How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose 30 Pounds? In order to effectively lose 30 pounds, you must determine how many calories your body needs per day or by calculating your BMR. Based on that number, you can then decide on a specific diet and exercise program in order to achieve your goal weight.
How to Lose 30 Pounds Fast and Safely
Let’s look at some helpful tips to drop those 30 extra pounds.
1. Reduce Calorie Intake
It may seem basic, but calories-in, calories-out still holds true.
An easy way to reduce the number of calories you are eating is to swap out high-calorie foods for nutrient-dense foods instead.
Good food includes fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains, lean meats, or those “clean foods” we discussed earlier.
These foods provide more nutrients to support healthy body weight while also having a lower caloric load than most processed foods.
This is a great way to choose a low-calorie diet without trying to solve a complex math equation every day.
Reduce your intake of packaged items such as sweets, cookies, crackers, and chips.
These items are often high in calories, carbs, and added sugars and low in nutrition.
If you prefer to track your calorie intake, you can do so through many different apps on your phone or by using a food diary.
Calorie ranges differ based on age, height, gender, activity level, and many other factors.
A general calorie range for women is anywhere from 1600-2200 calories a day and 2000 to 3200 a day for men.
If you are unsure what your daily energy requirements should be for effective weight loss, consider speaking to a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) for more tailored ranges.
You can also use our weight loss calculator to figure out your daily calorie intake.
2. Eat a High Protein Breakfast
Eating a healthy breakfast is a big component of a healthy diet.
Weight loss is all to do with developing healthy eating habits and maintaining them.
Let’s start with breakfast.
Starting your day with breakfast daily has been shown to help with weight loss by science.
Research has found that more than 75% of people who succeed in losing 30 pounds and keep it off eat breakfast.
Starting a day with a healthy meal can help balance hunger levels throughout the day. It can also keep your metabolism running at its best.
What’s equally important is having the right breakfast.
Studies have found that the best type of breakfast for weight loss is one high in lean protein.
Aim to get a minimum of 10-15 grams of protein at your meal from a high-quality, lean protein source.
Good sources of protein include eggs (whole egg or egg whites), meat, poultry, and dairy.
Plant-based protein sources include:
Tofu, beans such as black beans and pinto beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Toss some black beans in a salad or add some nuts to your morning oats for an inexpensive protein boost.
Factors That Affect Your Target Calorie Intake
As the recommended calorie intake guidelines suggest, the number of calories you need per day can vary based on various factors. Among them are:
- Activity level
Additional factors that can affect how many calories your body uses for energy, thus also impacting how many you should consume, include your hormones, some medications (such as steroids and some diabetes medicines), and your overall health.
The Nutrition Facts label on foods provides information based on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. But people can have different calorie needs. Determining your individual needs can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Using Weight Loss Calculators
Whether your goal is to lose weight, gain weight, or maintain your current weight, a weight loss calculator can help. The calculator uses your sex, weight, height, and age to determine the number of calories you need to fuel your body for daily activity.
Then it adds the calories needed to gain weight or subtracts the calories required to help you lose weight. It can figure out how many calories you should eat to maintain weight as well.
Inputting accurate information can help determine your daily caloric needs. If you’re unsure how active you are during the day, keep an activity journal for a week or look at data from your fitness tracker to get a quick estimate.
Next, the calculator will ask you about your goals. It’s important to be realistic during this step. Your goal weight may differ from an ideal or “perfect” weight. Try to set goals that you believe are attainable. Once you reach your goal, you can always set a new one.
If you are trying to lose weight, a healthy rate of weight loss is 0.5 to 2 pounds per week. If you are trying to gain weight, adding 1 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy goal.
Reaching Your Goal Weight
After entering your information into the calorie calculator, you’ll receive a daily calorie goal. This is the number of calories you should eat daily to reach your desired weight in the set time frame.
To Lose Weight
If weight loss is your goal, a calorie deficit is factored into your recommended daily caloric intake. A calorie deficit is simply an energy shortfall—consuming fewer calories than you use—so your body burns stored fat (excess weight) for fuel.
You can create a calorie deficit by eating less than your body needs. You can also burn extra calories by increasing your physical activity. Combining the two (a balanced diet and exercise) is a healthy strategy for losing weight.
