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How Much Should I Eat? (Calculating Your Daily Caloric Target)

So, you’re committed to exercising and gettting in shape and all set to dial in your nutrition.  You are even committing to start eating “clean” and healthy foods and leave the fatty pizza and fried foods behind.  Now, how do you figure out how much “clean” food you need to eat?  Well, you are going to need a calculator for this one, but I promise it is worth figuring out if you want REAL results.

The original P90x nutrition guide had a fairly straightforward formula for calculating your daily caloric target.  On the other hand, the P90x2 guide has taken the same formula and added a few more options.  I like the P90x2 guide because it is more detailed.  So, get your calculator out and sharpen your pencil because in a few simple steps you’ll know exactly how the pros go about calculating their daily caloric targets.


STEP 1. Calculate your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate)

Your Body Weight  x  10  = RMR (in calories)


STEP 2. Calculate your DAB (Daily Activity Burn)

Your RMR  x  20% = Daily Activity Burn (20% is moderately active, use 10% if sedentary and 30% if you are very active)


STEP 3. Calculate your DE (Daily Exercise)

It depends on your program, but P90x uses an average of 600 calories per workout.  However, the P90x2 guide uses an average of 650 calories per workout.


STEP 4. Calculate Your CD (Calorie Deficit) or CS (Calorie Surplus)

There are approximately 3,500 calories in a pound. If you want to lose a pound a week, subtract 500 calories a day (3,500 calories a week).  If you want to gain a pound a week, add 500 calories a day (3,500 calories a week).


STEP 5. Calculate Your DCT (Daily Caloric Target)

Now put it all together.

RMR  +  DAB + DE  +/- CS/CD  = DCT


Let’s use Coach Fred as an example.  Let’s make 2 scenarios with “fat” Fred and the new improved “fit” Fred.


On day 1 of P90x, I weighed 275 lbs.  Using the DCT formula, I get:

RMR  +  DAB + DE  +/- CS/CD  = DCT

2750  +  550  + 600  – 500  =  3,400 Daily Caloric Target

That means if I consumed approximately 3,400 calories a day, I would lose approximately 1 pound a week.  For my 1st round I lost 22 lbs. in 90 days.  For Round 2, I used a 1900 calorie plan to get EXTREME results and I lost an additional 55 lbs. in only 3 months!  Click here to see my post on my 1900 Fat Shredder Diet for details on what I ate.  Also, click here for my post on “Lose Fat vs. Build Muscle” for simple calorie targets to get results based on gender and height.



I’m on Round 5 of my fitness journey and starting P90x2.  I currently weigh about 185 lbs.  My goal is to put on muscle but not put on bodyfat

RMR  +  DAB + DE  +/- CS/CD  = DCT

1850  +  370  + 650  +  500  =  3,370 Daily Caloric Target

That means if I consume 3,370 calories a day,  I should gain a pound (hopefully muscle) a week.  I am currently experimenting with a 3,000 daily calorie plan, eating “clean” and healthy, and closely monitoring my body fat percentage.

I know all this “math” may seem a bit intimidating at first.  Believe me, it gets easier!  The pros look at their numbers this way and if you are serious about losing weight or gaining mass, then you need to calculate your daily caloric targets.  Be sure to pick a good calorie counter program (there are many free ones out there) and count whatever goes in your mouth.

Hope you enjoyed this little math class.  Here’s to your health!  Keep “bringing it”!








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