Question:

I’m a 49-year-old male, 5’ 11” in height and 188 lbs.  My body fat was measured at 30%. I do strength training 3 to 4 times a week. My goal is to reduce my weight (maybe another 10 lbs.), reduce my body fat percentage, and increase my muscle mass. How many calories should I be eating a day and how much protein should I be consuming? 

– Morrie B.

Answer:

A rough estimate of your energy and protein needs, given the anthropometrics and goals you provided, are 2,200-2,600 calories and 135-162 grams of protein daily. These are derived from the most common equations for predicting energy needs and setting protein at 25% calories.    

Your actual energy requirement could vary greatly since genetics, metabolism and individual biochemistry dictate how many calories you truly use. Your body has adapted to the way you eat over the last few decades so it’s possible you maintain weight currently at 2,000 calories or 3,000 calories. Thus, moving toward 2,500 could possibly be an unintended reduction or an increase. 

It’s best to determine how much you are currently consuming by tracking intake over several days and using a diet analysis program to calculate the calories and grams of protein for you. Then you can evaluate if you need to increase/decrease either component. Know that you can only effectively use a maximum of 2 grams protein per kilogram body weight (your 85.5 kg means 170 grams of protein) daily.  

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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