How Many Calories Should I Cut To Lose Weight


How many calories should i cut to lose weight? Cutting calories is a common way to lose weight. But how many calories should you cut in order to lose weight? This may sound obvious, but the answer depends on many factors that depend on your own body. The number of calories you need per day depends on your gender and age. The goal of this article is to figure out how many calories you should consume in order to lose weight given these variables.

Calories To Cut


To help us better understand the finer points of cutting, we have enlist the help of Maximuscle Ambassador Sean Lerwill. With years of experience within the fitness industry Sean has a wealth of knowledge and shares his views and opinions on the best way to cut for the Ibiza Challenge.

If you want to lose some body fat so you can be more “toned” or “ripped” for the summer, someone somewhere has probably told you the you need to go on a “cut”.

The most important thing to get right when cutting, is your daily calorie intake. Get this wrong and you’ll either be eating too much (so not actually cutting) or eating way too little which can have hugely negative consequences to your physique in terms of losing muscle, as well as your hormone levels, not to mention your mental health. Please cut calories sensibly as per the directions here and don’t starve yourself. Long term, that does not work and only leads to eating disorders or the like.

Above all, you also need to be consistent. Cutting isn’t something to do well for a few days unless you are already fairly lean (visible six pack). Losing fat is a slow process, requiring real dedication. You will need to consistently eat less calories than you actually need over a period of weeks and possibly months while still performing progressive, intensive, thought-out and well structured training.

A plan is paramount. To cut properly, that plan is not just training, it also revolves around a scientifically worked out formula that will allow you to best estimate your Calorie needs for your cut, to ensure you lose fat but more importantly retain muscle.

Caloric Deficit: What to Know

 To lose weight, you need to eat and drink fewer calories than you burn. That’s called a calorie deficit.

If you take in more than calories than you burn, then you don’t have a calorie deficit and you won’t lose weight.

There are two ways to raise your calorie deficit: changing what and how much you eat, and exercise. Most doctors and nutritionists suggest a combination of both for healthy weight loss.

Diet Change

There’s no single best approach to cutting calories. In general, as long as you cut the calories and maintain a minimum amount, you will lose weight.

One proven method is to replace all sugar-sweetened beverages with water. This simple change can lead to a 2% loss of body weight over 6 months.

The DASH and Mediterranean diets also show some success. These focus on eating:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Lean proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Nuts
  • Seeds

Just be sure to watch your calories. Smaller portions can help, too, along with careful planning of your meals.

A registered dietitian can help you figure out healthy ways to manage your portions and lower your daily calories.


Research shows that diet changes alone raise your calorie deficit more easily than exercise alone. Still, you often get the best weight loss results if you combine diet changes with moderate to hard exercise.

Shoot for 30 minutes or more on most days of the week, though 45 minutes or more may be better for keeping the weight off. You don’t have to do it all at once. You can do shorter, 10-minute spurts throughout the day. Take a walk around the block or do a bit of gardening in the afternoon.

Be sure to talk to your doctor before you start hard exercise, particularly if you’re overweight or have other health conditions.

And remember: Regular exercise goes a long way in protecting your health even if you don’t lose weight. It stops your body from packing on the pounds. And if you have lost weight, it helps you maintain.

Why Cutting Calories Helps You Lose Weight

Cutting calories helps you lose weight because it creates a calorie deficit, meaning you are consuming fewer calories than you are burning through your metabolism and daily activity. When you consume fewer calories than you burn, your body cannot support all of your body’s tissues, leading to a loss of tissue mass. The tissues you lose include primarily fat mass and muscle mass.

There are 3,500 calories in one pound of body weight, so many diet strategies are based on cutting 3,500 or more calories from your weekly intake to induce a 1lb or more loss per week. However, the body is more complex than a mathematical equation, and often, weight loss does not work this way. It may happen faster or slower and is affected by several factors, including hormones and digestion.

Avoid Cutting Too Many Calories

When you cut calories, your body will begin to fight to preserve your weight. It might seem frustrating, but the physiological defenses your body uses to slow down weight loss have evolved to help humans survive times of famine and prevent starvation. In today’s world, this is less helpful for many people trying to lose weight.

Cutting too many calories from the start of a weight-loss attempt can work against you by causing these evolutionary mechanisms to kick in. This includes hormonal adaptations such as a rise in the hormone ghrelin, which causes you to feel hungry and seek out food.

You may also end up moving your body less due to reduced energy and feelings of fatigue when you don’t eat enough to support activity. When this happens, you can end up burning fewer calories than you used to during the day, which causes your calorie deficit to shrink or even be eliminated, thereby slowing down or stalling weight loss.

How to Determine Your Calorie Needs

Although the 3,500 calorie equation for determining weight loss is not always accurate, it is a useful starting point. The CDC suggests a rate of weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. This would require a calorie deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories per day.

For many people, this level of calorie reduction is too much, and some experts suggest never reducing your calorie intake below 1,400 per day. It is best to discuss your ideal calorie reduction target with a registered dietitian or doctor. You can use this tool to get an idea of a weight loss calorie goal that may be suitable for you, but keep in mind this is only an estimate, and your individual needs likely differ.

How Active Are You?


