Are you confused about calculating your caloric needs for weight loss? The truth is, there are two different ways to calculate how many calories you need to lose weight. If you determine how many calories your body needs every day based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR), you’re guaranteed to lose weight. But most people don’t know how to do that, so they use a simpler way of estimating their calorie needs which doesn’t take into account their individual metabolic rate. By using a BMR calculator, you can create a baseline of the number of calories your body needs every day at rest.
What Are Calories?
The human body breaks down the calories from food and to produce energy. This energy helps the body to perform daily activities.
On average, a man needs around 2,500 kcal to maintain the perfect body weight. Contrastingly, a woman needs around 2,000 kcal to maintain body weight and perform daily activities.
However, these values can change depending on a person’s weight, height, size, and age.
Individuals can consult a dietician to know the exact calories needed to lose weight.
Generally, dieticians suggest including food items filled with nutrients and the needed calories in a balanced diet. One can easily find nutrient-dense food items containing fibre, minerals, protein, etc.
There are also food items like fries and soda that have empty calories. These food items have no or low nutrients but offer calories that lack energy.
Hence, different food items offer different energy levels. For instance, certain food items rich in carbohydrates and protein supply fewer calories and more fat.
It is essential to select the right food items that fulfil calorie intake to lose weight. Individuals can consult a dietician and develop a diet chart that supports the said need.
Let’s look at the amount of calories an individual needs to sustain a healthy weight.
How Many Calories Should an Individual Consume to Lose Weight?
Individuals need to assess several factors such as height, age, current weight, physical activeness and metabolic health when deciding how many calories they should eat to lose weight.
Hence, individuals trying to lose weight must reduce at least 500 Kcal from their regular diet. This will help maintain the right BMI. Individuals can lose up to 0.45 kg per week by following this method.
Certain articles or blogs suggest wrong dieting methods or fad diets that can cause serious health issues. For instance, some sites advise consuming around 1,000–1,200 calories per day which is insufficient for healthy adults.
Nevertheless, this table explains the amount of calories to eat per day to lose weight according to gender and activity level.
|Gender and Age||Sedentary||Active|
|Female – 19-30 years||1800-2000||2400|
|Male – 19-30 years||2400-2600||3000|
|Female – 31-50 years||1800||2200|
|Male – 31-50 years||2200-2400||2800-3000|
|Female – 51years and above||1600||2000-2200|
|Male – 51 years and above||2000-2200||2400-2800|
Note– This table specifies the calorie requirement for women and men who have a BMI of 21.5 and 22.5, respectively. These measurements can change according to different BMIs.
Moreover, pregnant women might need higher calorie levels to support their children.
It is advisable to consult a dietician to understand how many calories should one take to lose weight.
How do you calculate calories needed to lose weight?
If you’re about to embark on your weight loss journey then you need to understand the most important component for weight loss – creating an energy deficit. This article covers some of the factors that contribute to creating an energy deficit, how to estimate your energy deficit and some top tips for creating an energy deficit successfully!
What Factors affect energy balance?
1. Energy consumption from food2. Energy consumption from drinks3. Energy output from existing4. Energy output from digesting food5. Energy output from exercise6. Energy output from daily movement
How to estimate a calorie deficit for weight loss
If you have already been tracking your energy intake for a while, then you may be familiar with your caloric intake and therefore you can simply make a daily caloric deduction from that.
1. Use an online calculator and enter your stats to get an estimation of your caloric intake and a guideline for your intake for weight loss:
2. Multiply your bodyweight in pounds by 10-12: opt for the lower end if you’re less active and the higher end if you’re more active.
3. Track your food and record weight for 2 weeks: record your caloric intake for 2 weeks, as well as recording your weight three times per week. If you find that over the 2 weeks your weight has stayed the same based on that caloric intake, then you can reduce your food intake by a certain proportion depending upon your weight loss target.
It is important to note that all of the above methods are estimations and option 1 and 2 are likely to be need to be adjusted based on you as an individual. Definitely use the caloric values as a tool that you combine with your understanding of what you currently eat and what is happening to your weight in order to be able to create a caloric deficit that is more appropriate for you.
Additionally, be aware that this number for your caloric deficit will need to be adjusted as you lose weight!
Also be aware that the more overweight you are, the less accurate these predictions are. Because fat tissue is less metabolically active than say muscle tissue, the chances are the predictions overestimate your resting and predicted total energy expenditure. To help overcome this, sometimes it can be a good idea to calculate your requirements based upon what you should be rather than what you are.
