How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?

Why can’t I lose weight? How many calories should i eat to lose weight? Do i look fat? Should i blame my parents because I’m fat?

They say fat people have no one to blame for their weight issues but themselves. We, the fat people, disagree vehemently. We have the mouth-watering, sumptuous food to blame. And of course, our genes.

Let’s talk about food though. Be honest with yourself; is it even remotely possible to resist the aroma of freshly baked bread topped with melted butter? Likewise, the pleasure of munching on cheese fries is incomparable to any other feeling in the world. I mean it’s an established fact that food boosts your mood. We are but innocent victims.

In all honesty, we, the foodies, celebrate eating. We consider it rude to say no to food. However, there is a dark side to our obsession, i.e., as we give in to our cravings for glorious food, we helplessly watch ourselves getting bigger and bigger each day – something we are definitely not okay with.

A calorie is a unit of energy. It measures the energy content of the food you are eating. In order to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body can burn.

Now since we know that calories are a unit of energy, we can safely assume that in order to gain weight, you need more energy. Likewise, if you want to lose weight, more calories should leave your body than enter it.

How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight?

In order to know how many calories you should eat per day, you need to understand the basics such as:

Determining How Many Calories You Should Eat A Day: If your body burns 1500 calories a day but you eat only 1200 calories, you are creating a calorie deficit of 300 calories a day. You will lose weight. On the other hand, if your body burns 1500 calories per day but you eat 1800 calories a day, you’re creating a calorie surplus of 300 calories. These extra calories will contribute to the dreaded muffin-top and weight gain.

As if our irrepressible calorie-intake was not bad enough, we are also couch potatoes. Unfortunately, no scientifically proven way promises an endless consumption of food and retention of an ideal body weight. Amidst such dark scenario and our fixation with food, maintaining a normal body mass index (BMI) is a constant struggle for most of us pudgy-pals!

In our desperation, we head towards the gym, sign up for expensive diet plans and starve ourselves to death. I know from my personal experience that shedding extra pounds can be a real pain in the neck. While exercise is great for your body, it is not the key to losing weight. The key to losing weight is counting and limiting your calories. That’s my success story.

You’re Not Alone

As much as you may loathe yourself for being grossly fat, you should know you are not alone. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 78.6 million Americans are in the same league as you, i.e., almost one-third fellow over-weights in your country.

Obesity is most prevalent in Black (47.8%) and least common in Asians (10.8%). Compared to adolescents and elderly, obesity is most common in middle-aged people (40-59 years).

How many Calories Should i eat to lose Weight


However, do not let these stats make you complacent. Not being alone does not mean you are not at risk for various obesity-related complications, some of which are really scary such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, Diabetes mellitus and type 2 diabetes.

When Being A “Loser” Becomes Necessary

Let’s admit it, this world is not a nice place to live for “heavy” people. On daily basis, we get mocked. Often times, we are the butt of fat-shaming,acerbic jokes. Jokes that would otherwise have been funny, had they been evasive and not-so-direct. We are fat but we are sensitive too. Nobody likes criticism, particularly when it is incessant and coming from people very close to us.

It thus becomes necessary to lose weight. You will notice that being a loser is not always a bad thing. In fact, sometimes you have to lose to win.

Losing weight is particularly important; it not only makes you look good, it also wards off plenty of diseases. Being in shape has numerous health benefits – it fights depression, releases happy chemicals called endorphins, boosts energy, and makes your heart happy and body work more efficiently.

Exercise Or Calorie Counting — What’s Better?

Let’s now come to the tricky question; which one is better for a weight loss –exercise or calorie counting? Athletes and weight-loss gurus swear by the effectiveness of exercise, while others, such as myself, vouch for calorie-counting for safe and healthy weight loss.

The truth is; both are necessary. Exercise and calorie count go hand-in-hand for successful weight loss. Doctors and researchers agree that a combination of exercise and diet is mandatory for a significant and clinically meaningful weight loss. Without one, the other is meaningless.

So, if you are planning on losing weight, do not rule out either; go for both exercise and diet control.

How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight? Does Counting Calories Work?

Speaking from a personal experience, yes it does. But before we delve into it, let us find out what calories are and why it is important that you count them.


That being said, cutting down on calories without making healthy food choices is not a substantial way to lose weight.

According to the CDC, if you want to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you take in. For instance, if you want to lose about 1 to 2 pounds per week, you should go for what is called a “calorie-deficit”, i.e., reduce your caloric intake by 500—1000 calories per day. One pound equals 3500 calories.

The easiest way to determine the number of calories you should be eating to create a calorie-deficit is to use calorie-counters or calorie calculators such as My Fitness Pal andFitWatch Calorie Deficit Calculator.  The calorie-counter and the weight loss calculator take into account your age, height, weight, activity level, daily calorie needs and calorie deficit.


