How Many Calories Should I Eat Each Day for Weight Loss?
What are calories?
A calorie is a unit of energy. It is used to measure how much energy we get through food consumption and how much energy we expend throughout the day. Your body requires fuel to sustain bodily functions like maintaining blood circulation, breathing, and physical activity(1).
What is a calorie deficit?
When you are in a calorie deficit, you eat less food and thus burn more calories than you eat daily. Your body needs the energy to support activities at rest, such as breathing, circulation, and digestion. You also need the energy to move your body to perform daily functions and exercise. In a caloric deficit, the body utilizes fat to release the energy it requires, allowing you to lose fat and weight. To achieve a caloric deficit, you need to reduce your calorie intake in addition to exercise. Being in a calorie deficit is important to meeting your weight loss goals.
For example, you may require 2,000 calories daily to maintain your weight. If you wanted to lose weight, however, you would need to eat less than 2,000 calories to shed the pounds. Additionally, physical activity can help to burn more calories. For maximal results, you should be in a caloric deficit and exercise frequently.
Why should you use a calorie deficit calculator?
There are many reasons why you might want to utilize a calorie deficit calculator. For a lot of people, keeping track of their calories is a great way to ensure they are eating the correct amount to support their weight loss goals. Others may just want to ensure they are intaking a diet that is adequate to support their energy needs. Regardless of the reason, using a calculator can help.
Many people believe that everyone should eat roughly 2,000 calories per day. However, this is not always true and different people will have different caloric requirements. Specifically, if your goal is weight loss, you would benefit from eating in a caloric deficit for maximal weight loss. However, calculating the calories to lose weight can be tricky, as there are various factors to consider. Things like muscle composition, body fat, daily activity, and metabolism can all affect how many calories we burn and need. Additionally, as your body changes, so will your caloric requirements.
If you are using this calculator for weight loss, it is important to continue using this calculator throughout your journey. The calculator can help to understand if your weight loss goals are realistic and the diet you need to maintain to meet those goals. Our calculator aims to simplify the variables and the math regardless of what your goals are. After entering just a few numbers and checking a few boxes, you can have a strong estimate of how many calories you need to intake daily to maintain a proper calorie deficit(2).
How to use our calorie deficit calculator
Our calculator takes into account your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the amount of calories your body burns at rest as it undergoes basic life-sustaining functions. To calculate this value, the calculator takes into account age, height, and weight. The calculator also considers how quickly you hope to lose weight and your average physical activity levels.
Using our calculator to determine your calorie requirements is relatively easy. Just input some personal information to generate a calories intake estimate. The list below includes step-by-step instructions on how to plug in your information.
Step 1: Select your desired unit of measurement. Imperial means that the measurement is described in terms of pounds, hours, and minutes. Metric means that the measurement is described in terms of kilograms, hours, and minutes.
Step 2: Select your gender.
Step 3: Enter your weight in the unit of measurement selected above.
Step 4: Input your height.
Step 5: Enter your age.
Step 6: Select an option that best describes your activity levels.
Step 7: Within the drop-down menu, select the calorie deficit or the amount of calories you would like to decrease to achieve your weight loss goals.
Step 8: Click “Calculate”.
The calculator will then output the amount of calories you require to sustain your present body weight and the calorie deficit you would require to lose weight. You will pick one of these values to incorporate into your diet plan, depending on your goals.
Understanding the results
After inputting your information, our calculator will provide you with the number of calories that you may require depending on your goals. The calculator with output the amount of calories you require to sustain your present body weight and the calorie deficit you would require to lose weight. Happy with your results? That’s great! If you would like to adjust the calories from what was outputted from the calculator, try changing some variables. For example, you could increase the amount of exercise you do each week and this may adjust your caloric requirements. Playing around with the calculator can help you to tailor your diet and fitness plan to match your weight loss goals.
Explaining related information
Now that you know how many calories you need to eat each day, it is important to understand how different factors can increase or decrease your caloric deficit. Knowing these details can help you to make informed decisions about your health and fitness. We outline below how certain aspects of your body composition and activity levels can influence your energy requirements and results.
Gender: Males typically have a 5 to 10 percent higher caloric requirement than women. This is because men tend to have higher muscle mass and less body fat.
Age: Caloric requirements are typically the greatest at age 25. Every 10 years thereafter, needs decrease by roughly two percent. Additionally, as we age our body replaces muscle with fat.
Activity levels: The type, duration, and intensity of physical activity can affect how many calories you burn. It is important to consider the type and frequency of exercise that you do to understand how many calories you burn so that you can adequately replenish them(3).
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I be in a caloric deficit?
Reduce your calories
Simply eating less food each day can aid in weight loss. In fact, no physical activity is required to lose weight if you are intaking a proper diet that is tailored to your goals. However, most experts recommend doing both to achieve maximal results and achieve them faster. Additionally, exercise has both physical and mental benefits.
