Getting ripped often entails a strenuous workout plan with the goals of dropping body fat and gaining muscle. How often you work out will determine how many calories you need to eat. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends women never eating fewer than 1,200 calories per day and men never eating fewer than 1,800.
Calories Per Pound of Body Weight
To determine how many calories you should eat to get ripped, base your caloric intake on your workout schedule and your weight. If you are sedentary, MedlinePlus recommends eating 10 calories per pound of bodyweight. If you are lightly active, you should eat 13. If you are moderately active, you should eat 15. And, if you are strenuously active on a regular basis, you should eat 18 calories per pound. These numbers are meant as a guide for you to maintain your weight.
Calorie Intake for Weight Loss
Getting ripped typically means shedding body fat. If losing body fat is your goal, then you will have to lose weight at the same time. Weight loss occurs when there is a calorie deficit. Take your maintenance number of calories and subtract 500 per day. This will allow a 3,500 calorie deficit for the week, which is equivalent to one pound. Be sure that your caloric intake does not fall below 1,200 for females or 1,800 for males.
Calorie Intake for Mass
If you already have a desired body fat percentage but you are going for muscle mass instead, then you may have to gain weight and supplement your intense lifting schedule with the proper amount of calories, accounting for the calories you burn during your workout. If you have a heavy lifting day, add up to 500 to 1,000 calories to your diet to account for a one to two pound weight gain per week.
As an example, let's say you are a 30-year-old male who weighs 200 lbs. If you work out five days per week, moderately, then you need to eat 15 times your body weight, which is 3,000 calories per day. To get ripped, you may need to drop several body fat percentage points and shed some pounds while you build muscle mass. On days where you lift heavy weights and have a strenuous workout, keep eating your 3,000 calories, since you may have burned between 500 and 1,000 calories at the gym. On days you are more lax, you can cut your calorie intake to 2,000 calories, accounting for a 1,000 calorie deficit, equaling a two pound weight loss per week.