How many Calories Should i eat to lose Weight


  • Determining Your Daily Macronutrient Ratios: It means what proportion of carbs, fats and protein you should eat every day. While it is not important for creating a calorie-deficit, it’s all about maintain a healthy diet. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a healthy diet constitutes of at least 400 gm of fruits and vegetables, less than 10% of total intake from sugar, less than 30% of total intake from fats and less than 5 grams of salt per day. Given these standard proportions, many health experts believe that for a healthy weight loss, you should cut down the number to 50% carbs, 30% proteins, and 20% fat. This is a good baseline start for people who have never counted their calories.
  • Tracking Your Calories: Now that you know about the calories and the proportion of macronutrients you need in a day, the next thing is to track your calories. There are several ways you can track your calories, such as with:
    • Online Calorie Trackers
    • Calorie Counting Journals, i.e.,Printable Standard Food Diary and the Printable Customized Food Diary
    • Food journals, i.e.,DIETMINDER Personal Food & Fitness Journal and The Calorie King Food & Exercise Journal
  • TrackingYour Progress and Making Changes: If you have never counted your calories before, you will be astonished to see the figures. Once you have started tracking, you will realize how much you have been overeating over all those years. And once you will find out how many calories you need and how much you’re (over)eating, you’ll automatically start to watch your portion sizes.

Tracking your food and progress is highly important to sustain a smooth weight loss. After a week or a month, take your measurements. Given that you have been sticking to diet control and tracking, you should lose a couple of pounds.

Do’s and Don’ts of Counting calories

Counting calories can be a complicated business, particularly for newbies. According to an International Food Information Council Foundation report, an approximate 67% of Americans count calories while making food purchases. However, nearly nine out of 10 have no idea of the exact number of calories they actually need.

If you are new to calorie-counting, here are the do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind:


How many Calories Should i eat to lose Weight


Don’t Rely On Memory: As you begin counting your calories, first thing you need to do is to always note down the precise count in your journal. It’s hard to remember what you ate throughout the day. Relying on your memory will never be fruitful if you want to know exactly what and how much you ate.

Do Get a Portable Calorie-Tracking Gadget: And better use it just before you have meals. This way you will know the exact number of calories you are going to consume. You can then decide to limit them. The portable device should be easy to carry; it can either be a food diary or a downloaded app.

Don’t Use Guesswork to Calculate Portion Sizes: People often underestimate portion sizes. This underestimation leads to overeating. Never use guesswork. Always find out the number of calories before you start eating.

Do read nutrition labels: These are your best bet on the most accurate calorie content per portion serving.

Don’t Forget to Log Snacks, sandwich fixings, nibbles and even salads.

Do Breakdown Major Nutrients: You need to know how much proteins, sugar and fats you consume each day. You should add fiber to your diet and eliminate trans-fat for a quick and safe weight loss.

Don’t Limit Yourself to Just Calorie Counting: Add exercise to your routine as well. Try to be as physically active as you can. Kiss goodbye to being a couch potato.

Ideal Weight For Your Height

For starters, you cannot accurately determine how much you should weigh by merely looking at a height-weight chart. A lot of things count such as your muscle mass, amount of bones and fats in your body.

The amount of fat is the critical measurement because it’s the fat you want to lose, and not the lean body mass. A good indicator of body fat is the body mass index (BMI). Although not perfect, the BMI gives a fairly accurate assessment of how much of your body is composed of fat.

A BMI calculator measures your body mass against your height. A normal BMI range is from 18.5 to 24.5. Having a BMI more than the upper range means you are overweight or obese.

Men Calorie Count

An average man needs 2000-2500 calories to maintain weight, and less than 2000 to lose one pound of weight per week.


How many Calories Should i eat to lose Weight

How Many Calories Should I Eat To Lose Weight: For Women

An average woman needs to eat about 1500-2000 calories per day to maintain weight; 1200-1500 to lose one pound per week.

How many Calories Should i eat to lose Weight

Calorie Count

As you grow old, you need fewer calories because of lower basal metabolic rate and comparatively less active lifestyle. According to National Institute of Health, a man over 50 years should consume:

2000 calories per day If he is physically inactive
2200-2400 calories per day If he is somewhat active
2400-2800 calories per day If he is physically active


A woman above 50 should eat:

1600 calories per day If physically inactive
1800 calories per day If somewhat active
2000-2200 calories per day If physically active


However, this depends on a number of factors, such as age, BMI, metabolic health, activity levels and several others.

Simple 1200 Calorie Diet

National Institute of Health recommends a diet based on 1000-1200 calories daily for effective and safe weight loss. This is because 1200 calories per day not only provide adequate nutrition for most of the individuals, they also restrict the calorie count to the level required for weight loss.

