Losing weight should always mean losing fat….. and not muscles. Therefore the first thing that you should be careful about when counting calories is not to drag it to the extreme limits and take into consideration your height, weight and BMR when calculating how many calories to lose weight. Needless to say, the results would be different for different people.
The basic formula
How many calories to lose weight? Put this formula into use –
Calories you burn – Calorie deficit you create
Calories you burn
On an average, an active woman burns around 2000-2400 calories per day and an active man, 2400-3000. Very active people like athletes and weight trainers burn more. On the same note, men/women leading sedentary lives burn less. How to find that out? Your current weight can be a great indicator of the rate at which your body burns calories. Calculate your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) by multiplying your current weight 10 times. Therefore, if your weight now is 160 pounds, your BMR is 160 x 10 = 1600.
Next, multiply this result by 20% if you lead a sedentary life; by 37.5% if you are marginally active; by 40% if you are moderately active; and by 50% if you are very active. The result would precisely be the amount of calories that your body burns every day. A moderately active 160 pound person would therefore burn 1600 x 40% =640 calories.
Next, you should again multiply your BMR figure by 10% – this should be done to compensate for the calories your body burns in the course of digestion. 1600 x 10% will be equivalent to 160 calories.
Add the 3 results together. The number you arrive at will be the estimated number of calories that you burn on a daily basis. For the 160 pound moderately active person that would be 1600+640+160=2400 calories.
‘Calorie deficit’ – for most people who are working towards weight loss, this is a commonly used term. For beginner weight loss achievers, calorie deficit is the condition in which your body burns more calories than it receives. To explain it in simpler terms, if you are able to cut short the calorific intake in your diet by 500 calories per day (i.e. create a deficit of 500 calories/day) your body would start looking for the same from other sources, namely the fat deposits. In the long run, this would mean weight loss. You would need exactly a week to lose 1 pound (500 x 7 = 3500 calories) without additional exercise. If you incorporate moderate levels of exercise into your daily routine, a bigger deficit would be created and you will burn more, which would translate into bigger amounts of weight loss.
Experts suggest that rather than choosing a random number of calorie deficit, cutting down on 15-35% of calories than what you burn is the best thing to do. For minimal weight loss it can be 15% and for aggressive weight loss, the number can be 30-35%.
For a (moderately active) 160 pound person who wants moderate weight loss, a 20% calorie deficit from the daily calorie burn would be fine enough. 20% of 2400 (as we have calculated before) would be 480. So a deficit of 480 calories should be created through either diet restriction or diet/exercise combo.
Therefore how many calories he should eat to lose weight? Apply the formula: ‘Calorie burnt – Calorie deficit’ to this calculation. For our set example (160 pound person) that would be 2400 – 480 = 1920 calories.
In fact, once you come to know your BMR, you can find out how many calories you should eat to reach your desirable weight target very easily. For quicker calculations, you can use the ‘Calorie Calculator’ to compute.
Now the final question – how big should be your calorie deficit? The thumb rule to determine this is – 15-20% calorie deficit percentage is alright for people on the leaner side and the heavier you are the count goes up. 35% for example would be good for obese people.
Also, to keep your body away from fatigue, you should never eat fewer calories than your body’s BMR. This is the amount of calories that your body will burn anyway, even when it is at rest.