One of the most common questions that I get is: how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?
There is no right answer since everybody has different daily energy requirements.
Those of you who are physically active might need more calories to function properly, while others might gain weight by eating just a few extra bits of chocolate cookie.
Let me introduce you to the world of calorie counting!
Caloric deficit is a term that indicates that the energy value of consumed food is less than the energy that your body uses, which ultimately results in weight loss.
To achieve a calorie deficit, food inputs matter as much as energy outputs.
If daily calorie deficit is low, then weight loss will be slow, and vice versa.
In case you follow a strict diet plan that is primarily based on having a big caloric deficit on a daily basis, then you have to be very careful because that might cause some health problems.
Keep in mind that high deficit over a long period of time might have a hazardous effect on your body. That’s why it’s important to consult a doctor or a professional nutritionist before starting any strict diet.
NEVER rely on your own feelings.
Example of calorific deficit
Here’s a simple example of daily calorie deficit: If you eat foods in the equivalent of 1800 calories per day and your body burns 2100 calories per day, then you will be in a calorie deficit of 300 calories per day.
1 pound of fat is about 3,500 calories.
To lose 1 lbs of body fat in 14 days, you’ll have to be in a caloric deficit of 250 calories every day.
Hmm…you might think well if I don’t eat for a few days, I might lose weight much faster?!?
Starvation can be destructive to your body and metabolism. It can even lead to more serious problems such as anorexia and muscle atrophy.
Also, switching between high-calorie and low-calorie days every now and then might result in higher accumulation of body fat.
You see, the human body is very smart.
Fat is energy. It helps us survive when we are not able to obtain food.
This is something we got from our ancestors when food wasn’t available every time the brain craved food.
That is one of the reasons why the body stores fat, so it will be able to survive in case of lack of food.
Camels have humps for the same reason. They eat rarely (starve), so they store food in their humps so they can survive during food crisis periods.
When we are hungry our bodies raise the level of the stress hormone called cortisol.
This little guy may have been responsible for accumulating abdominal fat, thinking: “who knows when this crazy person will starve me again, let me accumulate some fat as soon we get some food, just in case we run out of food for the next few days, so we can survive!”
How to properly determine calorie consumption and calorie deficiency?
Before you start, it’s essential to correctly determine what will be your daily calorie deficit target.
This value has to be carefully determined, to avoid having any negative consequences on metabolism, such as bulimia and anorexia.
Always keep in mind that your ultimate goal should be to have a healthier life, not just to quickly lose fat deposits.
The best way to achieve this is NOT to restrict food intake but to increase your daily activity – sports, running and so on.
Of course, this is something that should be determined by a nutritionist or a doctor, because everyone has different body weight starting points.
To have a healthy body, some of you might also need to reduce food intake and to substitute some foods with more healthier alternatives.
The point is that strict food restriction can have a negative impact on metabolism and overall body health.
Here is a free tool that will calculate how many calories your body consumes based on certain activities.
My recommendation is to gradually raise physical activity while at the same time choosing healthy foods.
Minimal daily calorie requirements
For most people, consuming less than 1500 calories daily can cause more harm than good.
One of the ways to calculate the daily calorie requirements is to use a free basal metabolic rate calculator.
If you have over 211 lbs then use this simple formula to calculate minimum calorie intake:
Multiply your body weight by 7.5. If your body weight is 220 lbs then: 220 x 7.5 = 1650 calories
If you have less than 200 lbs then the minimum is always 1500.
We are talking about healthy weight loss, so it’s not recommended to eat less than 1500 calories per day.
Remember, 1 pound of fat is about 3,500 calories.
The healthy rate of losing weight is about 2.5 pounds per week!
Everything more than that can lead to health problems.
Cardio and physical activity
Several scientific researches have confirmed that weight loss through caloric deficiency with increased physical activity is much healthier than following strict diets without any sports activity.
Running, jogging, aerobics and other training methods are predominantly attacking fat reserves.
This way fat can be efficiently eliminated from the body.
Most regular strict diets are short term and not effective because they also cause the loss of muscle tissue.
By practicing regular cardio physical activity such as running or swimming, you will lose not only the stubborn fat tissue but muscle mass as well.
However, physical activity reduces muscle mass on a much smaller scale compared to strict low-calorie diets.
That’s why the key is to balance.
Too much exercise and strict diets will burn fat but also cause muscle loss, health problems and weaker body.
It’s recommended that the calorie deficit per day is no greater than 1,000 calories, as this will mean a higher weight loss than the recommended 2.5 lbs per week.
Let it be an approximate value because we are all different.
In addition, there are differences between sexes and ages, so do not start with any weight loss plan by yourself without consulting an expert!
With professional help, you will prevent all unwanted effects that weight loss can have.
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