How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?
How many calories should you eat per day to lose weight? Based on research studies, the number of calories you need to lose weight will vary from person-to-person. However, most of these studies indicate that, to lose weight and not cause any ill effects in the process, 1,500 to 2,000 calories is a good marker for being on the right track.
Have you ever wondered how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight? This is one of the most common questions I get asked when helping new clients with their diet strategies. It’s also one of the most common questions I see online in internet forums. A lot of people search for this information but not many people actually have the right answer. In fact, there is way more to it than most people think.
How many calories should you eat on average?
The number of calories you should eat per day depends on numerous factors, including your age, sex, height, current weight, activity level, and metabolic health, among several others.
When trying to lose weight, it’s important to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than you normally do or by exercising more. Some people choose to combine the two, eating a little less while being more physically active (4Trusted Source).
Still, it’s important to ensure that you’re eating enough calories to provide your body with the nutrients it needs, even if you’re trying to lose weight.
The most important part of any weight loss plan is sustainability. This is why many experts recommend small calorie reductions to promote sustainable weight loss.
For example, many fad diets recommend restricting your calorie intake to around 1,000–1,200 calories per day, which is not enough for most healthy adults.
Cutting your calorie intake too drastically not only causes several serious side effects but also increases your risk of nutritional deficiencies. It likewise results in metabolic changes that make long-term weight maintenance difficult (5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).
Here’s a closer look at how many calories you should eat, based on recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (7Trusted Source).
|Age||Daily calorie requirements|
|19–30 years||2,000–2,400 calories|
|31–59 years||1,800–2,200 calories|
|60+ years||1,600–2,000 calories|
Calorie needs for women can depend on their age, size, and activity level.
Most women between the ages of 19–30 require 2,000–2,400 calories per day to maintain their weight.
Women between the ages of 31–59 have slightly lower energy needs. Generally, women in this age group should consume 1,800–2,200 calories per day to maintain their body weight.
Women over age 60 generally require fewer calories and typically need to take in around 1,600–2,000 calories per day to maintain their weight (7Trusted Source).
Keep in mind that the exact number of calories that you need may fall on the high or low end of this range — or even exceed it — depending on how active you are, plus your height, weight, and health status.
Additionally, these estimates don’t apply to those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as they’ll need significantly more calories.
|Age||Daily calorie requirements|
|19–30 years||2,400–3,000 calories|
|31–59 years||2,200–3,000 calories|
|60+ years||2,000–2,600 calories|
As is the case for women, calorie needs for men may range based on several factors.
The most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans estimates that men between the ages of 19–30 should consume 2,400–3,000 calories per day to maintain their weight.
Energy needs decrease as you get older. In fact, men between the ages of 31–59 need about 2,200–3,000 calories per day to maintain their weight, while men over 60 generally require 2,000–2,600 calories (7Trusted Source).
Men who are very active or have certain health conditions may require more calories. The number you need within these ranges also varies based on your height and weight.
|Age||Daily calorie requirements|
|2–4 years||Male: 1,000–1,600 calories|
Female: 1,000–1,400 calories
|5–8 years||Male: 1,200–2,000 calories|
Female: 1,200–1,800 calories
|9–13 years||Male: 1,600–2,600 calories|
Female: 1,400–2,200 calories
|14–18 years||Male: 2,000–3,200 calories|
Female: 1,800–2,400 calories
Children have widely varying calorie needs based on their age, size, and activity level.
Energy needs for children and teens vary based on their sex and age. A 3-year-old child might need only 1,200 calories, but a teenager can require closer to 3,000 calories (7Trusted Source).
However, keep in mind that there’s typically no need to count calories for growing children and teens.
In fact, cutting a child’s calorie intake may increase their risk of nutritional deficiencies, slow growth, and foster an unhealthy relationship with food or an eating
What is weight loss?
Weight loss is the reduction in total body mass that occurs as a result of the loss of body fluid, body fat or adipose tissue, and/or lean mass. Weight loss occurs when the amount of energy expended exceeds the energy intake.
What are the types of weight loss?
A person can lose weight on purpose, for personal reasons, such as to look good. This is called intentional weight loss which is done by following a specific diet, and weight loss regime. However, if a person loses weight unintentionally over 6-12 months, due to some underlying health issues, this is called unintentional weight loss.
Use Medindia’s Weight Loss Calculator to know the right amount of calories you need everyday to achieve your target weight.
It is to be noted that cutting calories to attain healthy weight is desirable. However, taking pains to lose weight to fit social stereotypes, when you already have healthy weight, is NOT recommended.
How to lose weight fast – How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?
You have to ensure that the calories, which are nothing but units of energy, that you burn, are more than the calories you take in on a daily basis.
- Remember to set realistic weight loss goals
The first step to keep in mind is that fad diets, and food deprivations are not the best ways to go about losing weight. It is vital to set a goal that is both realistic and doable. For starters, losing 5-10% of weight is an achievable goal, and is also beneficial for health. Set short-term, specific goals such as light physical activity, for example, walking daily for half an hour.
- Know your calories
1 pound is equal to 3,500 calories. This means that setting a target to lose 500 calories daily will make you lose a pound in a week, and bring you closer to your goal. Remember that every calorie counts. So start keeping track of your daily calorie intake.
- Eat a healthy breakfast
Starting the day with a good, heavy breakfast can reduce your hunger during the day. Avoid meager breakfasts or skipping breakfasts altogether. A healthy breakfast helps to to rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day.
- Small meals throughout the day keep extra calories away
Do not starve yourself as that slows down metabolism and hinders the burning of calories. Take light meals during the day every 3-4 hours so as not to overeat or binge eat.
- Eat smaller portions in smaller plates
Research reveals that smaller plate sizes reduce consumption by 30%. It also helps eat smaller portions. Cutting back on food portions is a great beginning if you are serious about weight loss.
- Consume home-cooked food
Home-cooked meals tend to be low on sugar. Find time to go shopping, choose your ingredients and prepare healthy food in the comforts of your home. Try to avoid eating out and consuming processed foods as much as possible to avoid excess calories.
- Remember to chew every bite you take
Eating slowly will help your digestion, and boost the basal metabolic rate, which could help you burn up calories faster. Slow eating also makes you feel psychologically full.
- Eat mindfully
It is difficult to pay attention to what you eat in daily life, given the fast paced lifestyle. However, tasting your food is important to make you feel psychologically satiated. Focus on what you’re eating, and try to manage the emotional craving for certain foods.
- Watch what you drink
Avoid drinking beverages like sweetened tea and caffeine, sugary juices, sodas and energy drinks as these are loaded with calories. Also, cut down on your alcohol intake. Develop a habit of drinking plain water, or flavor it with fresh lime.
- Lose weight by walking or running
Get moving. Research has shown that regular light activity is as good as a rigid workout session. So if you cannot sweat it out everyday at the gym, then manage your weight by walking or running, or pick up a dancing habit. Physical exercise not only helps burn calories but also improves metabolism.