How many calories a day to lose weight?
The short answer is: Consume fewer calories than you need daily.
If you don’t know how many calories you consume per day and if you really want to know how many calories you will need to consume to lose weight, first you need to understand that no two bodies are the same.
That’s because each body needs a different amount of calories per day. This difference varies greatly depending on age, height and weight.
So, when asking how many calories you need to eat to lose weight, you should ask yourself the following question: “How many calories does my body need daily?”
Without knowledge of how to calculate your daily calorie needs, it is impossible to answer this question. Therefore, we will learn how to calculate our daily calorie needs.
Calculate how many calories you need per day
To learn how to calculate how many daily calories you need to lose weight, you first need to know how many calories you use daily. Follow the instructions below to calculate it yourself.
First you need to find out what your basal metabolic rate is. This is how much calories your body expends to survive without any physical activity.
For Men
Use this formula:
BMR = 88,362 + (13,397 x weight in kg) + (4,799 x height in cm) – (5,677 x age in years)
For Women
Use this formula
BMR = 447,593 + (9,247 x weight in kg) + (3,098 x height in cm) – (4,330 x age in years)
Now you need to calculate how many calories you burn per day considering your physical activity level. You can adopt the following factors:
Activity level : little or no exercise
Formula: BMR x 1.2
Activity level: Little exercise (1–3 days a week)
Formula: BMR x 1.375
Activity level: Moderate exercise (3–5 days a week)
Formula: BMR x 1.55
Activity level: Intense exercise (6–7 days a week)
Formula: BMR x 1.725
Activity level: Very intense exercise (twice a day or very heavy)
Formula:BMR x 1.9
Practical example of how to calculate your daily caloric expenditure:
You are a sedentary woman, 70 kg, 165 cm tall and 35 years old. Then you should copy this formula below and paste it into a cell of a spreadsheet program like the famous Excel:
=447.593+(9.24770)+(3.098165)(4.33*35)
When you paste this exactly into Excel the result will be 1454.5. Now multiply the value by 1.2 (sedentary) and result will be 1745.
If you are a sedentary man, 95 kg, 178 cm tall and 35 years old, you should copy the formula below and paste into Excel cell.
=88.362+(13.39795)+(4.799178)(5.677*35)
Result gives 2016.6. Now multiply by 1.2 and we get 2420
I calculated how many calories a day I need. How to lose weight?
If everything is correct with the calculation, you now know how many calories your body uses each day. So how can you lose weight?
The answer is simple: If you eat fewer calories than your body needs to function, it will use the fat stored in it as a source of energy.
So should I just cut 2/3 of my calorie intake?
No! The most harmful thing to do is to eat calories far below your daily requirement. Your body needs food as fuel to function properly.
In addition to being totally harmful, eating far below your daily calorie needs will send your body into what we call “starvation mode”.
In this mode, your body adapts to your low calorie intake and you will lose almost no fat (because the body needs fewer calories to function).
When you get out of “hunger mode” and go back to eating normally, you end up gaining a lot of weight, as the body will need fewer calories to function and will store fat with the excess calories.
So what should my daily calorie deficit be?
Experts say that 1,000 calories a day is the maximum calorie deficit. However, while your body can function this way, maintaining a deficit of 1,000 calories a day is not the best thing to do.
As explained above, you will have high chances of triggering “hunger mode” and you will feel very tired and without energy. It is very difficult to maintain a 1,000 calorie deficit routine.
A smarter and healthier calorie deficit to lose weight (and more possible to maintain) would be 200 to 400 calories a day.
You will lose fat very quickly and be able to function normally without feeling worn out, hungry, tired and without going into starvation mode.
What if I don’t want to do all these calculations?
If you don’t want to calculate your daily calorie needs, we can provide the average daily calories for men and women who don’t exercise: 2,000 calories for women and 2,500 calories for men.
As you can imagine, these amounts are an average of caloric needs, based on the entire world population. This means they are not based on your personal calorie needs.
As explained above, height, weight and age play a huge role in the amount of calories a person needs daily for fuel.
So if you really want to know how many calories a day you need to lose weight, you will have to put in some effort and calculate how many calories a day you need.
Last updated: April 17, 2023
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