You’ve been trying for weeks to get rid of those last few pounds, but you just can’t seem to shed them. You’ve already cut way back on calories – which might be the reason why the scale isn’t going down. If you want lasting, healthy weight loss, it’s not just about eating and exercising enough, but also about eating right.
If your main goal is to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. Research has found that you have to cut a total of around 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat (0.45 kg). If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, we recommend that you cut between 300 and 500 calories a day, but not more. This way, you will lose about one pound per week.(1)
The advantage of a slow and healthy approach to losing weight is that it makes it easier to maintain your weight loss and helps you avoid the dreaded yo-yo effect.
Did you know?
You have to cut 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat (0.45 kg).
How many calories do you need per day?
Creating a caloric deficit is vital for healthy weight loss, but how many calories should you consume every day? It’s time to do a little bit of math and figure it out, as this number varies from person to person.
Your personal calorie requirements depend on your basal metabolic rate and your physical activity level. The basal metabolic rate is the number of calories your body burns at rest during a 24-hour period. You can calculate your personal calorie requirement with the following equations:
Daily calorie requirement: BMR x PAL (1.2 – 2.4)
Basal metabolic rate (BMR):
- Women: 655.1 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)
- Men: 66.47 + (6.24 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.755 x age in years)
The PAL value (PAL stands for “physical activity level”) describes the physical activities a person does within a 24-hour period:
- 1.2: primarily in a sitting and lying position, no recreational activities (e.g., elderly or bedridden people, wheelchair users)
- 1.3 – 1.5: mainly in a sitting position with a little recreational activity (e.g., white-collar workers)
- 1.6 – 1.7: in a sitting position at work with some standing and walking activities (e.g., assembly-line workers, truck drivers)
- 1.8 – 1.9: mostly in a standing and walking position (e.g., retail workers, salespeople, tradespeople, waitstaff)
- 2 – 2.4: hard and strenuous physical activity at work (e.g., professional athletes, construction workers, miners, farmers)
Or use our daily calorie intake calculator:
Now that you know how many calories you should consume per day, now comes the hard part – figuring out what to do to reduce that number and create a caloric deficit to start losing weight. Eating habits can be difficult to manage, but we have some tips to help keep you on track and shed those pounds.
3 Tips for Healthy Weight Loss
1. Eat regular meals
Your body needs sufficient energy to maintain all your body functions, immune system, and metabolism. Your body gets this energy from the calories in the food you eat (Note: calories aren’t the only thing that matters, though).
If you restrict your calorie intake too much for an extended period of time, your body will start to get the energy it needs from other places. This will cause you to feel weak. Daily tasks can prove to be quite strenuous because your body is using all the calories it can get to maintain its basic functions. In this situation, you won’t have any energy left for a HIIT workout at home or a long distance run.
Along with a healthier diet, you should include exercise in your roadmap to losing weight. You can boost your calorie burn with regular and varied training, but in order to exercise, you need to have the energy for it.
2. Don’t over-restrict your calories
If you restrict calories too much for a long period of time, you will be plagued by constant hunger and feel weak, cold, and moody. This is usually when people forget about all their good intentions and start to eat more again. And even if you begin to eat within your normal range again, you will still gain weight because your body is now storing the additional calories as fat in fear of another low-calorie period.
In addition, researchers have found that a severe reduction in calories can increase the production of cortisol in the blood. This stress hormone is associated with high abdominal fat deposits and weight gain.(2)(3)
3. Try intuitive eating instead of counting calories
Have you ever heard of intuitive eating? Intuitive eating means you can eat anything you want, with no rules and no forbidden foods. You learn how to be aware of the signs your body sends you when you are hungry or full, so you can stop counting calories and dieting. This way, you can reach a healthy weight and feel satisfied. Sounds good, right? Learn about the 10 principles of intuitive eating. It might be just what you need to make peace with food.
If you want to experience healthy weight loss:
- Reduce your calorie intake by about 300 – 500 calories per day, but not much more.
- Don’t skip meals! You need energy to get you through your day or your next workout, and this energy comes from the food you eat.
- A caloric deficit can help you lose weight but don’t overdo it or do it for an extended period of time, as it can cause you to be constantly hungry and may even make you gain weight in the long run.
- Listen to your body and try intuitive eating.
Slow weight loss is healthier and will help you reach a weight that is easier to maintain and feels good. Listen to your body and fill up on fresh, unprocessed foods. We also recommend eating a good balance of the three major macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat). There’s room for everything in a healthy and balanced diet.