How to Calculate Calories for Weight loss

How to Calculate Calories for Weight loss

When you have decided that you want to lose weight, it is a good thing to start out by calculating your calorie requirement per day to find out how much of a deficit you will need for your weight loss.

I’ll try to keep this short and simple, so it is easy to understand for everybody.

1st – Calculating your BMR

The first thing to do, is to calculate your BMR, which is short for Basal Metabolic Rate. It is the amount of energy or calories your body burns just by being alive (and doing nothing). To find your BMR you can use an online calculator which uses your height, weight, age and gender. Please note that it is only an estimate.

I used this calculator from MyFitnessPal or you can simply use another site, just search for ‘BMR calculator’.

My BMR is currently at 1391 calories/day. This is how many calories I’m burning just by doing nothing. Now we have to know our total daily calorie requirement, which is also how many calories we will need to maintain our current weight.

2nd – Calculating your total daily calorie requirement

For this step you have to take your BMR number and multiply it with your level of activity. The level of activity is how much exercise you are doing right now and planning for your weight loss.

Level of exercise Multiply factor
Rarely 1.2
1-3 days per week 1.375
3-5 days per week 1.55
6-7 days per week 1.725
Every day or often twice a day 1.9

For me, I exercise 1-3 days per week at the lowest. I like to pick the lowest because on weeks where I get in more exercise I’ll just have a bigger deficit than planned. Anyway, you have to take your BMR  number and multiply it with the factor for the level of exercise.

For me, the calculation would look like this: 1391 calories x 1.375 = 1913 calories/day.

That means that my total daily calorie requirement is 1913 calories I would need to eat in a day to maintain my current weight.

But because we want to lose weight, we go to step #3.

3rd – Creating the right Calorie deficit for you

In this step you have to think hard about how fast you want to lose weight. Please don’t just pick the fastest way, for many people that doesn’t work or last for long. I think it is better to pick a normal steady peace and lose weight in a healthy way. But it is your body, so it’s all up to you.

Daily Calorie Requirement 10% Caloric Deficit 20% Caloric Deficit 25% Caloric Deficit
2000 calories/day 200 calorie deficit = 1800 calories/day 400 calorie deficit = 1600 calories/day 500 calorie deficit = 1500 calories/day
2500 calories/day 250 calorie deficit = 2250 calories/day 500 calorie deficit = 2000 calories/day 625 calorie deficit = 1875 calories/day
3000 calories/day 300 calorie deficit = 2700 calories/day 600 calorie deficit = 2400 calories/day 750 calorie deficit = 2250 calories/day
3500 calories/day 350 calorie deficit = 3150 calories/day 700 calorie deficit = 2800 calories/day 875 calorie deficit = 2625 calories/day
4000 calories/day 400 calorie deficit = 3600 calories/day 800 calorie deficit = 3200 calories/day 1000 calorie deficit = 3000 calories/day

As you can see on the table, the higher daily calorie requirement you have, the greater the deficit will be to lose weight. The percentage of the calorie deficit also decides how long it will take you to lose weight. You can calculate your own deficit based on the table like this:

[your daily calorie requirement] x [percentage caloric deficit] / 100 = your calorie deficit.

Then take your calorie deficit and subtract from your daily calorie requirement like this:

[your daily calorie requirement] – [your calorie deficit] = how many calories you can eat per day.

Just to show you an example, my calorie deficit equation would look like this:

1913 x 25 / 100 = 478 calorie deficit and then it would be 1913 – 478 = 1435 calories that I can eat per day.

Your calorie deficit should be from both exercise and diet. There is two ways to make a calorie deficit and that’s by ‘saving’ the calories (not consuming them) and by burning them (exercise). For a healthy weight loss it is recommended that your deficit should be from both exercise and diet. That means from my 478 calorie deficit which I have, I can choose to either save them or burn them. I do a combination of both and how I do that is by only consuming my 1435 calories per day and then on days where I exercise and burn more calories, I consume more calories than on days where I don’t work out.

Let me explain:

Days where I don’t work out (rest days) – Consuming: 1435 calories.

Days where I work out – Depending on how many calories I burn, I can eat half of the calories I burned as extra calories for that day. Like, If I burned 300 calories form exercise a day, I would eat 150 calories extra that day. That is because when you exercise your body needs more energy to keep going. You can eat all the calories which you burned without gaining weight, I just like to only consume half.

Now, I can’t give you an estimate in days, but I can tell you that, the lower the percentage is the slower/longer your weight loss process is going to take and the higher the percentage the faster it will go. You can adjust the percentage to your liking depending on how much of a deficit you want. Again, please don’t just opt for the fastest way. It really depends on how much you weigh from the beginning. You can always change your deficit, if you feel that you need to eat more calories or less, just remember that eating more will result in a slower process and eating less in a faster process.

Please don’t eat under 1200 calories for women and 1500 calories for men. This is the absolute lowest calorie intake we need to keep our body healthy. The National Institutes of Health recommends eating between 1000-1200 calories for women and 1200-1500 calories for men. If you eat less calories than this recommendation, it can lead to dizziness and unpleasant side effects. What is worst, is the fact that eating less calories than needed won’t help you lose weight, but you’ll actually gain weight.

I recommend that once a month you look at your current weight and calculate your calories, just to see if your on track or you need to adjust your deficit. Remember to listen to your body, if you feel hungry at the end of the day, maybe eat a few more calories and if you want, you can add in some more exercise to burn more calories.

4th – Keep going!

Remember that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise, so you have to get in some exercise and eat healthy.

I want to mention that I’m not a doctor or an expert in this field whatsoever! This is just what has been working for me and it might or might not work for you. I would strongly advice you to contact your doctor or a fitness/health expert especially if your weight loss is of greater scale!

This only functions as a guide. I recommend reading more on the subject by searching on Google (or another search engine).

I do hope it helps somebody out there.