The Definite Answer To How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day To Lose Weight

March 25, 2014 | 79 Comments

How many calories should I eat a day if I want to lose weight?

How many meals should I eat? Should I eat breakfast? What’s the word on caffeine? How about carbs, I heard those are bad for you.

Slow down buddy. Before you start worrying about any of that stuff, you need to get a firm grip on your calorie intake.

If you want to have any chance at successfully losing weight, you need to know the basics before worrying about all that other stuff.

You need to be able to answer this question – how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?

Calorie guidelines to lose weight

The following guidelines are to simply lose an average of about 1 pound per week.

The formula: Daily calorie intake to lose 1 pound per week = (your bodyweight in pounds) * 10-12

Complicated huh?

The truth is, there are a ton of fancy formulas and calculators out there to determine your daily calorie intake that take age, exercise frequency, and other factors into consideration, but I don’t like to complicate things, and this formula is as simple and effective as it gets.

Determining whether you should multiply by 10, 11, or 12 depends on your activity level.

• Multiply by 10 if… you don’t move. You barely exercise, maybe 1-2x per week. You sit at a desk all day. The most active part of your day is lifting up your fork.
• Multiply by 11 if… you move a little. You exercise 2-3x per week. You like to get up and move around a bit.
• Multiply by 12 if… you’re normal. You are fairly active. You exercise 3-5x per week.

So for example, if you’re a 180 pound man who lifts weights 3x per week, walks around the office, and stands up every once in a while, then you would eat approximately 2160 calories per day (180*12=2160) to lose 1 pound per week.

For the majority of people, multiplying by 12 should be fine. I only recommend people to start at 10 if they are truly inactive.

Do I really need to count calories?

Short answer = YES.

There are people out there who argue about the long term effectiveness of calorie counting as a lifestyle. They argue that calorie counting will lead to obsessive disorders, and argue that weight loss is not about how much you eat, but is instead more about the types of food you eat.

I personally don’t agree with any of that. I understand that there are more nutritionally dense foods out there and that there are certain foods that satiate hunger better than others,  but in the end, there’s no other way to lose fat than to eat in a calorie deficit.

Don’t ever let ANYONE tell you that you have to eat a specific food to lose weight. Over the past few months, I’ve drawn my fair share of criticism for telling people that a calorie is a calorie no matter what and I understand where those arguments are coming from.

I’ve literally had people email me to tell to go “fuck myself” for the advice I’m giving on this blog. Whenever I tried to reasonably explain myself, they would just throw arguments about food processing, insulin, and other crazy stuff in my face. Over time, I just ignored these people. It’s simply not worth my time and energy.

What I’m trying to say is that calorie counting isn’t going to make you crazy as long as you don’t make it crazy. Just follow the formula I laid out and make small adjustments along the way if necessary.

As time goes on you’ll get a natural feel for how many calories it takes for you to lose, gain, or maintain your weight. But when first starting out, you should definitely track your intake closely.

After you get firm grip on your daily calorie intake, you could start to incorporate other weight loss tactics like intermittent fastinginto your life.

Hopefully, this answers your question to how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight.

1. Diana says:

Hi Keith,
I’m 58, 5’7″ and weigh 137. For most of my life I only weighed 103 ponds, no matter what I ate or how much. I could never gain a pound until I hit my mid 50’s. Now I can’t lose a pound no matter what I do. All of my weight is in my stomach and thighs. I do have a partially obstructed upper bowel because of scar tissue from an operation years ago, but I haven’t had any problems for 3 years. Any suggestions? I do tend to skip meals as I’m more of a grazer and eat small meals throughout the day.

1. Keith says:

I’m not sure what your operation could have done but I do know that it’s much harder to know how much you’re actually eating when you’re grazing.

So be very aware of that.

1. Chithra says:

I am 74.5 in weight and 5.4 height .i want to lose my weight.i am a house wife taking all the jobs in home.how i lose my weight and how long to take. How many calories i need per day

1. Keith says:

I assume you mean 74.5 kg.

