To Lose Weight How Many Calories Should I Burn A Day


To lose weight how many calories should i burn a day? Worrying about losing weight should never make you feel like you’re on a diet. Both the words “diet” and “dieting” have negative connotations, which can affect your mental state and resistant to weight loss. A good way to focus on losing weight is to focus on burning more calories each day. It’s a positive mind set that will help you stay committed to your healthy lifestyle. Here’s how to burn the necessary number of calories each day to arrive at your desired weight loss goal!

How many calories should you burn to lose weight?

If your goal is to lose weight and you’re tracking calories, then you have to burn more calories than you consume, creating a deficit. To do this, you should take into account your basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body burns at rest. Then factor in how many calories you’re eating per day. 

Once you have the total calories you burn at rest and eat in a week (multiply your BMR by 7 and calorie intake by 7) you can adjust your calorie intake and workouts so that you’re burning about 2,000 calories a week, which is the goal that Taylor gives most clients.

According to Taylor, aiming to lose 1 to 2 pounds each week is a healthy goal. One pound equals 3,500 calories, and you can split up how you create that deficit. She recommends burning 2,000 calories per week by exercising, and then trimming 1,500 calories a week from your diet, which breaks down to about 214 fewer calories per day.

A general rule is to aim to burn 400 to 500 calories, five days a week during your workouts. Remember, the number of calories you burn in a workout depends on your weight, sex, age and many other factors, but this number is a good starting place. For example, a man who weighs 200 pounds is going to burn more calories doing the same workout as a woman who weighs 130 pounds. 

“Everybody is different, which is why it is super important to work with certified professionals to personalize a program for you, monitor your program, make suggestions as you go and make alterations if needed,” Taylor says.

How to track calorie burn when you exercise

Most fitness trackers, including the Fitbit, Apple Watch and Whoop, will tell you your calorie burn for each workout. This is typically based on your heart rate and other personal information you entered into the device settings when you set it up (like your weight, age and sex). Taylor says she’s a fan of the Polar heart-rate monitor since chest-strap monitors (like Polar) tend to be more accurate than trackers you wear on your wrist. None of those devices are perfectly accurate, but they can get you close.

You can also use an online calculator where you select the type of workout, your age, sex and weight and the duration of the workout.

According to Taylor, the main factors that determine how many calories you burn during a workout include:

Heart rate training zone: Your heart rate zones show “how hard you are pushing and recovery periods,” Taylor says. “Your heart rate changes daily so knowing how much you are burning and what zones you are training in will only help you achieve your goals that much faster.” 

Your natural resting heart rate: Everyone has a unique resting heart rate, and a normal range is between 60 and 100 beats per minute. If you have a higher resting heart rate, Taylor says your workout will need to adjust accordingly. “These clients typically elevate rather quickly and stay in higher burning zones longer, so they need breaks more frequently,” Taylor says.

Your weight: “If someone weighs 120 pounds then they will burn less per hour than someone who weighs 180 pounds,” Taylor says.

Types of workouts: “How you are training matters,” Taylor says. This is why you should opt for a fitness routine that factors in cardio as well as strength training, even if strength training doesn’t burn as many calories as your cardio workout. TheBuilding up more muscle over time will help you burn more calories when you’re at rest.

How to Calculate Your Daily Calorie Burn

The total number of calories you burn in a day depends on things like your age, height and weight, muscle mass and how much you exercise, according to Kansas State University.

There are several formulas to calculate your exact total daily energy expenditure, or TDEE (more on that in a minute), but there’s also a simpler method based only on body weight. While it’s not as accurate, it can give you a starting point to work from without having to do a lot of math:

  • Daily calories burned:​ 15-16 per pound of body weight
  • Calories needed for weight loss:​ 12-13 per pound of body weight
  • Calories needed for weight gain:​ 18-19 per pound of body weight

To get a more exact idea of your TDEE, you need to know four things, per Kansas State University:

Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

Sometimes referred to as basal metabolic rate (BMR), this is the total number of calories your body needs each day just for basic functions (think: breathing, blinking, etc). In general, your RMR is higher if you’re younger and have more muscle, but your genetics plays a role, too.

RMR makes up the largest portion of your TDEE (about 60 percent), according to an April 2015 paper in ​Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

To calculate your RMR, you can use either the Harris-Benedict Equation or Mifflin-St Jeor Equation, per the National Academy of Sports Medicine:

Harris-Benedict Equation

  • People assigned male at birth (AMAB): 88.362 + (13.397 × weight in kg) + (4.799 × height in cm) – (5.677 × age in years)
  • People assigned female at birth (AFAB): 447.593 + (9.247 × weight in kg) + (3.098 × height in cm) – (4.330 × age in years)

Note that 1 kg is equal to 2.2 pounds, and 1 inch is 2.54 cm.

Mifflin-St Jeor Equation

  • People AMAB: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
  • People AFAB: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Thermic Effect of Food (TEF)

TEF is the calories your body uses to digest, absorb and store the nutrients from the food you eat. Certain foods have been shown to have a higher thermic effect than others, meaning your body burns more calories to process them. These include foods high in protein and fiber, especially.

TEF accounts for up to 10 percent of your TDEE, per the paper in ​Mayo Clinic Proceedings​.

Nonexercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT)

NEAT is the number of calories your body uses doing daily activities, like brushing your teeth, washing dishes and walking, according to the April 2015 paper in ​Mayo Clinic Proceedings​. This number varies greatly from person to person, and even from day to day, depending on your activity level.