Light Activity

Moderate Activity

If you’ve been cutting calories for a long time or have cut them in the past only to regain weight, it is likely that your metabolism has slowed due to hormonal adaptations. If this is the case, cutting calories further may not be a successful strategy for you. You may need to increase calories for a time or rely on food quality and exercise to help your body recover.

How to Reduce Your Calorie Intake Without Counting or Measuring

Cutting calories does not necessarily mean you need to count them or weigh and measure your food with a scale. Although those techniques can be effective, there are several other strategies that can help you reduce your calorie intake.

Reduce Portion Sizes

Reducing your typical portion sizes for meals is a smart strategy for naturally creating a calorie deficit. It’s best to start slow and aim to cut a little bit of food from your meals at a time, adjusting as needed to see results.

Portion sizes in the United States are often much larger than recommended for healthy weight balance by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For example, cookies average 700% larger than USDA standards, cooked pasta 480% more, steaks are 224% larger, and bagels are 195% larger.

A straightforward way to reduce your portion sizes is to use a smaller dinner plate. Research indicates that using a smaller plate when eating can naturally lead to less food consumption.  You can choose a side or salad plate (8 or 9 inches) instead of larger dinner plates (10 to 12 inches), or there are 

How to Cut Calories

Try these 10 ways to cut 500 calories every day. It is easier than you may think.

  • Swap your snack. Many people reach for a snack or two in between meals. Snacking is fine, but be sure to choose lower-calorie options. The key is to have some healthy snacks ready when hunger hits. Instead of a 3-ounce (85 g) bag of flavored tortilla chips (425 calories), choose a cup (250 mg) of air-popped popcorn (31 calories), a cup (250 mg) of grapes and a low-fat cheese stick (180 calories) or a small apple and 12 almonds (160 calories). Choosing healthy snacks twice a day will save you 500 calories.
  • Cut one high-calorie treat. Try to remove one high-calorie food item each day. Whether it is a donut in the morning, a brownie or bag of chips at lunch, or chocolate cake after dinner, you will save 250 to 350 calories or more. To burn another 150 calories, take a 40-minute brisk walk after lunch or dinner.
  • Do not drink your calories. One 12-ounce (355 mL) regular soda has about 150 calories, and a 16-ounce (475 mL) flavored latte can pack 250 calories or more. Even fruit smoothies have lots of calories, as many as 400 in a 16-ounce (475 mL) serving. A couple of sweet drinks a day can easily add up to 500 calories or more. Choose water, sparkling water, or black coffee or tea instead and save your calories for foods that will help you feel full.
  • Skip seconds. Taking a second helping can add up to unwanted calories. It is easy to keep filling your plate when you serve food family style on the table. Instead, fill your plate once and keep extras in the kitchen. Or, if you still do not feel satisfied, add a second helping of vegetables, fruit, or salad.
  • Make low calorie substitutions. Substitute lower-calorie options for some of your high-calorie favorites. For example, if a recipe calls for a cup (250 mL) of sour cream (444 calories), use plain low-fat yogurt or Greek yogurt instead (154 calories).
  • Ask for a doggie bag. The portions at most restaurants are much larger than recommended serving sizes. Instead of cleaning your whole plate, ask the server to put half in a container for you to take home for another meal. You can also share an entrée with a friend, or make a meal out of an appetizer and a large salad. Just be sure to go easy on the dressing and fried toppings.
  • Just say “no” to fried food. Frying food adds lots of unhealthy calories and saturated fat to any dish. Instead of fried chicken or fish, choose grilled, broiled, or poached instead. And skip the French fries. A large serving of fries alone can add almost 500 calories to a meal. Instead, see if you can substitute for the vegetable of the day or a side salad.
  • Build a thinner pizza. Skip the meat toppings, extra cheese, and deep-dish crust, and have a couple slices of thin-crust vegetable pizza instead. You will save a little over 500 calories.
  • Use a plate. Eat all food from a plate or bowl, including snacks. When you snack out of a bag or box, it is easy to eat more than you intend to. This is especially true if you are sitting in front of the TV. You may be surprised to learn that a large bag of chips could be more than 1000 calories. Instead, place one portion in a bowl, and put the rest away.
  • Avoid alcohol. Cutting back on alcohol is an easy way for many people to trim calories. Alcohol does not have any nutritional value, so when you imbibe (drink) alcohol, you are getting empty calories, up to 500 for some mixed drinks made with syrupy sweeteners, fruit juices, and ice cream or heavy cream. If you do order a drink, choose a 12-ounce (355 mL) light beer (103 calories) or a 5-ounce (145 mL) glass of wine (120 calories).

Calories: Are You Getting Enough?

Here are signs that you are not getting enough calories:

  • You are having a hard time sticking to your diet plan. It’s hard to stick to extremely low-calorie diets, which can hurt your long-term success. Boredom and hunger can both undermine your weight-loss goals.
  • Your weight loss is stalling. A study of 48 overweight people compared the results of a calorie restriction diet, diet and exercise, and a normal diet over six months and found that many of those eating the lower amount of calories had increasingly slow metabolisms as time went by. This translates into slowed weight loss.

You can use online tools, such as My Calorie Counter, to help you track your daily calorie intake. MCC allows you to set a target for daily calorie consumption and can tell you throughout the day how you are doing.

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