While it may be tempting to restrict your calorie intake dramatically, a very low-calorie diet (fewer than 800 to 1000 calories per day) can backfire. You should only do so with a doctor’s supervision to ensure that the diet meets your nutritional needs.10
Other dietary strategies that can assist with weight loss include:
- Increasing protein intake
- Reducing refined carbohydrate intake
- Reducing sugar intake
- Eating a moderate amount of healthy fats
- Drinking more water and fewer sweetened beverages
To Gain Weight
If you are trying to gain weight, your daily calorie goal will include a calorie surplus. The key to making this gain healthy involves following a few simple guidelines:
- Eat high-quality high-calorie foods, such as high-protein meats, healthy fats, and whole grains.
- Eat more often (this helps if you get full quickly).
- Add extra calories to your meals by putting nuts on your morning oatmeal.
- Drink nutrient-rich shakes.
- Incorporate strength training into your exercise routine.
To Maintain Weight
Several pieces of research have sought the best ways to maintain one’s current weight, especially after successful weight loss. Many of these studies report that results are mixed as to what strategies may work best.
However, many of these studies did find that following a higher-protein diet might help with weight maintenance. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and polyphenols was also suggested as an effective approach to sustaining a healthy weight.
Tips for Losing 30 Pounds
You can eat whatever you want and lose weight if you stay within your calorie range. That said, it might be hard to stay in this range if you don’t eat nutritious foods.
Plus, empty-calorie foods don’t provide your body with the nutrients you need to live an active life. And when you eat junk food, you’re likely to get hungry more often and overeat. Conversely, healthy foods help you to feel strong, energized, and satiated.
Additionally, all calories are not created equal. Calories from nutritious food sources will help you feel full longer, fuel your daily activity, and improve your well-being. Empty calories can leave you feeling hungry, increase your food cravings, and even increase fatigue. You’ll find them in processed foods that contain added sugars, trans fat, excess fat, and calories. They may provide energy but not the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need.
What to Eat
Health experts recommend that you fill your plate with:7
- Colorful vegetables like leafy salad greens, bright peppers, crunchy carrots, or radishes (experiment to find flavors that you enjoy)
- Lean meats like chicken and fish, eating red meat in moderation
- Whole grains that provide fiber, such as oatmeal or whole-grain bread, or crackers
- Whole fruits rather than fruit juices or fruit-flavored snacks
- Nuts, seeds, and other sources of healthy fats, in small servings
- Water instead of sports drinks, sweetened tea, or soda
Eat four or five smaller meals throughout the day to keep your metabolism active and reduce hunger between meals. Avoid foods containing simple sugars or processed flour, alcohol, butter and fatty meats such as bacon or sausage. Instead, eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins.
How Many Calories Are in a Pound?
Every pound of body weight contains approximately 3,500 calories. However, when creating a calorie deficit, it’s important to still give your body proper nutrients, and not restrict too intensely.
The most important part of any weight loss plan is sustainability. Many people find reducing their average daily calorie intake by about 500 calories per day results in a loss of one pound per week. The math is simple: 500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories lost.
Calculating Your BMR for Weight Loss
The number of calories each individual burns per day is different depending on factors like age, size, sex, and activity level. Things like hunger hormones and medical conditions can also make it harder or easier for someone to lose weight. If you are trying to understand how to lose weight and manage your weight in the long term, you can get a general idea of how many total calories you should eat each day, to either maintain or lose weight, with the following formula:
- First find your BMR (basal metabolic rate: the amount of calories needed to perform your normal bodily functions at rest).
BMR = your current weight × 10
- Next, multiply your BMR by an activity factor.
BMR × 0.30 (for average daily activities)
- Last, add your BMR to your activity factor.
Cut your calories
Remember: Weight loss basically comes down to burning more calories than you take in, so you’ll need to cut back on your food intake in order to lose 20 pounds.
Since a pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, that’s the amount you’d need to burn to lose a pound. You can eat 500 fewer calories per day to make that happen in a week or 1,000 fewer calories per day to lose 2 pounds in a week.
Cutting more calories than that falls into crash-dieting territory, which generally isn’t recommended.
Up your protein
Protein helps you feel fuller longer — which can make it easier to avoid eating extra calories. And that can help you reach your get-lean goals.