Below is the list of the three healthy 1200-calorie diet plans developed and endorsed by nutritionists and health professionals.

Recipe #1:


  • Take a little less than a cup of bran flakes (around ¾)
  • 1 Banana
  • 1 Cup fat-free milk


  • 1 Mini whole-wheat pita sandwich stuffed with 2-3 ounces of turkey breast, 1/2 roasted carrot or pepper, 1 teaspoon light mayonnaise or mustard and lettuce
  • 1 Stick mozzarella cheese
  • 1 Apple or 2 kiwifruits


  • 4 Ounces broiled flounder or sole
  • 1 Cup couscous
  • 2 Sliced plum tomatoes sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Cup steamed broccoli
  • 1 Cup of fat-free pudding



  • Take half English muffin. Spread with 1 teaspoon, light butter or margarine
  • Take a cup of smoothie blended with frozen berries, a half banana, and 8 ounces of fat-free milk


  • 1 Cup vegetable soup
  • 1 Veggie burger with lettuce
  • 6 Ounces light yogurt
  • 15 Grapes


  • Boneless BBQ chicken breast with sauce and grill with a half cup baked bean and 3 small boiled potatoes topped with a pinch of dill and light margarine.



Cook 1/2 cup of oats dipped in 3/4 cup fat-free milk. Add a half chopped together with a teaspoon of honey and a pinch of cinnamon


  • Take vegetable salad with chunks of chicken breast (around 4 ounces). Add 1/4 cup red grapes, 5 tablespoon almonds, and 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise or fat-free sour cream. Serve with lettuce.
  • 1 Banana


  • Steamed shrimp – 4 ounces
  • 1 Baked potato topped with 1 tablespoon fat-free sour cream and 3 tablespoons salsa
  • Steamed spinach – 3 cups
  • 1 Low-fat frozen fudge bar

Different Types of Diet Plans

  • Fixed Menu Diet: Consists of a list of all the foods you will eat. This is an easy-to-follow diet since it pre-selects food for you. However, with a fixed-menu diet, you get a few food choices. This makes it rather boring. Besides, it does not teach you food-selection skills, particularly if you are seeking to lose weight. Among various diet plans, fixed-menu diet is just a starter, you should eventually switch to a plan that gives you better choices to make your own meal plans.
  • Exchange Diet: This type of meal plan sets a number of servings from several food groups such as “starch or protein category”. Each group contains an array of foods that are equal in calories. For instance, the “starch” category includes either one slice of bread or 1/2 cup of oatmeal; both are equal in nutritional value and calories.

If you need two starch choices for your meal, you can pick two slices or one slice with a half cup of oatmeal to make up for the calories.

The advantage of Exchange-type diet is that it is easy to follow and gives a day-to-day variety. It also teaches the food selection skills necessary to keep your weight off.

  • Prepackaged or Meal Delivery Diet Plan: This meal plan entails buying prepackaged meals. It can give you a pretty clear idea of what portion size you should consume. However, it is really costly. Before you start this meal plan, determine your needs, the cost of pre-packaged meal and whether it will teach you how to select and prepare food.
  • Calorie-restricted (CR) Diet: This dietary regimen is based on limiting daily calorie intake. This is one of the best regimens for weight loss. It also helps halt aging. While the energy intake is minimized in this type, sufficient quantities of vitamins, mineral and other important nutrients are eaten to replenish the body. Studies in mice have shown CR to extend life span and speed up weight loss.
  • Mediterranean Diet: comprises a high intake (i.e., daily) of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and olive oil, a moderate consumption (at least twice each week) of fish and seafood and moderate-to-low consumption (once a week) of poultry and dairy products and very-low intake of high-fat, high-sugar diet such as meats and sweets.

Mediterranean diet is heart-healthy and apart from keeping plenty of diseases at bay, it aids in weight loss.

Weight Loss Tips If You Have a Medical Condition

Weight loss can be a real challenge if you have a medical condition, such as diabetes mellitus, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), hypertension and hypothyroidism. You would need a detailed session with your therapist and a nutritionist to find out a way around your weight.

Diabetes: People with diabetes are always in a fix about what to eat. Maintaining an ideal body weight remains a persistent struggle for diabetics. Doctors recommend that patients with type 1 diabetes should have or 16 calories per pound of body weight per day (or35 calories per kg of body weight per day).

For effective weight loss, people with type 2 diabetes should consume around 1500-1800 calories per day. Of all the macronutrients, carbohydrates should make 40-60% of total daily calories. Counting carbohydrates is mandatory for diabetic patients.

It’s important to determine your current activity level before you begin diet plan in diabetes. The U.S. Dietary Guideline has outlined a diet chart for your age and activity level. It can be found here.