In that case, about 1600 calories per day.

2. Katarina says:

Hey thanks, idk if it will help but i will srsly try my best, Ive been struggeling with weigth some time now. And ive exercised a few times a week, and now I realise that the problem was the food. Thanks mate

3. Salina says:

2700??? I am 5 foot 9 and already weigh 270lbs…don’t need to take in 2700 calories…I wont lose anything taking that much in! Useless method!

1. Keith says:

And how much are you eating right now?

4. Farrukh says:

Do we use the current body weight or the lean body weight excluding fat when multiplying by 10, 11, 12?

5. Zamphie says:

I am 5″8 and weigh 280lbs will eating 2700 calories a day really help me loose weight along with exercise? I’m new to all this healthy eating and calorie counting thing but it’s time for a change I’m just wondering if I am going to loose weight exercising 6 times a week and eating 2700 calories or do I need less than that? Any help is tremendously appreciated

1. Keith says:

2700 is a good start, yes.

6. diana says:

Hi I weight 195 pounds 5 feet tall 52 yr old female started walking 2 miles 4x a wk how many calories do I need to eat to lose 1 pond a week how long will it take me to get to 140

1. Keith says:

You should start around 1800 calories.

7. Luis Guzman says:

Hi I’m 18 and I weigh 265 how much calories should I eat to lose weight

8. Luis Guzman says:

Hi I’m 18 years old my height is 5’11 I weigh 265 how much calories do I eat to lose weight please reply

9. androshi` says:

im on a diet right now and i would like to share what i have been doing.
i have had some good results on my diet , i have tried weight watchers points system and that didnt work for me ,then i tried the no carb diet and that didnt work either. i like carbs. especially rice.

now im on a calorie counting diet and i have some good results .
i have used this system of multiplying by 10 and it does work for me.

when i started dieting i would lose weight and then stop dieting and then gain the weight back again plus more!

well no more!
i have decided that this is NOT going to be “a diet” but “my life style”
and as hard as that conclusion came to me ,i also got a small comfort as well.

why give up what i have only for it to fade away?
i bet bodybuilders dont give up once they have muscles so…me neither!

my system is KNOW how many calories you need to survive.
how many calories it takes to stay “fat”.
how many calories it takes to lose 1 pound .
how many calories it takes to lose 2 or more pounds.

so once i figured out how many calories it takes to be thinner-
i found out how many calories do I EXPEND while exercising.

this is calories in -calories out!
so for a man who weights 260 pounds and he starts to dance for 1 full hour –
he expends 900 calories or more!

if this same man plays jump rope ,he loses 1200 calories –
if he runs for a full hour he expends 542 or more –

so finding out how many calories to eat is just HALF of the formula.
i eat any where from 1500 to 1800 calories per day.

1500 is what im looking for -but if i have to cheat -i usually stop by 1800 calories .

i also have a special time as to when I eat.
i dont eat until i have fasted from 14-16 hours-

let me explain this .

i dont eat pass 10 pm -at all ! nothing!
i dont eat until the next day at around 12 noon or if im feeling good 2 pm –
this is the fasting part.
when im fasting ,my body is feeding on my body and what ever stored fat or EXTRA MUSCLE i dont need -it feeds on that too.

this is called “intermittent fasting” +”calorie counting”
now this might seem “extreme dieting” to some people
but im only 5’7 and i started this lifestyle when i was 278 and extremely scared i was going to one of those people who are going to be “MORBIDLY OBESE” and with heart troubles and cant walk and do things.

i have found great success with this .
i am now 260 lbs.
i would have been less had I not cheated twice because of a family gathering.
(funny how 2 kid parties could make you gain weight!)

anyway ,i lose anywhere from a half a pound to one full pound per day!
if i exercise ,be active ,on the day in question its a full pound i lose –
if its a lazy day and im doing nothing special physically –
i lose half a pound .
thats 8 oz -in case you dont want to count ounces- but you should count ounces!
to me thats a win too.

