Counting calories isn't just for women. Men need to get to grips with calories too in order to reach their health and fitness goals.
This can seem like a daunting task, especially if all they've had to add up until now is the price of a burger and a beer at the pub.
But it's not that complicated - and adding up calories can actually become quite motivating as the kilos drop off.
Even if you're trying to maintain your weight or gain a few kilos (for those men who feel too skinny), counting your daily calories is essential and gives you a sense of control over your weight and health that's highly rewarding.
Planning Your Calories
In addition to knowing how many calories to eat each day, men also need to know how many calories should go into each meal and snack. The more men plan their meals and the number of calories they're eating, the more likely they are to achieve their goals.
Men will probably be happy to hear they can eat more calories than their female counterparts.
Because men generally have more muscle and less fat than women, their basal metabolic rate (BMR) - or the number of calories they burn at rest - is higher. So that means men need more calories simply to function each day.
Calories From The Best Foods
While it's great that men can eat more calories, they need to make sure those extra calories come from healthy whole foods - it isn't an excuse to tuck into a tub of ice-cream!
Men should include lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables in every meal, and keep processed, fatty, sugary foods to a minimum, as these foods provide a lot of calories with very few nutrients.
In fact, these foods should become an occasional treat rather than a daily or even a weekly occurrence. Calories should come with heaps of nutrients!
Find out more in our article on healthy foods.
Calories in Snacks
When it comes to snacks, men need to reach for nutrient-dense foods that will fill them up, rather than empty calories that will leave them hungry and craving more half an hour later.
Examples of healthy snacks include a small handful of nuts, a medium piece of fruit or a slice of wholegrain toast with two teaspoons of peanut butter.
Men need to keep an eye on the calorie counts of their snacks to keep them in line with our calorie recommendations according to different goals, below.
Crunch Those Calorie Numbers!
Are you ready to start crunching numbers and take the first step towards achieving your weight goals? Welcome to the world of calories!
Let's figure out exactly how many calories you should be eating depending on your objective.
Firstly, you'll need to know what your goal weight is. To work that out, use this body mass index (BMI) calculator.
A healthy BMI should be within the range of 18.5 to 24.9 - if yours is higher than that, you'll need to lose weight, lower than that and you'll need to put on some weight, and if you're in the middle, you'll be looking to hold fast (or maintain your weight).
Calories For Weight Loss in Men
Men who are trying to lose weight should stick to a daily intake of 1800 calories. Each meal should contain 450 calories and snacks should total 450 calories a day.
Men will have to be on the ball when it comes to keeping track of everything they eat and drink throughout the day and how many calories they're consuming.
That's right - they even have to count the calories in their morning coffee (a large latte can pack a 225-calorie punch) and that sneaky Tim Tam they have for morning tea (would you believe it has 98 calories?)
As you can see, the calories can stack up quickly, so men should write them all down as they go.
To find out the number of calories in different foods and drinks, we suggest using a calorie calculator.
Calories And Exercise for Men
Calorie intake is only half of the weight-loss equation for men - the other half is exercise.
Men should aim to burn at least 400 to 800 calories four to five times a week, in addition to a massive 1000-calorie workout on Saturdays.
Mix Up Your Calorie Burning
Men need to make sure they keep mixing up their training so their bodies don't get used to certain exercises and stop burning calories efficiently.
By keeping their workouts varied in terms of type and intensity, they'll avoid the dreaded weight-loss plateau.
If you do hit one, it's just because your calories out have balanced your calories in, so shape up your exercise by increasing the weights or number of reps you're lifting or by increasing the intensity of your cardio.
You'll find your calorie burning goes up, but whatever you do, stick to your 1800-calorie-a-day eating plan while you wait to start losing weight again.
Calories For Weight Maintenance in Men
Hitting your target weight is a pretty awesome feeling and you should give yourself a huge pat on the back!
While men can allow themselves one treat meal a week, they should make sure they don't go calorie-crazy and fall off the wagon - now's not the time to lose sight of all the healthy habits they've put into place and undo all their hard work.
Men who've steadily remained at their goal weight for two weeks will need to increase their food intake to 2000 calories a day to stop losing weight.
These calories should be split into three 500-calorie meals and a total of 500 calories a day in snacks.
In the maintenance phase, it's as important as ever for men to monitor their weight and calorie intake closely.
Because each person is different, it's possible that 2000 calories a day isn't the optimal number for you to stay at your goal weight.
If so, you'll need to tweak your calorie intake.
If the kilos start to creep back on, men aiming to maintain their weight should go back down to 1950 or 1900 calories until their weight steadies.
Or if they keep losing weight, they should add 50 or 100 calories to their daily intake until the number on the scales stops moving downwards.
As for exercise, keep working your butt off! You should still be burning at least 400 to 800 calories four to five times a week, plus one mega-workout that torches 1000-plus calories on Saturdays.
If your weight is still fluctuating, play around with your food and calorie intake, not your workouts.
Calories For Weight Gain in Men
People who are overweight often have a hard time imagining that being too skinny can be a problem, but it is for many men.
Whether it's down to genetics, too much exercise or illness, being underweight can cause its own set of health problems.
Men first need to rule out an undiagnosed illness that might be causing them difficulty in gaining weight - or make sure they're healthy enough if they're recovering from one.
Once they've been given the go-ahead, men wanting to gain weight should eat 2200 calories a day.
Each meal should contain 550 calories, and snacks should add up to a total of 550 calories a day.
Where to Find Those Calories
Choose healthy whole foods over processed foods - thin men are particularly guilty of indulging in high-calorie, low-nutrient fast food and other unhealthy fare because they think they can "get away with it".
Remember, it's not just about calories and weight - men's food choices affect their overall health.
Even if men are underweight, they should also still prioritise exercise.
Aim for four to five workouts a week that burn 400 to 800 calories each, plus one longer and more intense session once a week.
A smart move for men in this situation is to put a greater emphasis on strength training than cardio in order to build muscle and avoid losing more weight.
If you find yourself shedding kilos, increase your calorie intake with healthy foods until you reverse that trend.