In clinic, we use Body Composition Testing, to not only calculate our clients body composition but to also establish predicted resting energy expenditure and also daily total energy expenditure. This then guides our clinicians in establishing appropriate caloric requirements.
Tips to help create an energy deficit
Follow a nutrition plan that meets your energy needs appropriately: if you have a plan where you know what your energy intake is going to be and have guidelines of what you can eat to meet your energy needs, it takes out the guesswork. Will you eat 2 meals or 4 meals? What will your plate look like? How will your favourite chocolate brownie be part of your nutrition plan? Having enough energy to lead your life and being healthy and not going hungry is key – this comes down to consuming the right foods for you.
Track your nutrition intake: to keep you on track so that you know that you are meeting your energy needs! It’s a great tool that helps you be accountable. If you don’t like calorie counting, no worries, go for a simple log of food intake. To find out more about the different methods for tracking nutrition intake to work out what is right for you, check out Tracking my nutrition intake for weight loss.
Follow an exercise program: whilst I wouldn’t advise using exercise to contribute to your caloric deficit, individuals who exercise increase their success with weight loss and weight loss maintenance. It’s also critical for being healthy and being healthy will aid the success of your overall weight loss journey for sure.
Include daily movement: daily movement is key for increasing your overall energy output. Research shows that this can vary from 1-10 fold between different individuals and is one of the greatest predictors why some individuals gain weight and others don’t. Check out The importance of daily activity for weight loss for more info around this.
Include strength training: whether that is hitting the gym, doing some bodyweight strengthening at home, or going to a barre class, building strong lean muscle is key for prioritising retention of lean muscle during weight loss and losing fat.
Be consistent: an energy deficit isn’t meaningful if it is just now and again. Think in terms of your overall weekly intake. Being consistent with hitting your calorie deficit can help you set healthy habits that will enable you to hit your goals.
Get support: creating an energy deficit consistently may be challenging for you at times – for example, appetite, a current relationship/habits with food, life, family etc are just a few of the examples that may be stressors to meeting your nutrition plan. Be proactive in getting support – be supported when you’re feeling strong to become even stronger!
How to Count Calories According to Body Weight
Your caloric intake is the most important factor in determining your weight. It comes down to how many calories you consume versus how many you burn. Both exercise and diet influence how effectively you burn calories. Whether your goal is to lose, gain or maintain weight, there is a method to calculate your daily calorie requirements. You will need to know your current level of physical activity, height and weight to use the equation.
Weigh yourself. Use a bathroom scale to determine your weight in pounds. A scale usually gives your weight in stones.
Calculate your basic metabolic rate (BMR). Your BMR is your resting metabolic rate, which is how active your metabolism is when you are not performing any physical activity, such as sleep. If you’re a woman, use the following formula to calculate your BMR: 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).
Use the following formula to calculate your BMR if you are a man: 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years). For example, a 23-year-old man who is 6 feet 2 inches tall, weighing 185 pounds, has a basic metabolic rate of 2,003.
Multiply your BMR by the level of physical activity you get. If you get little or no exercise, times your BMR by 1.2 and if you perform light exercise, such as walking one to three days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375. For a moderate level of exercise, such as jogging three to five times a week, multiply your BMR by 1.55. And for those who are very active and exercise or engage in sports most days of the week, times your BMR by 1.725. Calculate an athletic level of exercise by multiplying your BMR by 1.9. The result is the ideal number of calories you should consume daily. The very active 23-year-old man in the example above would multiply his BMR by 1.725, for a total of 3,452 calories daily.
Increase your ideal number of calories by 500 to 1,000 daily to increase your weight by 1 to 2 pounds a week, or decrease your calories if you want to lose weight.
How to Calculate Calories to Lose Weight?
Ideally, the individual’s gender, age, physical activity and other proportions are needed to calculate calorie requirements.
However, a manual calculation can be time-consuming and filled with errors. In this regard, one can check the sites offering calorie calculators.
Here are the general steps to use these smart tools online.
- Step 1: Check for a website offering the calorie calculator.
- Step 2: Select the unit such as metric or imperial system.
- Step 3: Enter the gender and age.
- Step 4: Fill in the weight, height and physical activity.
- Step 5: Click on the calculate option to find the desired result.