achieve the body that they've always wanted and hopes his information will guide you to the goals you want.

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