Your Guide To Body Transformations Part 1: Calories


Hello there! To celebrate the ‘grand re-opening’ of my little blog I thought I would create a 5 part series breaking down the key components of a killer body transformation. So, over the next 5 days I will share each step in a fully detailed format, showing you what goes through my mind when helping someone go from point A to point B. So, lets start with step 1, and depending on your goal, the most crucial step. Calories.

But what are calories? Well… Energy. That’s all. Just energy. Think of one calorie as one unit of energy, which actually equals 1000 kcals, short for kilocalories. Already I can see where the confusion begins. Calories, kcals, whats the difference? Honestly, kcals are just Calories multiplied by a thousand but for the purpose of this blog however, a no bullshit easy to read guide to health and fitness, we’ll refer to all caloric energy as just calories.

But what does this mean for body composition goals? Such as fat loss or weight gain? Managing energy! Or rather, supplying your body with sufficient calories that are suited to your goals. Lets say you want to embark on a fat loss phase and lose one pound/.5kg per week. We would need to create a simple energy deficit of 500 calories through either food or activity. We will cover exercise in more detail in a later blog post this week so fear not. Side note, a pound of fat is equated to 3500 calories. So to lose one pound a week you’d eat 500 calories less per day to lose weight.

Now, you may have heard of ‘energy equation’ or ‘energy balance’ and this is the premise for all body related goals. Food is energy. Eat too little, we lose weight because our body is starved of energy and we’ll source it else where. Eat too much and our bodies will store the excess as fat! Did you know just an extra 100 calories per day over maintenance will result in 10lbs of weight gain over the span of a year? Scary, if that’s not your goal.

So, lets look at two hypothetical clients who want to lose and gain weight and how I can prescribe calorie intakes suited to their respective goals.

We’ll start with Bob. Bob is a 23-year-old office worker. He’s pretty sedentary for the most part besides working out 4 days per week. He came to me at 170lbs and wants to lose 10lbs. Remember, having a goal in mind is so crucial to your success. Cement in your mind what you want to achieve and then go for it!

Side note, I always assess my client’s overall goal fat loss based on their weight and use more intricate calculations to prescribe calorie and macro goals. This means I can fully map out predicted fat loss and body fat. Today we’ll just use the basic example above. 

So, how do we figure out Bob’s and, if you’re following, your calories? Easy. We’ll use the age-old method of bodyweight multiplied by 13-15 to find his maintenance. That is, the calories required to maintain his current condition. So, use 13 if you’re sedentary, 14 if you’re slightly active and 15 if you’re very active. Bob is sedentary but works out 4 times per week so we’ll use the middle ground and shoot for 14.

170 * 14 = 2380 calories.

Now, to find Bob’s daily energy deficit calories to lose around 1lbs per week we’ll simply subtract 500 calories per day. Remember, 500 * 7 = 3500 = one pound of fat.

2380 – 500 = 1800 calories.

So, we’ve calculated Bob must eat 1800 calories to lose one pound of fat per week. Alternatively Bob could eat 2000 calories and burn 300 per day through being more active to create the same energy deficit but again, we’ll cover that in a later blog post.

Now, Bob is just one of two examples. Meet Kevin. He came to because he wants to add some mass!

Just for background information, Kevin came to me at 130lbs, which is fairly light but thats okay. He tells me he wants to add some muscle mass but hasn’t worked out since college nor does he track his food intake. So lets look at how Kevin, a beginner, can start adding weight. 

In the fitness community, especially the ‘evidence based’ fitness community, a term I’m starting to dislike, there is a rough guide of how much weight a beginner, intermediate and advanced lifter can gain. The model I like most is by Lyle McDonald. It looks a little like this.


Rate of Muscle Gain (Men)

Rate of Muscle Gain (Women)


1/1.5% total body weight/month

.5/.75% total body weight/month


.5/1% total body weight/month

.25/.5 total body weight/month


.25/.5% total body weight/month

.125/.25 total body weight/month

As we know, Kevin is a complete beginner, therefore I’m comfortable with him adding 1.5% of his body weight per month. at 130lbs thats 1.95lbs per month. If we work together for 3 months thats around 6lbs of muscle gain at least. I say at least because invariably he will have his ‘noob gains’ to milk as well as his own genetic muscle-building capabilities. The above are just guidelines. 

Side note, again. 6lbs may not seem like much however we live in a world where magazines advertise FALSE GOODS. 21 inch arms in 7 days? Give me a damn break. However, those 6lbs can be added in the right places to create a certain look for both men and woman. I.e shoulders and glutes.

So how do we breakdown 1.95lbs to calories needed per day? Like this :

1.95 * 3500 = 6825 / 30 = 227 calories.

Thats an extra 227 calories per day to gain 1.95 per month.

So, lets figure out Kevin’s maintenance calories, add his surplus calories and see how many he needs to roughly gain weight.

130 * 15 = 1950 + 227 = 2177 calories.

Thats 2177 calories per day to gain weight. Now, if you’ve been following along and ‘plugging’ in your own numbers then you may have way more calories than Bob and Kevin but each person is unique and individual, just like your momma says. But every person will have different requirements. There is no ‘one size fits all’!

Now, how I’ll track my clients progress we’ll be discussed later in the week but just know if you want to work with me I will be with you every step of the way, week to week, keeping a stern eye on your progress. If you pay good money yet ass around than thats on you but just know, I want you to succeed. Anyway, lets wrap this bad boy up.

As you can see, losing weight or gaining weight is what I like to call a ‘numbers game’. Hopefully you’ve followed along and found your own calories as a starting point. If you need a quick refresher, use the calculations below.

Fat Loss

  • Bodyweight in pounds * 15 – 500 = fat loss calories

Muscle Building

  • Bodyweight * lifting experience * 3500 ÷ 30 + bodyweight * 15


Later in the week we’ll discuss how I can track your progress to determine if you need more and less calories!

But I shall see you tomorrow with Part 2 – Macronutrients.



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