How Many Calories Should I Eat A Day To Lose Weight?

by Jeff on November 20, 2010

The advantage to restricting calorie intake to is that you can eat whatever you want as long as it's in the right amount.

Question: “So how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?”

Answer: “To lose 1 pound of fat in 1 week, you need to create a 500 calorie deficit per day for a week. A 500 calorie deficit over 7 days equals to 3500 calories. A pound of fat contains 3500 calories.”

Counting calories on a daily basis is great if you’re only trying to lose that last 5 pounds. Losing 5 pounds only takes 1 month if you incorporate some exercise.

I will include an example below on exactly how to count calories. The benefit of counting calories is that you can eat anything you want as long as it’s in the right amount.

If you’re trying to lose more than 5 pounds, counting calories can be extremely difficult. You will understand ‘why this is’ when you get to the section, “How To Apply This Information” and “What Happens When You Eat Too Much“.

If you are trying to lose more than 5 pounds, I talk about a better alternative at the end of this article.

So here is the overview of this post. The 2 main topics are:

  1. How to count calories and apply the principles
  2. A better weight loss alternative if you want to lose more than 5 pounds 

How To Create A Calorie Deficit

Eating less calories creates a calorie deficit. When your body runs on a calorie deficit, it will burn the stored fat for energy. This is the process helps you lose weight.

You need to know your Resting Metabolic Rate (also known as Basal Metabolic Rate) if you want to create this calorie deficit.

In order to calculate your exact Resting Metabolic Rate, you would need to make multiple trips to a physiology lab. However, you can accurately estimate your Resting Metabolic Rate. I have a chart here that you can use to create an accurate estimate.

2 Powerful Tips For Your Calorie Counting Success

The -15% Rule – The labels on packaged food items are an estimate of how many calories there are. 

The manufacturer is required to include at minimum, the amount of food that is labelled. Sometimes, the amount of calories can be 15% more than what is labelled. In order to successfully lose weight, you need to overestimate how many calories you are taking in by around 10%-15%.

Eat More Protein – Eat more lean meat for your own sanity. Protein keeps you fuller for a longer period of time.

When you’re creating a calorie deficit on a daily basis, this can help you tremendously. Not to mention the fact that protein has a greater thermic effect (your body burns more calories processing protein than fat or carbs). If 2 people are eating the same amount of calories, the person with the highest amount of protein in their diet will have better results. Here is a paper that suggests this.

How to Apply This Information

Let’s do a case study so that I can show you how to apply all of this information. The subject will be a 5’4″ woman:

  1. For a woman that is 5’4″, your RMR should be around 1315 calories a day.
  2. When you create a 500 calorie deficit, you are looking to eat 815 cals/day.
  3. After applying the ‘15% rule’ and you’re aiming for 692.75 cals/day.

What Happens When You Eat Too Much?

Let’s continue with the case study above:

If you eat more than 692.75 a day, you must carry over the difference to the next day (if you want to meet the weekly goal of a 3500 calorie deficit). For example, you ate 1000 calories today (307.25 calories in excess).

For the next day, you have to take this into consideration and carry over the excess:

692.75 (calorie goal/day) – 307.25 (excess from the day before) = 322.5 (new calorie goal for the day).

***To put this into perspective…a little juicebox contains 150 calories.

This is why I said that calorie counting can be extremely difficult if you are trying to lose more than 5 lbs at the beginning of this article.

I will be talking about a better alternative below, but if you’re still interested in Counting Calories To Lose weight, I highly recommend the book: “Anything Goes Diet”.

The Best Resource on Counting Calories

I talked about the basics of counting calories and 2 powerful tips that can help you succeed. I learned all of this from a book called the “Anything Goes Diet“. It’s not my book so I can’t give to much away, but if you’re interested, there are 7 more powerful tips that will help you succeed. Check out the Anything Goes Diet Website, John Barban (the author) gives a cool video presentation about his weight loss experience and his book.

The Alternative Approach to Weight Loss – Eating The Smart Way

If you eat the smart way, you can eat until you’re satisfied, get healthier and lose weight at the same time.

But in order for this to take place, you need to have a better understanding of food and how it interacts with your body.

If you have a better understanding of food, you will have a lot more freedom when it comes to eating. You will know how to incorporate foods like bacon, burgers, and dessert foods in your meals so that you can still lose weight and get healthier.

I won’t be able to cover this entire subject in one post. However, I will talk about one of my favourite books on this topic, ‘The Diet Solution Program‘.

The system is based on a concept called ‘metabolic typing‘, which says that some people need more fat/protein in their diets and other people need more carbs.

Knowing your metabolic type will allow you to create the right ‘macronutrient-ratios’ in your meals; how much fat, protein and carbs to have in each meal for your specific body to function optimally. Everyone’s body has slightly different requirements, your meals need to be customized to suit you.

What I like about this book is that it’s very comprehensive. A simple explanation of the concept will not help you make progress.

As you probably noticed in this post, it can be difficult to apply the concepts of counting calories if I didn’t include the section on ‘How To Apply This Information‘ with the case study.

The Diet Solution Program explains the concepts clearly and it also includes the resources that helps you apply the system. It is complete with:

  1. Detailed Meal Plans for 20 Days
  2. Exactly what to look for when grocery shopping (what to look for in breads/pastas, dairy, meats/poultry/fish, oils, butter, sweetners, etc…)
  3. A Recipe Book that you can use to plan your own meals. This includes recipes for all kinds of meat, eggs, salad, vegetables, and beans. If this wasn’t enough, there is a member’s section where the author and other members share their recipes. There are a lot of great recipes for desserts made using smart ingredients.
So if you want to eat until you’re satisfied, get healthier and lose weight at the same time by eating the smart way, check out The Diet Solution Program website. There is a very interesting and helpful video presentation that talks more in-depth about this method and and the author.

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