Caloric Expenditure Guidelines for Today's Athlete

If you have read any of my earlier posts, you understand how critical nutrition is in the optimal performance spectrum.  If you want to reap the benefits of your training, you must fuel your body with the correct amount of calories.  Parents, athletes and coaches always ask me, "how much food should my son or daughter be eating?".  In short, your daily caloric expenditure is the amount of calories you burn performing life's daily tasks (workouts, games, work, school, etc).  For such an important number, the steps couldn't be any easier.  You will need to do some basic math to find your resting caloric expenditure (RCE), daily activities expenditure (DAE) and workout caloric expenditures (WCE). Once you find these numbers, add them together.  It's that simple!

If you are serious about training, be serious about your nutrition especially your caloric intake.  Below is a step by step process to find your daily caloric expenditure (DCE).  It is important to remember that you must recalculate your expenditure if your workouts, work schedule or game schedule change. As your activity level and workouts change so does your caloric needs!  Only adhering to the following steps once a year is like training with the same workout every session.

1.  First find your Resting Caloric Expenditure (RCE)-

Men:  Body Weight (Lbs.) x 11 calories per pound
Women:  Body Weight (Lbs.) x 10 calories per pound

Example:  RCE for 25o pound man equals 2,750 calories (250 lbs. x 11 calories per lb.)

2.  Second, calculate your Daily Activity Expenditure (DAE)Use the table below and the above RCE figure to find your DAE.

*  DAE has to do with your activity (work) NOT your workouts.

RCE (Above Step 1) x % of RCE (Table Below)= Daily Activity Expenditure (DAE)

Example:  2,750 x .75 (75 % -Very Active) = 2,062 (DCE)

Daily Activity Level % RCE Men % RCE Women


(Sit most of day)

15 % 15 %
Lightly Active


(Walk/Stand most of day)

35 % 30 %
Mod. Active


(Walks & performs some physical work)

45 % 40 %
Very Active


(Physically Active Job)

75 % 70 %
Exceptionally Active


(Very Physically Active Job)

100 % 90 %

3.  Third, calculate your Workout Caloric Expenditure (WCE).

WCE = caloric expenditure (table below) x body weight (lbs.) x workout time (see description below)

Workout Time: To find your workout time, multiply the total number of sets completed (total sets= number of exercises x sets per exercise) by 1.25 minutes (30 second set + 45 second rest).  The follow table is based on 30 second sets with a 45 second rest period between sets.

Exercise Intensity Men Women
Circuit Training


(15 reps per exercise)

.053 .045
Low (60%) 1 RM


(10 reps set)

.048 .042
Moderate (70%) 1 RM


(10 reps set)

.055 .048
High (75%) 1 RM


(8 reps per set)

.058 .055
Intense (80 %) 1 RM


(5 reps per set)

.061 .058

4.  Daily Caloric Expenditure (DCE)- Remember this Number!!

 DCE= RCE (Step 1)+ DAE (Step 2) + WCE (Step 3)

This is your caloric minimum.  As an athlete you must consume at least your DCE to perform at an ideal level.  If weight gain or weight loss is a concern you will need to add or subtract calories from this value.

"Finding your DCE is easy as 1, 2 , 3"!



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