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Home » Exercise, Featured, Nutrition

How to Calculate your Daily Calorie Needs Using Insanity

10 December 2011 26 Comments

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There are a lot of equations out there that determine how many calories you need. A common misconception is that you need 2000 calories a day (which is what you find on most food labels). That number actually varies WIDELY based on your age, height, sex, and weight (primarily).

Click Download Calorie Calculator if you want to download a user friendly spreadsheet – where I can calculate your calorie needs FOR you

Download Calorie Calculator

In medical school, they teach us that when you need to quickly estimate someone’s calorie needs (ie in a physician’s office), to use the following formula:

(weight (kg) * 24) + (weight (kg) * 24)/2

So for me, at 114 pounds (or 114/2.2=51.8 kg):

(51.8*24) + (51.8*24)/2 = 1243+621=1881

Now this is assuming a relatively sedentary lifestyle. This is the number of calories that I would need daily if I didn’t workout, to MAINTAIN my current weight. If I wanted to lose 1-2 pounds a week, I would reduce that by 500 calories and try to consume roughly 1381 calories a day.

If you would like to try Insanity with ME as your coach – please use the link below or if you own Insanity, refer to THIS page to make me your coach!

However, like I said, calculating your calories should really take into account your age, sex, and height as well. So the more accurate method is to use the Harris Benedict Equation, which is what is employed by the INSANITY NUTRITION GUIDE.

For women, this equation is: 655 +(4.35 x weight)+(4.7 x height)-(4.7 x age)

For men, this equation is:  66+(6.23 x weight)+(12.7 x height)-(6.8 x age)

This equation calculates out exactly what you NEED just to function. And then you have to use an additional factor in order to determine how many calories you have to eat based on your lifestyle.

1.2 Sedentary Little to no exercise

1.375 Lightly Active Light exercise (1 to 3 days/week)

1.55 Moderately Active Moderate exercise (3 to 5 days/week)

1.7 Very Active Hard Exercise (6 to 7 days/week)

1.9 Extremely Active Hard daily exercise and/or physical job

So you take your number form the Harris Benedict Equation, and then multiply it by your factor for lifestyle. AND THEN you can subtract your 500 calories a day to lose 1-2 pounds a week.

Confused? Click below to download the Insanity Calorie Calculator:

Insanity Calorie Calculator


Thanks for stopping by! My name is Ashley. I am a 29 year old, married, pediatrician, crafty Jewish blogger from Phoenix. I'd love to help you make a healthy life change! And it just so happens that I am PREGNANT and getting a group of pregnant women together to workout and stay healthy starting February 15th!! Get your challenge pack, I'll send you a free blender, and I will bring you into my challenge group. I'll push you and motivate you and keep you on track! Not Pregnant? I've got another challenge group just for YOU! Shoot me an email at! or make me your coach for FREE today and we can discuss how to reach YOUR goals!

26 Responses to “How to Calculate your Daily Calorie Needs Using Insanity”

  1. Jim Burnett says:

    For the lifestyle, does that include exercise?

    I sit on my butt ALL day for 8 – 10 hours a day.

    But I also exercise for 1 – 2 hours a day, sometimes even 3 or 4 on a weekend. Lets say 15 hours of fairly hard exercise, P90X and Cycling.

    Do I account for my exercise in my lifestyle or no?

    • Ashley says:

      Great question! If you are working out 6-7 days a week doing p90x or cycling, I would use the 1.7 factor for lifestyle. Thus use the equation for men:  66+(6.23 x weight)+(12.7 x height)-(6.8 x age) and then multiple by 1.7. This number is th eamiunt of calories you can consume to maintain your weight. To lose weight, subtract 500 calories from that number everyday. Remember to recalculate as you age and lose weight!!!

      On days that you workout 3-4 hours a day, I would even use the 1.9 factor.

  2. Jo says:

    The total calories seems so high to me. Is the number I get what I should be eating or do I subtract the 500 from that total?

    I work out in circuit training usually three days a week and my HRM says I burn between 400/600 calories each time. I also run two times a week unless I do a race on the weekend in which case I’ll run three times a week. I average about 300 calories during my run.

    I’m also 45 years old and so I don’t know if that is really factored in…

    I lost over 100 pounds a few years ago and I didn’t seem to have any trouble doing so. I was using the Weight Watchers Plan at the time. Now I speculate that I was eating far too little because when I reached my desired weight and added the maintenance calories I started to gain weight. In fact I gained nearly 25 pounds and now I can’t seem to lose it at all no matter what I do.

    Any guidance you can give me would be so appreciated.


    • Jo says:

      I should add that I’m 5’3 inches tall and weigh 179 pounds right now. I’d like to get down to at least 150 pounds.

