How many calories should you eat to lose weight? So you’re ready to get serious about losing weight and you’re thinking, where on earth do I even start? Well, the short answer is: in the kitchen. Sure, exercising is important to help you develop a healthier cardiovascular system and body, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, the battle to lose your muffin top will ultimately start, continue and end in the kitchen.
One of the most important things when preparing your food is making sure that you’re hitting a caloric deficit. What this means is that you’re eating fewer calories than your body burns in a day. Sound simple right? Well, it turns out that it isn’t actually as simple as we think it is.
Wait, What’s a Calorie? How many calories should you eat to lose weight?
Good question. We hear the word “calorie” get thrown around a lot, especially by doctors and fitness experts. Essentially, calories are units of energy found in the food that you consume daily. A calorie count gives you the measurement of energy content that a particular type of food or beverage includes.
At the same time, calories are also the unit of measurement used to determine how much energy your body burns in an exercise session or throughout the day at rest. So, if you want to lose weight, the goal is to create a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit basically means that you’re consuming fewer calories than your body burns in a day.
Should You Even Be Counting Calories?
It’s important to get all your facts straight before you even starting something new. For example, is it really a good idea for you to start counting calories? There’s actually a pretty good reason that some people discourage counting calories, the most prominence of which is that it could be a gateway to an eating disorder.
It’s a slippery slope from conscious calorie counting to a full blown eating disorder, especially when you make it a habit to obsess over what you eat and how many calories are in the food that you’re eating.
If you have a history of obsessive compulsiveness or eating disorders, then it’s probably best that you see a healthcare professional before pursuing calorie counting. Now, if this isn’t a problem for you and you truly feel that calorie counting is going to help keep yourself on track with your weight loss journey, then here’s how to calculate for the number of calories you should be eating in a day.
How to Calculate for Your Caloric Intake
Get Your BMR
When you want to compute for how many calories you should be eating in a day, the first thing you should do is figure out what your BMR (basal metabolic rate) is. Your BMR is the number of calories that your burns when it’s at rest. A simple equation that you can use to compute for your basal metabolic rate is as follows:
BMR = (10 x weight in kilograms) + (6.25 x height in centimeters) – (5 x age) – 161
Let’s say that you’re a 27-year-old who weights 60 kilograms and is 156 centimeters tall. Your equation would look like this:
BMR = (10 x 60) + (6.25 x 156) – (5 x 27) – 161, BMR = 600 + 975 – 135 – 161, BMR = 1,279.
For this woman, her basal metabolic rate is 1,279 calories, which means that her daily caloric intake should never fall below this number. A good rule of thumb to follow is for you to never eat less than 1,200 calories per day. In fact, the average person needs over 1,200 calories to keep their physical body healthy. Eating less than this amount result in some serious damage to your metabolism and a decrease in your body’s muscle mass.
factor in Your Regular Physical Activity
The next thing you need to figure out is how much regular activity you get in daily. For example, do you go to yoga regularly? Do you take a daily walk? Figure out how much calories this burns for your body and all these to your BMR. There are many online calculators that you can use to figure out how many calories certain activities will burn depending on your weight.
Create Your Caloric Deficit
Losing weight requires cutting calories, so if your goal is to lose one pound of fat a week, then you need to consider just many calories are in a pound of fat. There are 3,500 calories in just a single pound of fat, so this would mean that you’ll need to create a caloric deficit of at least 500 calories a day to hit your goal weight loss. However, people often make the mistake of thinking that the only way to create a caloric deficit is to eat less.
In fact, the best way to create a caloric deficit is by throwing in exercise. For example, let’s say that your BMR is 1,300 and you burn roughly 400 calories per day through exercise. This would mean that you should eat 1,200 calories per day to hit your 1-pound a week weight loss goal. What this does is it allows you to eat more calories throughout the day and still stay on track with your goals.
It’s Not Just About Calories
One important thing to remember is that losing weight isn’t just about the number of calories you eat. While calorie counting certainly plays a large role, it’s also important to take stock of where you’re getting your calories from. For example, you could be staying within your required calories but eating junk the whole day. Sure, you’re creative a caloric deficit, but you’re not doing your body any favors by fueling it with junk either.
In fact, you may even do your body more harm than good by choosing to feed yourself with unhealthy food. Apart from counting your calories, you should also make sure that your getting your daily caloric intake from whole foods. As much as possible, you should ingest a majority of your calories from vegetables and foods that are high in fiber. Not only do you maintain your caloric deficit, but you also increase your satiety.