Calories, More than Just a Number

To be competitive in endurance sports, athletes must maintain intense exercise schedules. The extensive training programs that you get with MTNRDY demand high energy and nutrient intakes. These energy needs are measured in the units we know, and maybe dread: the calorie, defined as amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water 1 °C. This seems like a simple definition for something so complex. So, how do we know how much energy we need?

The most common question we get in the nutrition world is probably “how many calories do I need a day?” Such a loaded question… Unfortunately, the answer is “it depends.” This is because calorie needs for endurance athletes can range anywhere from 1200-8000 calories per day, depending on age, gender, body size, exercise duration and intensity, genetic metabolism, etc. The answer lies in your individual metabolism. Rather than an exact number for everyday, we want to take in the calories we need for everyday metabolism PLUS what we expend in exercise. Being properly fueled with adequate calories (carbohydrates and electrolytes are our main fuel for our body engines), is crucial to avoid “bonking” as well as recovering properly so we can train strong again tomorrow.

Whether you are male, female, tall, short, a weekend warrior, or elite level racer, knowing how many calories your body expends in a day is the best way to determine how many calories YOU need for optimal performance. You could use a device like a power meter or a heart rate monitor to determine your individual energy expenditure, or I can equate your calorie output on top of your basal metabolic rate (BMR). Practicing your calorie intake strategy during training is the first step to a successful season. Contact me to help you make that happen!


Breanne Nalder, MS, RDN has a Master’s degree in nutrition with an emphasis in sports dietetics at the University of Utah. She is a Registered Dietitian, the nutrition coach at PLAN7 Endurance Coaching, and races for Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling team. For individual custom nutrition coaching, you can reach Breanne at 801-550-0434 or

Coach K