It can be frustrating losing weight when you don’t know how many calories you should eat per day!
If you eat too many calories, your body will store them as fat cells. If you eat too few, it won’t have the energy to function at its best and your metabolism will slow down significantly.
But how much do you need? There is a “magic number” that can be used to figure out this number for each person based on their age, height, sex, and activity level.
Notice that type of diet is not a variable. The truth is that as much I am a proponent of a plant-based diet, this doesn’t have an effect on how many calories should you eat to lose weight.
Today you will learn how to calculate your own personal calorie needs so that you can make sure that they are in line with what the experts recommend!
Can I Eat More If I Exercise Every Day?
I am a proponent of incorporating exercise into your routine if you want to lose weight. And if you work out, your body will need more calories and nutrients to fuel it.
In fact, not exercising and/or eating too few calories while trying to lose weight can lead to muscle loss.
Also, if you are close to your ideal weight, it might become difficult to restrict your calorie intake, and burning calories through exercise might become necessary.
Unfortunately, some fake gurus will tell you that you can eat as much as you want and not gain weight.
You CAN eat more if you exercise regularly. However, to lose weight, you still need to burn more calories or eat fewer calories than the amount required for the maintenance of your current body weight.
How Many Calories Should You Eat To Lose Weight?
If you want to know how many calories should you eat to lose weight on a plant-based diet, use myfitnesspal.com. It’s free and easy. If you sign-up, and you fill out your diet profile, it will spit out personalized nutrition and fitness goal.
Once you have signed up, click on the “Goals” tab, then click on “View Guided Setup”, and fill out the information.
Finally, click “Update Profile”, and get your very own personalized plan!
You need to keep a food journal to keep track of everything you eat throughout the day.
If you cook; you need to note how many calories do each of the ingredients that you are using have. Use measuring tools and/or a food scale.
Chain restaurants will have the number of calories already listed on their food menu.
And grocery-bought frozen dinner meals will also already have the calories listed on the food label (just remember to check the number of servings).
If you want to learn more about how online calculators figure out how many calories you should eat in a day to lose weight, I explain the science in the section below.
How Does Weight Loss Work?
To lose weight, you eat fewer calories than you burn. However, your body needs calories for energy, so never starve yourself!
Calories are just a measure of the amount of energy provided by the food you eat, and of course the more calories you eat, the more energy you are providing your body.
With that being said, if you give your body more energy than it can use, whatever you do not use will eventually be stored as fat.
First thing’s first, you need to figure out how many calories your body is burning.
The number of calories you burn in a day is your active metabolic rate (AMR). Note that rates vary from person to person, so it is very important that you take the time to figure yours out.
We will need to do some math, but I promise it won’t be hard. Your Active Metabolic Rate (AMR) considers the following 3 factors:
1. Basal Metabolic Rate
If you sat on the sofa and watched Netflix the whole day doing nothing, your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is how many calories your body would burn to keep basic activities going, like heartbeat, respiration, tissue repair, and digestion.
Several factors will influence your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), such as age, weight, height, gender, diet and exercise habits, and environmental temperature.
Here are the formulas for figuring out your Basal Metabolic Rate:
Female: 655 + (4.3 x weight in Ibs.) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
Male: 66 + (6.3 x weight in Ibs.) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)
2. Daily Activity Level
The second factor is about how physically active you are in your everyday life, not counting exercise, which comes later.
Take a look at the descriptions down below to see which one fits your daily routine, and then give yourself the appropriate score.
A. Sedentary Activity Level
Does your job require you to sit down for most of the day? If yes, your score is 1.1.
That’s me. I work in an office and sit in my cubicle all day long. I only get up to go to the restroom or to go talk to a coworker.
B. Light Activity Level
Are you walking around or standing on your feet for half the day or more? If that is you, your score is 1.2.
Some examples of people that would fall into this category are stay-at-home parents, hotel lobby ambassadors, cashiers, and salespeople.
C. Moderate Activity Level
Are you walking around all day long? If that is you, your score is 1.3.
If you are a guest room attendant, a carpenter, or a mail carrier, that means you are on the move pretty much all day long and barely have time to sit down and put your feet up.
D. High Activity Level
Does your job involve significant amounts of manual labor? If this is you, your score is 1.4.
Some examples of people that would fall into this category are lumberjacks, athletes and sports competitors, construction workers, farmworkers, and movers.
Write down your daily physical activity level score along with your BMR. Let’s continue.
3. Exercise Expenditure
The final factor is the number of calories you burn from exercise on an average day.
The most effective way to calculate the calories you have burned during each exercise is with a heart rate monitor.
You can also use a fitness tracker such as your Apple Watch or Fitbit.
All you need to do is simply program it with your personal information, and then it will give you a much more accurate account of the calories you torch.
The chart below can also help you figure out how many calories you burn from exercise based on your current weight, the type of workout you perform, and the duration.
You should now have 3 numbers written down, your BRM, your daily physical activity level, and your exercise expenditure.
The last calculation you need to do is:
Active Metabolic Rate (AMR) =BMR x Daily Activity Score + Exercise Expenditure
Use the Active Metabolic Rate (AMR) to help you calculate how many calories you need to eat in a day.
How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day To Lose 2 Pounds A Week?
A pound of fat = 3,500 calories.
If your goal is to lose 2 pounds in a week, you will need to build up a caloric deficit of 7,000 calories.
You can also think about it as eating 1,000 calories less per day (7,000 / 7 = 1,000).
For example, if your weekly AMR (your daily AMR x 7) is 17,500, and you want to lose 2 pounds, you must limit your weekly caloric intake to 10,500 (your weekly AMR minus 7,000).
You just have to make sure that you do not eat over 10,500 calories during the week, and you will lose those 2 annoying pounds.
Here is how I would break the numbers down:
- Monday: 1,400 calories
- Tuesday: 1,400 calories
- Wednesday: 1,400 calories
- Thursday: 1,400 calories
- Friday: 1,700 calories
- Saturday: 1,600 calories
- Sunday: 1,600 calories
- Total weekly caloric intake: 10,500
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- If you a man, never let your caloric intake drop below 1,500 and 1,200. If you are a woman, restricting yourself too much might slow down your metabolism.
- Never go too long without eating.
- Never skip meals and always eat breakfast.
Weight loss can be as easy as a middle school math problem. Figuring out your AMR is the most basic step you can on your journey to losing weight.
The key to weight loss is calorie restriction.
The most basic step you can take on your journey to losing weight is calculating your AMR, which will allow you to know how many calories a day you need for it to be considered healthy and sustainable without affecting your metabolism.
To calculate how many calories should you eat to lose weight, I suggest you use the free tool myfitnesspal.com.
Keep in mind that although the type of diet that you follow is not a deciding factor on whether you will lose weight, following a plant-based low-calorie diet will positively affect your overall health.
Let me know what your results were or if you have any further questions in the comment sections below!