how many calories do i need for weight loss

How Many Calories Do I Need For Weight Loss

May 17, 20244 min read

When it comes to losing weight, one of the most common questions people ask is, "How many calories do I need to consume to lose weight?" Understanding your calorie needs is crucial for achieving your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore how to determine your daily calorie requirements, the role of macronutrients, and practical tips for creating a calorie deficit for weight loss.

This does require some math (which we do for our clients). This is a good starting point, but there are still many moving parts to successfully lose body fat/weight.

Understanding Calories and Energy Balance

A calorie is a unit of energy that measures the amount of energy food provides to your body. To maintain your current weight, you need to consume the same number of calories that your body uses for energy. This is known as your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE), which includes:

  1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): The number of calories your body needs to perform basic life-sustaining functions, such as breathing, circulation, and cell production.

  2. Physical Activity Level (PAL): The calories burned through all physical activities, including exercise and non-exercise activities like walking and fidgeting.

  3. Thermic Effect of Food (TEF): The energy required to digest, absorb, and metabolize food, which typically accounts for about 10% of your total calorie intake.

Calculating Your Calorie Needs

To determine your calorie needs for weight loss, you first need to calculate your BMR and then adjust it based on your activity level.

Step 1: Calculate Your BMR

There are several equations to estimate BMR, but the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation is one of the most commonly used and accurate:

  • For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (years) + 5

  • For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) - 5 x age (years) - 161

Step 2: Determine Your TDEE

Once you have your BMR, multiply it by an activity factor to get your TDEE:

  • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2

  • Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375

  • Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55

  • Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725

  • Super active (very hard exercise, physical job, or training twice a day): BMR x 1.9

Step 3: Create a Calorie Deficit

To lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than your TDEE, creating a calorie deficit. A safe and effective rate of weight loss is 0.5 to 1 kg (1 to 2 pounds) per week, which requires a calorie deficit of about 500 to 1,000 calories per day.

Macronutrient Balance

While creating a calorie deficit is key, the quality of your diet also matters. Ensuring you get the right balance of macronutrients—protein, carbohydrates, and fats—can help you maintain muscle mass, keep you full, and provide the energy you need for daily activities and exercise.

  • Protein: Aim for 1.2 to 2.2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. Protein is essential for preserving healthy muscle during weight loss and keeping you feeling fuller for longer.

  • Carbohydrates: Carbohydrate needs vary based on activity level, but a moderate intake of complex carbs (whole grains, fruits, vegetables) can provide the necessary energy for workouts and daily activities.

  • Fats: Healthy fats should make up about 20-35% of your total daily calories. Focus on sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Practical Tips for Calorie Management

  1. Track Your Intake: Use a food diary or app to monitor your daily calorie intake and ensure you’re staying within your target range. But you do need to make sure you are being honest with your tracking. Just guessing here will only lead to disappointment.

  2. Portion Control: Be mindful of portion sizes, especially with high-calorie foods. Using smaller plates and measuring servings can help.

  3. Eat Nutrient-Dense Foods: Focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients but lower in calories, such as vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains.

  4. Stay Hydrated: Sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. A simple guide for this, check the colour of your pee, the clearer the better.

  5. Regular Physical Activity: Incorporate both cardiovascular exercise and strength training to boost your calorie burn and maintain muscle mass.


Determining how many calories you need for weight loss involves understanding your BMR, TDEE, and creating a sustainable calorie deficit. Balancing your macronutrients and making mindful food choices will support your weight loss journey and overall health.

Remember, weight loss is not just about cutting calories but also about nourishing your body with the right nutrients and staying active.

By following these guidelines and adjusting your calorie intake based on your progress, you can achieve your weight loss goals in a healthy and sustainable way.

If this all looks confusing, book your free trial by clicking on the Free Trial button at the top of the page.

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