How to Estimate How Many Calories You Can Have and Still Lose Weight
To figure out how many calories you should have, first start with where you are. In other words, figure out how many calories it takes to maintain your present size and then reduce from there. You can go about this in many ways. Most people simply choose an arbitrary number like 1200 calories and that's what they eat, but in nearly every case that's not nearly enough calories to ensure adequate nutrition, not to mention deprivation that sets up.
While losing weight and to this day, I eat over 2000 calories a day on average and I've maintained a good weight for my height for over 17 years. Remember, your body requires calories to maintain itself.
Basic Calorie Requirements Calculation Based on Activity Level:
Sedentary : 13 X Weight = Avg. cal/day Sedentary is not exercising at all
Moderately Active: 16 X Weight = Avg. cal/day Moderately Active is exercising approximately 3-4 times per week
Very Active: 19 X Weight = Avg. cal/day Very Active is 5-7 strenuous exercise sessions per week. If you weigh over 200 pound now, and you'd like to weigh closer to 150, here is a calculation you could use to get started: Assuming you are going to be adding enough exercise to quality as Moderately Active, we'll use 16 as our modifier:
150 pounds X 16 calories per pound = 2400 calories Less 500 (Using common 500 calories per day reduction) gives us a total of 1900 average calories per day
If you started to incorporate a plan that allowed an average of 1900 calories every day, you'd start to lose weight. The mistake most people make is to reduce calories too much, which ultimately sacrifices muscle plus sets you up for feeling deprived. It's far better in long run to go more slowly, keeping as much muscle as possible while burning calories via exercise. Remember too, even if you don't eat quite that many calories on many days, you might eat more on weekends for instance, so it ends up being closer to your goal of 1900 average per day. Take total calories for week divided by seven.
Remember, this average calorie number gives you plenty of wiggle room during week. You can have some treats along with everyone else, or add more on weekends. Instead of constantly saying, "I can't, I'm on a diet," now you can say, "Thank you, that looks delicious," and enjoy some. It doesn't ruin your diet plan because you've got a large enough calorie allowance that if you are more careful some days than others, it will work out to average number of calories you want. I tend to eat far less calories during week than on weekends and my totals generally average out to 2000 to 2200 calories per day.
The 500 calorie reduction is a well accepted amount. You can reduce your calories further, but I wouldn't recommend it. It doesn't benefit anyone to try for faster weight loss, in fact, if you reduce your calories too much you end up wasting muscle in process, which is exactly what you do not want to do. If you want faster results, it's better to add more activity, thereby burning more calories at rest.
You may be thinking I'm nuts, recommending 1900 calories per day, but I can say for a fact that if you eat too little (1000 - 1200 calories is too few, IMO) then you set yourself up for all of following:
Deprivation. You're going to feel deprived, mentally and physically. 1000 calories isn't enough for your basic metabolic needs, much less to fuel yourself for your activity needs. Add more food! Just have a bit more than you're already having, so for instance, if you are allowed 1/2 cup of vegetables is a whole cup going to ruin all your progress? I doubt it. Eat a whole cup, or go ahead and have two oranges. Fruits and vegetables are very low calorie but provide high nutrition.