Don’t go on crash diets, but rather learn how many calories you should eat to lose weight. If a person loses more than one to two pounds a week consistently, they are probably losing more than fat. They’re probably losing muscle, probably losing some fluid. And that can be dangerous.
You don’t just lose muscle from your legs and arms. You lose some from your heart. Many fad diets provide protein supplements under the supposition that eating more protein will prevent muscle loss, but it doesn’t work that way.
Exercise, generally recommended as part of a weight loss plan anyway, will help preserve muscle tissue. You should make smaller changes in your diets and activity levels so that you lose no more than two pounds a week. It’s relatively easy to determine how many calories you should eat to lose weight if you know the right formulas.
A pound of fat is equal to about 3,500 calories. Figure out how many calories you eat to maintain your weight. And then, if you want to lose a pound a week, you would need a deficit of 500 calories a day.
If you wanted to lose two pounds a week, you would need a deficit of 1,000 calories a day. So if you are eating 2,000 calories a day, cutting your intake to 1,500 calories should result in a weight loss of a pound a week.
Experts do not recommend dieters cut down below 1,200 calories a day, because it is virtually impossible to get sufficient protein, vitamins and minerals on less than that.
Another way of calculating is to determine how many calories you need to maintain your desirable weight and cut down to that level, allowing the excess baggage to drop away. On the average, women need 12 calories a pound of bodyweight for very light activity, 13 for light, 14 for moderate, 15 for strenuous and 16 for very strenuous.
Men need 14 calories a pound for very light activity, 15 for light, 16 for moderate, 17 for strenuous and 18 for very strenuous.
Very light activity involves mostly sitting with up to two hours of standing or walking each day. Very strenuous activities include tennis, swimming, running, basketball and football.
Thus, a woman whose activity level is very light, who weighs 150 pounds – but whose ideal weight is 120 pounds – would need 1,440 calories at her ideal weight. That is 360 calories less than the 1,800 she would need to maintain her current weight – and would result in a loss of about a pound every 10 days.
But by increasing her activity level to moderate, she would burn 2,100 calories a day at her present weight and 1,680 at her ideal weight.
By comparison, a 200-pound man with a very strenuous activity level would need 3,600 calories to maintain his weight, while a 160-pound man who is a couch potato would require just 2,240 calories.
People who want to lose weight should return to the “basic four” food groups and cut their fat intake in particular, since fat has more than twice as many calories as carbohydrates or protein. And cutting down on extras can make a big difference. Just 150 calories a day – approximately the amount in either a 12-ounce can of cola or a 1-ounce bag of potato chips – adds up to 54,750 calories, or nearly 16 pounds of weight, in a year’s time.
A new study also indicates that people can lose weight by cutting down on fat and eliminating refined sugar, but not making a great effort to reduce their caloric intake.
So there you have it. Now that you know how many calories you should eat to lose weight, there are no more excuses for you. Start exercising and eating healthy and you will be amazed with the results.