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What are calories and how many should you consume?

Calories are something you may hear a lot of these days, but don’t quite understand what they are, or even how many you should be consuming?

Firstly, what are calories?

Calories are a form of fuel which your body uses, just like petrol is to a car.

Calories are broken down into 3 main sections called macros, these are Protein, Fats and Carbohydrates. Each macro contains a different number of calories (fuel) per 1 gram in weight

They are as shown:

  • 1 gram of Protein = 4 calories
  • 1 gram of Fat = 9 calories
  • 1 gram of Carbohydrates = 4 calories

Now that we know what a calorie is, how many should we consume in a day?


It is said that the average amount for a male is 2,500cal and 2000cal for a female, but the truth is it’s not quite that simple. It would be great if I could just give you the magic number, but there are lots of variables that come into play.

What you need to know…

To start with what’s your goal – To put on weight/muscle or lose weight/body fat?

To be able to do either, you need to work out your (TDEE) Totally Daily Energy Expenditure. If you are not sure what this is, then check out my article on it. CLICK HERE

In order for you to put on weight you need to be in what’s called a surplus, which means consuming more calories than your body needs. To lose weight/reduce body fat, you need to be in a deficit, which means consuming less than your body needs.

You only need to set yourself a few hundred calories in deficit if trying to lose weight and then slowly decrease over the weeks/months. If you reduce too quickly it will be unsustainable and you’ll struggle to stick or it or hit a plateau. Conversely when gaining muscle, you don’t want to be in too much of a surplus otherwise you’ll be putting on a lot of excess body fat.

If you struggle with any of this, I can take the headache away. For my clients I work out the exact amount of calories they need to consume in relation to their goals as well as the exact macros (protein, fats & carbs).