Hypertension: Doctors recommend Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet for all hypertensive patients. The DASH diet includes eating more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole-grain foods, fish and poultry, while limiting the intake of foods rich in high-saturated fat, cholesterol and trans-fats. It’s also important for hypertensive patients to reduce the intake of salt (1500 mg or 2/3 tablespoons per day), sweets, sugary drinks and red meats.

Studies have shown that people on DASH diet exhibit a substantial decrease in blood pressure over two weeks.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS):PCOS is a common hormonal disorder that affects one in every 10 girls of reproductive age. Girls with this disorder are always struggling to lose weight. Plenty of research is done on PCOS and weight loss.

One study has found that compared to the standard diet, women who maintain a high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio in their diet have a great weight loss.  Another study suggests a dietary intake of 1200-1500 in women with PCOS for effective weight loss. If you want to maintain weight in PCOS, experts suggest a daily intake of 1800 calories.

A research carried out at Tel Aviv University found that meal timing had a great impact on insulin resistance, and thus weight loss, in obese women with PCOS. Women who consumed high-protein and high-carb diet in the morning followed by a gradual reduction in the calorie intake throughout the day had a dramatic improvement in insulin resistance as well as ovulation.

Hypothyroidism: An underactive thyroid gland is associated with a quick weight gain in patients with hypothyroidism. For an average adult weighing 160 pounds (73 kg), experts recommend 1900 calories per day to maintain body weight. To lose weight, you need to cut down 5 calories per kilogram.

A weight loss, even if it is moderate, results in mood improvement and a reduction in depression in patients with hypothyroidism.

iPhone AndAndroid Apps For Counting Calories

Smartphone apps are really a smart way to track your calories. According to one study, a group of 158 patients was asked to track their weight loss over the course of six months. People who used a smartphone app or a journal or any other tracking device showed a remarkable adherence and commitment to the plan, i.e., 93%. The other group relying on memory and guess work showed a 53% adherence.

Millions of people have achieved their weight loss goal with these apps. The apps have a huge database of foods, recipes and widgets to track your calories, weight, and exercise.

If you too want to stay committed, you must install one of the following best weight-loss and calorie counter apps on your phone today

  • My Fitness Pal
  • Lose It!
  • SparkPeople
  • FatSecret
  • Fooducate
  • Noom Coach
  • Nutrition Menu
  • My Net Diary
  • My Diet Diary

Can You Lose Weight Without Counting Calories?

Just like the question, the answer is very simple. Yes, you can lose weight without counting calories. It’s called losing weight on ‘auto-pilot’. Here are seven proven ways to lose weight without dieting:

  1. You should eat less and move more.
  2. Eat eggs in the breakfast. Drop bagels. Research has shown that egg-based breakfasts offer more satiety and create a sufficient calorie-deficit.
  3. Trick your brain but using a small platter. The smaller your plate, the more your brain will think you have eaten. By eating in a small platter, you trick your brain into feeling more satisfied.
  4. Eat more protein.
  5. Cut down on carbs. This is the quickest method for weight loss. Studies have consistently shown that people who eat less carbs, lose weight without any major effort.
  6. Eat low-density food and plenty of fiber. Studies prove that vegetables rich in fiber speed up weight loss.
  7. Avoid stress and get a good night sleep. Stress hormone, or cortisol, is the real culprit for weight gain in most of us. Research has shown that poor sleep increases hunger pangs and cravings that pave way for obesity.

Weight Loss — Success Stories

Here is how these people lost hundreds of pounds. If they can, so can you. Their stories will inspire you:

Joanna Boyles – Knowing that she couldn’t afford a gym membership, Boyles, a mother of two built a gym-at-home. She brought dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands, and followed online exercise tutorials. “It’s all about changing your mindset”, she says. And with commitment and persistence, she lost over 45 pounds in a short period of time.

Maribel Contreras – Aged 38, Contreras has lost around 80 pounds in 12 weeks. She did this by signing up for a 12-week body transformation contest at a gym. What boosted her weight loss was a combination of intense exercise and a swap of her fast-food meals for healthier choices.

Jessica Oliver – 269 pounds, Oliver collapsed at her job one day. Next thing she knew, she woke up in an ER. Doctors told her she had a heart murmur and needed to lose weight. Her struggle is exemplary since it has been punctuated with efforts, hiccups, persistence and finally reward.

Ever since she had a daughter in 2008, she started to take 15-minute walk daily, signed up for various health programs and lost 138 pounds. As of now, she is at the top of her game and has successfully run two marathons. Now that’s impressive.

Helping Your Dog Lose Weight

Lastly, if you have been successful in losing weight yourself, you can employ the “same method” on your fat, lazy and sleepy dog. Help yourself, help your pet. This is a cruel, cruel world for fat dogs.

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