Research shows high protein diets are tied to decreased belly fat, increased muscle mass, and higher metabolism during weight loss.
And you don’t need to go full-on Atkins to reap the benefits. One study found that upping protein intake significantly curbed people’s appetite and cravings.
Eat more fiber
Like protein, fiber is your BFF if you’re trying to lose weight. It moves through your gastrointestinal tract slowly to help you feel fuller longer, which can stave off the urge to snack, snack, snack.
So how much do you need? Research suggests that getting 28 grams or more of fiber per day can help reduce weight, trim inches, and prevent weight gain.
A cup of cooked oatmeal (4 grams of fiber), a cup of raspberries (8 grams), a quarter cup of cubed avocado (2.5 grams), and a cup of chickpeas (12.5 grams) will just about get you there.
Say goodbye to refined carbs
You probably already know it’s not a great idea to go overboard on the baked goods, white bread, white pasta, or white rice — especially if you’re trying to lose weight.
Refined carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, which can cause cravings and lead you to eat more than you need. And research has shown that people who eat more refined carbs tend to have more visceral fat than those who eat whole grains.
Drink more water
One of the many good reasons to stay hydrated: Water’s a proven hunger buster. Downing a glass of H2O can temporarily satisfy a rumbling tummy until it’s time for your next meal or snack, so you’re less tempted to reach for a handful of crackers or chips.
It can also take up space so you eat less at mealtime. In fact, one small study found that people who drank water before meals consumed fewer calories.
How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose 30 Pounds
Weight loss happens when you reduce your calorie intake below what you burn. To lose 30 pounds in three months, you’ll have to create a deficit of 8,750 calories per week — or about 1,250 calories per day.
For the average adult, who requires about 2,000 calories per day to maintain the current weight, a 1,250-calorie deficit is unhealthy and unsustainable because it would leave just 750 calories on which to live. In general, men need more calories per day than women, even when trying to lose weight.
But if you have a significant amount of weight to lose, chances are you burn more than the 2,000-calorie-per-day average. Consult with your physician or use an online basal metabolic calculator, which estimates your daily calorie maintenance needs, to ensure you burn at least 2,450 calories daily. This ensures you can safely trim the 1,250 calories daily to lose 30 pounds in three months.
Exercise to Assist in Weight Loss
If trimming the required number of calories is not possible for your frame, combine eating less with increased physical activity. Exercise boosts your daily calorie burn significantly.
Aim for 60 to 90 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic — such as brisk walking — on most days to burn more calories, along with regular strength training to maintain muscle. You can then reduce calories by only 500 to 1,000 per day to achieve the goal deficit of 1,250 calories per day.
How much of an increase in caloric burn you get from physical activity depends on your size and the intensity of the exercise. Note that if you’re already physically active and maintaining your weight, you’ll need to add more exercise duration or intensity to create a deficit that promotes loss. Consulting a personal trainer is helpful for recommendations about what types of exercise will benefit you the most and be safe for your current level of physical fitness.
Choosing a Weight-Loss Diet Plan
A sensible weight-loss plan teaches you reasonable, maintainable habits so you’ll stay in control of your weight your whole life. Drastic measures may bring immediate results, but they’re more likely to lead to serious consequences, such as low energy, muscle loss, irritability, diminished immunity, inability to concentrate and binges.
If you don’t learn to manage your eating and exercise, chances are you’ll gain all 30 pounds back — and possibly more. Go with a plan that’s sensible, doesn’t ban entire food groups, and is appropriate for your lifestyle and schedule. For example, a plan that requires lots of nightly cooking when you work 12-hour days and have children may be unsustainable and set you up for failure.
Diet plans that provide a tool for monitoring — whether it’s a food journal, a counselor or online tracker — help keep you from straying, too. To lose a significant amount of weight in a relatively short period, like three months, accountability is key.
The free LIVESTRONG MyPlate calorie tracker app for iPhone and Android has helped millions of people lose weight the healthy way — by getting support from an active community as they track their eating and exercise. Consistently a top-rated app, MyPlate offers the latest technology in an easy-to-use tool that includes millions of foods and recipes, 5-minute in-app workouts and a robust support community.