      • Ashley says:

        Hi Jo!

        Thanks for your question. Using the spreadsheet provided in this article, I was able to calculate the number of calories for someone that weights 179 pounds, is 45 years old, and 63 inches tall. I apologize, but I have am unsure whether “Jo” is a male or female name so I will provide you with both estimates.

        For someone, like yourself, that works out, on average, 5 times a week, I calculate 2087 calories daily for a male and 1853 calories for a female. This already factors in a 500 calorie deficit for weight loss. I tend to tell those that I coach, to try this daily calorie intake for 2 weeks, and if no weight loss occurs to adjust it. I personally would suggest that on days you work out, you eat the above specified calories, on a days you do not work out, you eat 1500 (for a male) or 1300 (for a female).

        Best of Luck!

  3. Brad says:

    I used the formula on the other page to calculate my protein intake. Following the calorie calculator for Insanity I am supposed to have 2500 calories to lose weight. If I follow the nutrition Guide of 40% Protein, 40% carbs and 20% fat, I end up needing 250g of protein, which seems way too high. I was wondering what you recommend for a percentage. I am trying to lose fat and get some muscle tone. After insanity I plan on doing roughly 6 mile runs 3-4 days a week and lifting 2-3 days a week.

    Age: 25
    Height:6 ft.
    Weight: 225 lbs

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.



    • Ashley says:

      Hey Brad!

      I agree that 250g of protein is way too high. According to the insanity calculator, you need about 2600 calories on days that you do NOT work out. And to lose 1-2 pounds a week, you should eat about 2100 calories a day. There is research that seems to go both ways in that you should eat back the calories that you burn in your workout. I personally DO eat back the calories that I burn in a work out. For insanity workouts you should burn between 350 and 600 calories per a workout. I do have an excel spread sheet I use to calculate my calories burned without a HRM and am happy to email that to you – just shoot me an email at

      But assuming that you burn 400 – you would need 3100 calories each day. As for the breakdown – there is a lot of research on that as well. I have been taught in medical school, that for people not working out, you need .5-.7 * your weight in kg of protein.

      For you this would be:
      .5*(225/2.2) = 51
      .7*(225/2.2) = 72

      So on days that you do NOT workout – you should be eating between 51 and 72 grams of protein.

      I would suggest that on days that you do Insanity that you add an additional 20-30 grams of protein, thus never exceeding more than 100 grams of protein per a day.

      Hope this helps!


      *I am not a doctor, but a first year medical student – these calculations are based on my current understanding from class and published research*

      • Dave says:

        Hi Ashley, I’m don’t understand how to calculate my calorie needs & was wondering if you could help, I’m in the 1.7 bracket. My age is 40. My weight is 82kg. My height is approx 5.9

        • Ashley says:

          Hey Dave!

          According to the Insanity Calorie Counter, someone of your age/height/weight would need to eat on average 2500 calories a day in order to lose 1-2 pounds a week – assuming you stay in the 1.7 bracket.

          I use myfitnesspal in order to estimate my calorie intake! Note that this estimate takes into account your workout – thus if you use myfitnesspal (or any other app) – you do NOT need to substract your workout calories. You need to EAT a total of roughly 2500 calories.

          Best of luck!

  4. Paola says:

    Hi! I’m having trouble figuring out my calorie intake for insanity. I’m planning to do insanity 3x a week and weight lifting on the days I won’t do insanity(3x a week) with one off day. The problem is that the insanity’s nutrition guide tells you to choose from moderately active(3 to 5 days/week) to very active(6 to 7 days a week).I don’t know how I would classified myself if I follow my exercise schedule. I am 145 pounds, height 64 inches, 19 years old female. I would like to lose some fat but not that much. I will be weight lifting so I don’t know if I should be subtracting the 500 calories. What do you think? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance,

  5. Crystal R says:

    Hi Ashley,

    my husband has been trying to figure out what category he falls in. We just started the insanity program and he is 5ft 10 and weighs 170 Lbs. He definetly whats to add muscle and lessen fat primarily in his mid section but not sure if that should be classified as weight gain when doing the insanity calculator.

    What do you think?

  6. Irvin Hunt says:

    I did this calculator and got 4099 calories daily to fuction and lose weight, that number seems so huge so i want you to help me out. Im 304 lbs 5’10 or 70 inches and is 21 years old

  7. ozzy says:

    I’m 27 5’9 and weight 197 I’m trying to see how many calories I should be taking. I’m doing insanity n also running Mon wed and Fri for an hour. Any help would be gladly appreciated

  8. Brianna Day says:

    There are multiple of weight loss calculators to assist you in achieving your aspiration. The best person to tell you how much you should lose, is your doctor, but your plan can simply be accomplished with the help of a calculator. If you own a smartphone, there’s numerous applications you can download. a few do lots things like calorie count and shopping, so be sure to read and get what you’re looking for.