Calories Burned During Exercise

Just how many calories you burn during a workout depends on how long and how intensely you exercise. Together with NEAT, the calories you burn during exercise makes up somewhere between 10 and 30 percent of your TDEE, per the paper in ​Mayo Clinic Proceedings​.

Calculate Your TDEE

Multiply your RMR by your activity level to get your estimated TDEE, per Kansas State University:

  • Sedentary:​ BMR x 1.2 (little or no exercise, desk job)
  • Lightly active:​ BMR x 1.375 (light exercise 1-3 days per week)
  • Moderately active:​ BMR x 1.55 (moderate exercise 6-7 days per week)
  • Very active:​ BMR x 1.725 (hard exercise every day, or exercising twice per day)
  • Extra active:​ BMR x 1.9 (hard exercise two or more times per day, or training for a marathon, triathlon, etc.)

How to Calculate Your Calories for Weight Loss

To lose weight, you’ll need to do some simple math and create a calorie deficit based on your TDEE, which means you burn more calories than you eat.

1. Find Your TDEE

First, calculate your total daily energy expenditure based on the formula above. This will give you your maintenance calories, or how many calories you need a day to maintain your current weight.

2. Subtract 500 to 1,000 Calories

One pound of fat is about 3,500 calories, according to the Mayo Clinic. So, if you want to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week (a generally healthy and sustainable goal), you need to burn between 500 and 1,000 calories more than you eat each day — or between 3,500 and 7,000 calories per week.

You can achieve this calorie deficit by eating fewer calories, burning more calories through NEAT and exercise or a combination of the two.

3. Keep Track

Weight-loss statistics show a food diary and a fitness tracker can help you monitor the calories you’re eating and burning each day and stay on track with your weight-loss goals.

4. Adjust When Necessary

As you lose weight, you’ll need to recalculate both your TDEE and how many calories you need to burn a day in order to keep losing weight.

How to Calculate Your Weekly Calorie Burn

Calculating how many calories you burn in a week is much the same as figuring out your daily calorie burn.

First, determine your RMR using the equation above. Then calculate your TDEE by multiplying your RMR by your activity level, per Kansas State University. From there, you can multiply your daily calorie burn by seven to scale it to a week.

For instance, someone who is lightly active every day would use this equation:

  • (BMR x 1.375) x 7

If your physical activity fluctuates from day to day, calculate your calorie burn using the appropriate activity multiplier for each day of the week. Then add these numbers together to determine your weekly calorie burn.

For example, if you’re lightly active four days a week and very active during the other three, you’d use this equation:

  • (BMR x 1.375) + (BMR x 1.375) + (BMR x 1.375) + (BMR x 1.375) + (BMR x 1.725) + (BMR x 1.725) + (BMR x 1.725)


Keep in mind that everybody is different, and weight and metabolism can be affected by factors like your genetics and environment. That’s why, if you’re struggling with weight loss, it’s a good idea to work with a registered dietitian, who can take all of your individual factors into account.

How many calories do you burn from daily activities?

As you can see in the above examples, a person’s activity level has a lot to do with how many calories they need each day.

Many people think they need to exercise hard to burn calories throughout the day.

While exercise does burn a lot of calories, your body also burns calories while you’re doing normal daily tasks. How much you burn has to do with how much you weigh.

For example, people will burn the following number of calories in 30 minutes of doing these tasks based on their weight:

Task125-pound (56.7-kg) person155-pound (70.3) person185-pound (83.9-kg) person
walking at 4.5 mph150186222
cleaning the gutters150186222
mowing the lawn135167200
washing the car135167200
walking at 4 mph135167200
walking at 3.5 mph120149178
playing with the kids (moderate activity)120149178
grocery shopping (with cart)105130155
sitting in meetings496072
light office work455667
computer work415161
standing in line384756
watching television232833

Note that your exercise habits affect how many calories you burn at rest. While aerobic activity may burn more calories during the training session, researchers have found that resistance exercise increases resting metabolic rate for up to 14 hours after exercising.

You can use an interactive online calculator to find out how many calories you’ll burn while doing different activities. To use it, simply input your activity, the time spent doing it, and your weight.

Do men burn more calories than women?

Yes, males and females burn calories at different rates. This is why sex is included as a variable in the equation, along with age and weight, which also affect the number of calories a person burns.

People assigned male at birth generally have less body fat than people assigned female at birth. They also tend to have more muscle mass. More muscle means the body burns a higher number of calories while at rest.

So, generally, males usually burn more calories than females overall. That said, a person’s body composition plays an important role, as do hormone levels.

Tips for losing weight

Losing weight isn’t always as simple as plugging numbers into a calculator.

The most effective way to lose weight and keep it off in the long term is to follow a balanced lifestyle that includes:

  • following a well-balanced diet
  • engaging in regular exercise
  • getting adequate quality sleep
  • effectively managing your stress levels

Some people also find these tips can help when they’re trying to lose weight:

  • reading labels to learn the nutritional facts about the foods you eat
  • keeping a food diary to see what you eat in a day and identify areas for improvement
  • choosing lower calorie options when choosing foods, such as skim milk instead of whole milk, air-popped popcorn instead of chips, and thin crust pizza instead of thick crust
  • reducing processed, high calorie, nutrient-poor foods like candy, cookies, and chips
  • being mindful of portion sizes to avoid overeating
  • putting food on a plate rather than eating it straight from the bag
  • using smaller plates and bowls
  • eating slowly and chewing food thoroughly
  • waiting at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds
  • making small, sustainable changes instead of favoring a crash diet
  • wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch to monitor your activity levels

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