so ,why the 1500 calories?
a person who is 150 pounds multiplied by 10 =1500 calories.
its so simple!

i drink black coffee for the caffeine.
i have coffee scrub for my body.
i have a scale to weigh my food properly.
hoodia tea will zap my appetite for a good 2 hours.
acupressure ,all i do is massage my outer ears and that’s supposed to suppress appetite as well.
i have a step box for aerobic stepping
i have a stationary bike that i go on every day.
a sweat belt that makes my stomach sweat.
i could always go to the doctor to have my stomach put the sleeve on it -but it doesn’t empower me mentally at all!
i have hypnosis audios .
i have prayers that i do.
and you might see me chanting “something” as im walking down the street.

i have a count down calendar that starts from 100 and goes down to 1-
this is good if your giving yourself 100 days to lose weight.

i also have another list,a list of numbers from 278 down to 175
and when i get to lose a pound i cross that number out with a X –
thats always fun!!

i have candles that have little numbers on the side of the candle it reads
“1 pound, 2 pounds,3 pounds. and so forth down to 10”
on the other side of the candle is the weight i should be as well.

i burned out one candle losing the 10 plus pounds –
now im still on a different candle and when i burn out this canlde i will be twenty pounds lighter.
i have 10 candles dressed with numbers and weight in pounds i would like to be and lose –

i have black river rocks. what i want to do is label each rock with a weight and a sign that reads “5 LBS” -and as i lose 5 pounds i will place the river rocks in a beautiful glass dish ,symbolizing how much i weigh and how much i lost.

hope this helps and inspire you people.

10. g.murtaza says:

My age is 62years, Height is 5f-6 inches.I am diabetic and hypertension since 2001 on the ward but on medication regular physicians checking.my weight is 100kg, I want to reduce how I can.kindly email me my diet control and calories to eat per day

1. Keith says:

I would consult your doctor.

11. Jan says:

I would generally agree. I have been counting calories for about 20 years of my life (since 13). I did so religiously at first, and then, over the years, I internalized it as a fairly comfortable part of my life… just like brushing my teeth. It takes no more than 5 minutes of my day… and, most of all, it helped me understand what goes into my system. It helps me stay motivated when I know I am cutting down calories for specific seasonal purposes etc. Overall, the more understanding you have over your bodily box, the more in charge you are. Nothing crazy about it, so long as you don’t start bouncing your head against the wall over that Snickers bar you could not leave alone.

12. Jacque says:

I have never been successful at just counting calories. I have found success by counting calories and cutting out bread and sugar.

1. Keith says:

that can def work, especially if you used to eat a lot of sugar and bread.

13. naidine says:

hi I found you website. I’m 131 lbs right now eating healthy.
I want to lost faster down to at least 100 lbs I’m 46 years old and at @ 4’11 height..how many calories do I need to eat..i also excerise 6 days a week consist of 3-4 times of body pump ,3 times a week of combat and Zumba/dancing …sometime cycling or body attack…

please email me the answer thanks….

1. Keith says:

start at 1300-1500 calories per day.

14. grace says:

i’m 5’7 and 160lbs, i wanna get to 145, how many calories shoukd i take in to reach that goal?

1. Keith says:

1600-1800 per day

15. Kayla Markey says:

While these calorie counts might work for overweight people, they get drastically low if you are relatively lower in weight. Which makes sense, I guess, since losing 1 lb per week would probably be too much for someone my size. I weight about 101 lbs and would like to drop to 95 (I am very short), work out a lot, but according to this I should only eat 1200 calories a day! I know from my doctors that this would be dangerously low after exercising. Maybe okay for a day with no exercise, but not after a long run or weights, even when aiming to lose weight.

1. Keith says:

How short? Chances are you would do and feel a lot better if you built up some muscle.

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