How many calories should I eat to lose weight?

Your fitness level has a lot to do with calorie and weight control. Determining how many calories to eat is an individual thing because each of us is biochemically different with different metabolism rates. There is a rule of thumb that you should eat about 1,700 to 1,800 calories per day to lose weight. This may or may not work for you. The best way to lose weight is eat a balanced nutritional menu and exercise.

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There have been literally thousands of studies on weight lost with many reporting that those who ate between 1,700 to 1,800 calories per day lost on average of 73 pounds and were able to keep it off. Why? Because being persistent with this regimen changed their eating habits – something diets do not do!

Let’s look at it this way: the rule of thumb is that you need to burn 3,500 to lose one pound of body weight. Suppose you are Sam and need 2,000 calories per day to maintain a body weight of 180 pounds. Theoretically, if you ate 2,000 calories per day, you would need to exercise to lose more weight. Thus, a combination of Sam eating 1,800 calories per day, which is 200 calories short of what he needs and exercising at an average level of 20-30 minutes per day would burn about 300 calories, putting him at a 500 calorie per day deficit. This would mean that he would lose about one pound per week. A healthy weight loss is about 1-3 pounds per week, not more.

Studies show also that people generally underestimate their calorie consumption by 20-30%. Thus, when people believe they are eating about 1400 calories per day, they are really eating about 1600-1800 calories per day.

Women are generally smaller than men and thus, need less calories. This is important to realize. Typically, women have less dense muscles and overall, smaller muscles compared to men. This is not a gender biased assumption but based on basic facts. However, there are exceptions and you should know if you are one of them. Because of this, women generally need less calories than men. Would it surprise you to know that a great number and men and women consume about the same number of daily calories? Would it also surprise you to know that the average calorie intake in the U.S. is 4,000 calories per day? This is almost twice the needed calories.

The average man should consume about 2050 – 2250 calories a day. This assumes a height of 5 ft 10 inches and average weight of 185 pounds. Did you know that at 5’ 10” that a man is generally 7 lbs per inch in body weight after that height and women at an average height of 5’ 5’ weight 125 pounds and add 5 lbs per inch for every inch after 5 ft in height. This is a good way to approximate how much you should weigh. However, please not that is you have larger bones or greater muscle density, this will not be accurate as it is for the ‘average.’
General ways to reduce calories and lose weight:

• Count calories.
• Count fat grams.
• Focus on portion control. Eat what you want, but limit quantity.
• Limit certain foods or types of food.

What is the amount of fat, protein and carbohydrates you should have?
On average, as a more active person the following is a good guide for daily nutrition:

• 25% of calories from fat.
• 25% of calories from protein.
• 50% of calories from carbohydrates.

If you are vegan, focus more on legumes for more plant protein, as well as cheese, eggs, yogurt, butter, and other foods for fat and protein.

As a note, as an omnivore, you don’t have to give up carbohydrates to lose weight. Focus on the type of carbohydrates you are eating. This mean you should choose more whole grains, leafy green vegetables, etc. and choose fewer refined grains. Limit sweets such as cookies, cakes, and other sources of refined grains.

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