How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?
No matter how much I stress the fact that you shouldn’t be focused on calories one of the number one questions I get is based on how many calories you should eat to lose weight.
Losing weight is a science and the good news is that you can get better at it with time if you stay patient and focused on eating healthy and exercising.
And given that it’s a science, it’s important to understand exactly what your body needs in order to lose weight.
To lose weight and burn fat, you essentially need to get your body into a calorie deficit. What this means is that you need to be burning more calories on a daily basis than you consume.
In many instances, an imbalance between calories in and calories out (with more calories in) is a key factor in obesity. This means that to lose weight, a shift has to occur in your calories in and calories out. But exactly what kind of shift do you need to make? How many calories should you eat a day to lose weight?
This is obviously a somewhat complicated question to answer, since it depends on a number of lifestyle factors including your job, how much exercise you get on a daily basis, and your genetics. But let’s look at a basic way of calculating your ideal daily calorie intake. Consider this a starting point.
How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?
First, there are a number of calculators available online to help you figure out your daily calorie need. This number is based on a number of factors, including age, height, weight, and level of daily exercise. Click here for a simple calorie calculator.
Once you have this number, you need to determine how much weight you want to lose. This is a simple subtraction.
Current Weight – Goal Weight = Number of Kilograms/Pounds to Lose.
Next, you need to calculate the total calorie deficit needed to lose this total amount of weight. This is not a daily number – this is the total number of calories you need to burn over time to reach your goal.
If you’re using kilograms, multiply the number of kilograms you need to lose by 7700. One kilogram of body fat is 7700 calories.
If you’re using pounds, multiple the number of pounds you need to lose by 3500. One pound of body fat is 3500 calories.
For example, if you’ve determined that you need to lose 20 pounds, multiply 20 x 3500. Your answer is 70,000. This means that you need a total calorie deficit of 70,000 calories to reach your goal. But again, this number is reached over time.
It is generally safe to lose one pound (or .45 kg) of body fat per week. This translates into a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories. In other words, in order to lose a pound a week, you need to be burning 500 calories more than you consume each and every day.
Now, return to your calorie calculator. Take your daily calorie need and subtract 500 from it (for example, 2800 – 500 = 2300). This final value is the total number of calories you should eat every day in order to effectively lose weight.
Over time, you need to burn your total calorie deficit to reach your goal. If your total calorie deficit needed is 70,000 calories, then it will take you approximately 140 days (or about 5 months) to reach your target weight loss goal (total calorie deficit divided by 500 = total number of days). Doesn’t sound too bad right?
The Problem with Calorie Counting
While these numbers give you a good starting point and a rough estimate of your daily and long-term goals, they’re too simplistic in many ways. There are a number of other lifestyle factors that may be impacting how many calories you need to burn to lose weight.
The other problem is that counting calories is difficult and impractical. Any diet that is not practically sustained over time is doomed for failure. So again, while these numbers can provide a good starting point, they shouldn’t be the only factor involved.
The Real Weight Loss Solution
A far more effective solution is to get around these numbers altogether by increasing your daily level of exercise. This simple change allows for a greater daily intake of calories while still burning more fat. Add to your exercise program some resistance training, and you’ll increase your metabolic rate over the long term, meaning you’ll burn more calories when your body is at rest. More lean muscle mass means higher metabolism.
Cutting out junk foods, sugary foods, and fatty foods is another effective way of reducing your calorie intake without having to worry about actually counting calories. Combine this with an increase in protein, and you’ll start feeling a lot more satisfied after your meals. A tasty, high-quality protein supplement like Gaspari Nutrition Myofusion is a great way to support lean muscle mass, curb cravings, and boost your metabolism.
It’s also important to remember that many foods actually help you burn more calories and fat. Green tea is one such food, but if you’re not a fan of the green stuff, a green tea extract like Irwin Naturals Green Tea Fat Metabolizer can be a great addition to your diet.
In conclusion, use this information on daily calorie intake as a starting point and as a self-assessment. It will give you an idea of how much change is needed in your life to reach your weight loss goals. But don’t get obsessed with calories! Instead, get active, eat better, and make some healthy lifestyle changes that are sure to last!
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