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
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.