Sample Diet Plan
How many calories you eat to lose the 30 pounds in three months is really tailored to your size, calorie needs and activity level. A sensible approach, though, usually includes eating a 2- to 4-ounce serving of protein, at least 1/2 cup of whole grains or starchy vegetable, 1 to 2 teaspoons of an unsaturated fat, and 1 to 2 cups of leafy or nonstarchy veggies at each meal.
Quality protein foods include white fish, chicken breast, lean steak, white-meat pork, tofu and egg whites. Opt for brown rice, oatmeal, quinoa and 100 percent whole-wheat bread for whole grains or sweet potatoes, winter squash or peas as starchy vegetables.
Leafy and nonstarchy vegetables include lettuce, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, green beans, asparagus. For healthy, unsaturated fats, choose olive and avocado oil, nut butters, raw nuts or seeds and avocados.
Your daily meal plan might consist of an egg white omelet with chopped peppers, mushrooms and tomatoes and a slice of whole-wheat toast topped with 2 teaspoons of almond butter; a tossed spinach salad with chicken breast, quinoa, olive oil and cucumbers; and flank steak, wild rice and steamed broccoli for dinner.
Although you’re trying to lose weight quickly, you can still indulge in snacks. Make them nutrient-rich choices, though, that are portion-controlled to keep calories low. Yogurt, fresh fruit — especially berries, which are low in calories — whole-grain crackers, hummus and almonds are some options to choose from. The number of calories you eat at snack time depends on your daily calorie limits.
Weight Loss Pitfalls
Your daily calorie needs are calculated according to your size. As your size shrinks with weight loss, your calorie needs change. To keep losing weight, you’ll need to adjust your calorie intake downward every time you lose five to 10 pounds.
Larsen notes that for every five pounds lost, you’ll need to decrease your intake by 25 to 50 calories. So, if you successfully lose weight when eating 1,600 calories per day at first, once you lose 15 to 20 pounds, you may have to reduce your intake by an additional 100 to 200 calories to keep dropping weight.
Even if you don’t reach your goal weight in three months, know that small changes can make a big health impact. The CDC notes that even losing 5 percent of your total body weight can lead to improvements in blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure. You’ve got this!
Health Benefits of Weight Loss
1. Your significant other might lose weight, too
Ever feel inspired (or guilty) by your partner’s incessant need to wake up at 5 a.m. to hit the gym and their refusal to grab chips or pasta when they run to the store? Well if you haven’t, then your partner may be the one feeling that push from you simply by bearing witness to your own transformation. If you’ve been successful at losing weight and continue to live a healthier lifestyle, chances are your significant other will follow suit, says Smith. If not, perhaps your parents, siblings, or close friends will feel motivated to whip their own butt into gear.
2. Fewer colds
Forget the vitamin C packets, nothing strengthens your immune system better than leading a healthy lifestyle. Getting your eight hours every night, fueling your body with fresh produce and lean protein, and working up a sweat will pump your immunity up far better than sipping on an orange, fizzy drink could.
3. Improved memory
For once you might actually remember your sister’s birthday! Weight-loss benefits go far beyond the physical. Losing weight and being more active boosts brainpower quite a bit. Research has shown that your memory gets sharper when total bodyweight has been reduced. So not only will you be happier all the time—remember, endorphins!—you’ll also remember that thing you really needed to do today, tomorrow, and the next.
4. Better wardrobe
The ultimate perk of peeling off the pounds is that behind closed doors you’re going to look pretty damn good. However, since we all can’t—or shouldn’t—walk around in our birthday suits all the time, it’s a good thing your wardrobe will reap the benefits of your weight loss, too. Losing weight often gives people the confidence to not only experiment more with style, but want to show off their weight loss with outfits that display the physique they worked so hard to get.
5. You’ll actually want to pass on the junk food
Did you really just say no to those Doritos? It might feel weird at first, but as a result of improving your dietary choices and flexing your willpower consistently, you’ll find that you don’t even crave the junk any more (at least not as often).
6. You’ll become a better cook
Unless you’re on a meal delivery plan, you’re going to have to cook for yourself if you want to slim down. Ordering in and eating out just won’t get you there, and you know that. Getting into the habit of buying groceries every week, planning and preparing healthy meals, and experimenting with different flavor and food combinations you’re bound to up your kitchen skills. (Though it might take a while to reach Top Chef status.)