  9. Mary A-J says:

    I am breastfeeding and about to start the insanity workout would you say that I should use 1.9. I want to maintain my milk supply but begin losing some of the pregnancy weight and feeling better physically.

    • Ashley says:

      Hey Mary! thanks for stopping by! Pregnancy/breastfeeding is really different for everyone, how are you handling your glucose? how often does your baby feed? what is your milk production like? I would suggest printing this out and taking it to your doctor. I have a girlfriend currently doing Turbo Fire and drinking shakeology while breastfeeding (she has found shakeology really helped with her milk production) and I also had her talk to her doctor about calorie intake. Sorry I can’t be more helpful Mary but best of luck! –Ashley

  10. debbie says:

    need help with the calculations.

    i am 5″6
    weight 175
    age 21


    • Ashley says:

      Hey Debbie! Thanks for stopping by! Here is what I recommend:

      655 +(4.35 x weight)+(4.7 x height)-(4.7 x age) = 1627.75

      Assuming sedentary lifestyle (outside of your workouts):
      1627.75* 1.2 = 1953

      Then if you are trying to lose weight: subtract 500 per a day

      On days that you do not work out, I would aim for 1500 calories. If you own a heart rate monitor – then on days you workout, simply add back in your calories. If you do not own a heart rate monitor, and are doing Insanity – consider adding back in roughly 600 calories on days that you workout.

      Hope this helps! Feel free to email me – for more help!

  11. Stephen says:

    I see you have answered a lot of questions and I’m sure your tiered of it! thank you for taking time to do this. it is very helpful!
    I just started insanity and was going to attempt to fallow the nutrition plan. I have never done anything like this before and I am a little confused. I downloaded the spread sheet and plugged in the numbers. I am a 155lb, 69 in, 23 year old male and it tells me that the total calories needed per day is 2,978. this seems like way too much! any suggestions?

  12. corey says:

    Hi, I was just wondering if you do the weight in kg or lb and if you do the height in cm or in?
    Thanks 🙂

  13. Ginika says:

    Hi Ashley,

    I was just wondering what activity level i should classify myself under? I feel like it should be sedentary since when I’m not exercising I’m sitting down most of the day, except for when I get up to do some light chores and things. However I do about 45 mins of circuit training six days a week, and I will be starting Insanity in a few days time and I’m not so sure how I should classify myself. Please advise me on this 🙂
    Thank you

    • Ashley says:

      Hey thanks for stopping by!

      The best way to do it – is to classify yourself at the lowest level of activity and then add back in the calories you burn. You can use myfitnesspal to estimate calories for you or use a heart rate monitor. I use the polar Ft4 heart rate monitor – which I got via Amazon. Congrats on choosing Insanity! I am starting a challenge group on Monday for people doing any beachbody program and drinking shakeology, are you interested in joining us?


  14. Amanda says:

    Hi, I am always having trouble estimating my calorie needs and not gaining weight. I was hoping for a little input. I have a mostly sedentary lifestyle, and my exercise consists of 2 mile walks around the neighborhood 3-4 times a week. I am petite at 5′ 1″ (61.5″) and 112 lbs. I am 27 years old, and I seem to gain weight if I eat over 1200 calories a day.

    NO ONE seems to think that I should EVER eat below 1200 calories. If I am not exercising, however, I seem to start putting on weight if I nudge up to the 1200-1300 range. I currently eat about 1000 calories on weekdays, and about 1500-1800 on weekends, which averages out to right about 1200. I have just started Insanity with the hope of being able to increase my calories per day without the weight gain.

    I guess what I really want to know is if I can eat at or below 1200 calories per day without jeopardizing my health? Does my body just really want to be heavier than it currently is? Thanks for the help.

    • Ashley says:

      Hey Amanda!

      I absolutely think you should be eating 1200 calories a day at MINIMUM. If you have been eating that for a long period of time, than that actually might be the REASON you gain weight when you eat a healthy amount of food. Here is the thing, when you under-eat, your body will take the nutrients it needs from your organs, which is dangerous for you — and why it is recommended not to eat below 1200 calories. When you do that for an extended period of time, your body goes into a sort of “starvation mode.” so now every time you eat an adequate amount of food, your body is storing that away as fat so that it can use the fat for energy when you starve yourself again. It is really important that you are eating enough. You will probably gain some weight when you start eating enough. But then you will be able to get to a health weight and your body wont have to store every calorie it can as fat. Does that make sense?

      I would suggest that you don’t start Insanity until after you have gotten your calorie load to be more stable and am happy to work with you further via email if you want! —

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