Increase how much you exercise
Physical activity is the best way to burn a lot of calories at once. If you love eating and want to continue eating the same amount, physical activity is the way to do so. Any exercise is good exercise. Below is a list of the best types of exercise to do for weight loss:
- Jogging or running
- Weight training
- Interval training
Eat less and exercise more
To see the most profound results, you’ll want to both reduce your calorie intake and increase how much you exercise. This is the best way to maintain balance in your life through both food and activity levels. Research suggests that diet and exercise together can improve weight loss better than a single method alone. This is because exercise boosts your metabolism, causing increased burning of fat.
Drink more water
When you drink enough water, your body sends your brain messages that it is satiated. When you feel full, you are less likely to eat as much food as you would if you were hungry. Therefore, water can help maintain satiety and stop you from ingesting more calories. In addition, maintaining hydration can also help with weight loss. If you are dehydrated, your body will mistake dehydration for hunger, causing you to overeat. Having water readily available in a bottle can increase fluid intake. You may even try selecting a bottle with a straw to make drinking water even easier.
Water can also be a great replacement for high-calorie drinks such as soda and energy beverages. A lot of beverages have added sugars that can increase your calorie intake and make weight loss difficult. Replacing these drinks with water is an easy way to quickly decrease your calories.
Track your progress
Keeping a diary of your weight loss plan and activity can help you to understand what’s working and what’s not. In this journal, we recommend inputting your weight, caloric intake, and daily activity. This can help you track our progress and make adjustments to your weight loss plan as needed.
What are empty calories?
While in a calorie deficit, it is important to make the most of the calories you eat. Therefore, the best way to feel full and satiated after eating is to avoid empty calories. Empty calories are calories that come from food and beverages that lack nutrients. Empty calories still have calories, but they will not provide any nutritional value or fuel. Candy, for example, contains empty calories because it does not contain essential vitamins, minerals, protein, or fiber.
Take jelly beans, for example. Fifteen jelly beans equals roughly 160 calories, most of which comes from sugar. A quarter cup of raisins has 122 calories. Raisins are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber in addition to some sugar. The health benefits of the raisins far exceed those of the candy(4).
How low can my calorie deficit go?
While your goal may be to lose weight, your body still requires sufficient amounts of food and nutrients to function and be healthy. Therefore, any intake that is less than what is recommended could potentially be dangerous. Typically, women should not eat less than 1,200 calories daily, and men should not eat less than 1,500 calories daily. If you eat less than this, you will lose weight too quickly which is not sustainable. This can lead to the rapid regaining of weight upon resuming a normal diet.
Additionally, if you do not eat enough you may develop nutritional deficiencies because you are not consuming enough daily to properly fuel your body. This can cause unwanted side effects due to inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals2. Not eating enough calories can cause:
- Certain deficiencies. If you are not getting enough vitamins and minerals through your diet, your body cannot function properly. For example, bone mass can be affected.
- Slowed metabolism
- Brain fog. If your brain is not getting the fuel it needs, this can manifest as poor cognition and focus(5). This is the body’s way of telling you that you are undernourished and need more food.
If you are in a calorie deficit, you should also look out for signs that you are eating enough. Signs that you are not eating enough include:
- Poor cognition
- Low energy
- Hair loss
- Brittle nails
- Amenorrhea (loss of a woman’s period)
- Dizziness (5)
Should I be in a calorie deficit forever?
You do not need to stay in a calorie deficit forever, nor should you. The general rule of thumb is to only be in a calorie deficit until you reach your weight loss goals. Being in a calorie deficit for too long can also be damaging to your both your physical and mental health. For example, being restrictive with your food intake for an extended period can ruin your relationship with food. While food is a useful tool in weight loss, it is also meant to be enjoyed (6).
Other calorie calculators
- Hiking Calorie Calculator
- Calories Calculator: How Many Calories Should I Eat Each Day?
- Calories Burned Biking Calculator
- Jumping Rope Calories Burned Calculator
- Calories Burned Running Calculator
- Calories Absorbed By Fiber Calculator
- Recommended Calorie Breakdown Calculator
- Calories Burned Today Calculator
- Calories per Day Calculator
- Calorie Composition Calculator
It is no secret that maintaining a healthy weight promotes your well-being. If your goal is weight loss, maintaining a calorie deficit throughout your journey will help you meet lose weight more effectively. Additionally, it is always best to incorporate physical activity into your weight loss plan. Exercise and diet together are the best ways to lose weight fast. Our calculator takes into account the numerous factors that can affect your calorie deficit including gender, weight, height, age, and activity levels. Using a calculator will help you to meet your weight loss goals quickly and efficiently.
- Weight management: Finding the healthy balance: practical applications for nutrition, food science and culinary professionals. (2013). Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-391882-6.00010-8
- How many calories to eat per day calculator. (2021, October 15). Fitness Volt. https://fitnessvolt.com/how-many-calories-per-day/
- Calorie counting made easy. (2008, February 14). Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/calorie-counting-made-easy
- Nutrition.gov | USDA. (n.d.). Retrieved November 2, 2021, from https://www.nutrition.gov/
- Saunders, J., & Smith, T. (2010). Malnutrition: Causes and consequences. Clinical Medicine, 10(6), 624–627. https://doi.org/10.7861/clinmedicine.10-6-624
- CDC. (2021, September 23). Cutting calories. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/healthy_eating/cutting_calories.html