For all of you trying to find the Holy Grail of losing weight, it all burns down to one question – how many calories should I eat to lose weight? You wonder, is it really possible to count the number of calories you eat and ascertain weight loss? Or should you have a clearer idea of calories eaten and calories expended to know the ideal number? And if so, how will you know that number? Questions and more questions! We finally have all the answers for you, so here is an article that will give you complete details on how many calories should I eat to lose weight?
For weight loss, it isn’t just important to count calories in and calories out. You need to give attention to other details too, like the quality of calories you intake, the time at which you eat these calories, how many calories you burn and the methods for burning them and also a breakdown of where the calories are coming from (namely a closer look at your carbs, proteins and fats intake)
But that isn’t all. Your weight loss will also be affected by hormonal changes, your age, metabolic rate and physical activity. So we’ll tell you how to determine ‘how many calories should I eat to lose weight’ in an easy and precise way.
The simple Formula:
To begin with, there are 3 important questions you need to ask yourself before you can find out how many calories should I eat to lose weight. Let us take a closer look at them:
1. What is my weight loss goal?
You might want to lose 2 pounds a week or 20 pounds a month, there will be a certain figure you’ll have in mind when it comes to losing weight. Be warned; the numbers will only work if they are practical. For permanent weight loss, you need to try a balanced and slow approach that doesn’t involve crash dieting. Try checking out online calculators that require you to enter your current weight, age, sex and activity levels to give you the right target weight. Or, you could enter your current weight, goal weight, age and sex and it’ll give you the amount of time you need and calories every day to reach that goal weight in a healthy manner.
2. What are my activity levels?
To get a rough idea of the number of calories you need every day, you can try these simple formulas based on your activity level.
- No exercise – Goal Weight x 13
- Moderate exercise (3-4 times a week for an hour) – Goal Weight x 15
- Extensive exercise (7 days a week for 1/1.5 hours) – Goal Weight x 20
That is the rough estimate of the number of calories you need per day.
3. How many calories should I cut down?
Chart out the number of calories you intake for a whole week. Add up the calories and get to an average number. This is your caloric intake every day. Now, from this number, subtract the number of calories you need every day based on your activity levels (calculated in step 2). You will reach at the number of calories you need to cut down upon to lose weight. Now, cut down your weekly caloric intake to 1/3 rd this number.
For example – Your goal weight is 140 pounds. You have noted that you eat about 3000 calories per day. If you engage in moderate workouts, your daily caloric requirement is only 140 x 15 = 2100 calories. Now, 3000calories – 2100calories = 900 calories. Cut down 1/3 this number (which is 300 here) from your WEEKLY caloric intake.
By the third week, you will have successfully cut down all 900 calories from your diet, eating a diet that is just right as per your activity levels.
Tracking your progress:
You might have learnt how many calories should I eat to lose weight with the above method, but that alone isn’t enough. To ensure guaranteed weight loss, you will need to closely monitor your progress. To do that, we have a few suggestions:
- Weight yourself every Monday. Do this the first thing in the morning after you wake up, on an empty stomach. If you are engaging in the right exercises, eating ample protein and moderate amounts of carbohydrate and following the above mentioned formula to calculate how many calories should I eat to lose weight, you will notice that your weight will show a drop by the 2nd week.
- Should you find that you are not able to exercise for a couple of days in a row, make the necessary adjustments in your diet as well. if you want to stay on track with your weight loss goals, you have to understand that losing weight is all about eating lesser calories than what your body needs. Re-adjust the formula using calculation for no exercising and find out how many calories you should eat during the days when you are travelling or unable to exercise for some reason.
- Sometimes, the weighing scale will not really show you weight loss because while you have burned fat, you have also developed muscles due to your strength training regimen and the weight on the weighing scale hasn’t reduced. Don’t be disheartened, try a body fat caliper to make sure you are burning fats and eventually your weight loss that is happening in inches right now will reflect on the weighing scale too.
However, there are a few other things to consider when you want to learn ‘how many calories should I eat to lose weight’. Remember, in the beginning of this article we mentioned that losing weight isn’t just about counting calories – those going in and those going out. There are other factors at play here too! And while the above mentioned formula can give you a rough guide as to how much you should eat per day, it isn’t exactly fool proof.
Problem with calorie counting:
The problem with calorie counting begins in no time. Yes, it is the appropriate method to calculate ‘how many calories should I eat to lose weight’. But it isn’t the only consideration you should have. Why, you may ask? We’ll explain that too in detail:
- The formula doesn’t keep in mind your metabolic rate. Your metabolism is affected by your age, sex, hormones, activity levels, stress and even how many hours of sleep you get.
- Metabolic rate can reduce when you start cutting down calories over a long period of time, hence hindering with your weight loss goals
- The brain regulates the fat levels in our body and it ascertains that your hunger increases when these cells are low and that could be a problem.
- The biggest glitch – weighing every single food item so that you can calculate the number of calories going in every day.
The solution …
Now that we have figured out he problems with the above mentioned formula for ‘how many calories should I eat to lose weight’, we can also find a logical solution. This solution lies in understanding that Insulin is the gate keeper for your fat cells. It regulates blood sugar levels and also, when insulin level in the body increases the body’s fat cells start to store more fat. That is bad news!
Like we mentioned in the beginning, it isn’t just important to count the calories you need, but also to see where these calories are actually coming from. Yes, a small cookie might make up for 200 calories and you might skip a meal to balance that out, as per the formula. But then, what is that cookie doing to your blood sugar levels? It will cause a spike in insulin because of the sugars (and the extra calories will instantly turn to fat), and because it isn’t enough to really fill your tummy it will also cause a sudden drop in sugar levels resulting in cravings and acute hunger. Also, high insulin levels make it almost impossible for the fat cells to deplete, making them stay there despite your reduced caloric intake.
So, in conclusion, the best way to find answer to ‘How many calories should I eat to lose weight’ does not simply lies in doing the math of calories in and calories out, it also lies in understanding your metabolic rate and keeping a close eye on where the calories are coming from. It is ok to indulge once in a while. But make sure that you get your daily caloric intake from healthy sources of protein, carbohydrate and fats and not unnecessary fillers that give you only additional calories without any nutritional value or fibers.