Estimating Caloric Intake For Weight Loss

4 Sep


Estimating your daily caloric needs is a great way to establish a useful benchmark and take the guesswork out of how many calories you should be eating in order to lose weight. It’s also easy to do, because there are many online tools for it that aren’t hard to use. Just enter such variables as your age, gender, height, current weight, goal weight and activity level, and the calculations are done for you.

Once you get an estimate of how many calories you need to eat in order to maintain your current weight, you can easily extrapolate how many calories you require for weight loss. One pound equals 3,500 calories, so in order to lose weight at a rate of one pound per week, you need to burn off 3,500 calories more than you take in. Divided by 7 days, this comes to a 500-calorie daily deficit. If you wish to lose 2 pounds per week, you need to double that and create a 1,000-calorie-per-day deficit. Using myself as an example, I’m a very active 44-year-old male who stands 5’ 11” tall and weighs 185 pounds, and I need an estimated 3,136 calories in order to maintain my current weight. To lose one pound per week, I would have to cut my daily intake to 2,636 calories per day; to lose 2 pounds per week, I would have to cut it down to 2,136 calories per day. For healthy, sustainable weight loss, aiming for more than 2 pounds per week is generally not recommended.

You should aim to get 45-65% of your calories from carbohydrates, 10-35% of your calories from protein, and 20-35% of your calories from fat. The mainstay of your diet should be nutrition-dense foods such as fruits and vegetables. Aim for 9 servings per day. Conversely, you should try to limit your intake of saturated fat to no more than 7% of your overall caloric intake, and eat sweets and desserts only sparingly.


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