How Many Calories Should I Take per Day to Lose Weight?

Would you like to lose weight in a healthy way? Then it is necessary to start getting correct information about weight loss.

Most diets fail because the meals we eat do not have the right balance. Just eating fewer calories doesn’t work when you want to lose weight and can even be dangerous.

This causes complaints such as fatigue, hunger, headaches, the yo-yo effect, etc. These complaints cause you to deviate from your diet and thus get far away from your goal.

In this article, I’ll explain how many calories you need per day to lose weight in a healthy way, but more importantly: what a healthy meal looks like.

What’s a calorie?

A calorie is a unit with which we measure energy.

1 calorie is the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1 degree.

The energy content of food and beverages is usually expressed in calories.

Please note that the number of calories on a package is indicated in both kilojoules (kj) and kcal. If you want to calculate how many calories you eat, always look at the number of kcal.

You use the calories you eat and drink for essential body functions such as breathing, blood circulation and brain activity, but also for daily activities such as walking, talking, eating, working, sports and so on.

All the excess calories you eat are stored in your body as fat. If you consistently eat more calories than you burn, your weight will increase over time.

How many calories a day?

There is a handy formula that calculates the number of calories you need in a day.

You do this by two steps.

Step 1

First, you calculate your basal metabolism rate(BMR) which shows the number of calories you need if you stayed motionless all day. This comes down to the number of calories you burn at rest. In other words, here we calculate the number of calories burned per day that you burn with the basic functions of your body.

This formula goes as follows.

For men: 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kilograms) + (4.799 x height in centimetres) – (5,677 x age in years) = energy consumption at rest

For women: 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kilograms) + (3.098 x length in centimetres) – (4,330 x age in years) = energy consumption at rest

Example BMR of a woman of 33, with a length of 168 and a weight of 60 kg

447.593 + (9.247 x 60) + (3.098 x 168) – (4.330 x 33) = 1379 kcal per day.

Step 2

In step 1 you have only calculated your resting calories, but of course, you do a lot more in one day. Most people walk, walk, cycle or exercise intensively throughout the day.

Of course, you have different degrees in the number of exercises people have every day. This is called the PAL value (Physical Activity Level).

The table below gives an overview of PAL values, see which one suits you.

Lifestyle PAL value
Slightly active: Sitting work (exercising 1-3 times a week) 1.4 – 1.5
Active on average: Sitting work (sport 3-5 times a week) 1.6 – 1.7
Active: Standing work (exercising 4-7 times a week) 1.8 – 1.9
Very active: Heavy work (exercise several times a day) 2.0 – 2.4

Now multiply your BMR by your PAL value.

The woman in the example is on average active.

1379(BMR) x 1.6 (PAL) = 2206 kcal.

So the woman can eat 2206 calories a day if she wants to stay at the same weight.

How many calories do you need to lose weight?

Now that you’ve calculated how many calories you burn in a day, we calculate that if you want to lose weight, you should eat about 15% to 20% less calories in a day.

When we look at the example of the woman who needs 2206 kcal a day to stay on the same weight, we see that if she wants to lose weight, she can reduce the number of calories a day to 1746 kcal.

Note: This is only a standard formula. Everyone is unique and each body is different. This formula is only a guideline. When you start dieting or reducing calories, it is very important that you listen to your body.

The quality of your diet is more important than the number of calories

When you want to lose weight, it’s not just about the amount of calories you eat, but also what and how much you eat.

Finding the right balance in the nutrients you ingest is very important. In this way, you feel full for longer and your health is not endangered.

Carbohydrates, fats & proteins are essential nutrients and your body can’t live without them. In other words, you should never remove any of these nutrients from your diet just because you think it helps you lose weight.

Carbohydrates give your body energy and are especially important for your central nervous system and brain. They are also important for your immune system and carbohydrates protect you against diseases.

But an excess of carbohydrates or carbohydrates from the wrong sources cause a lot of problems that many people have to deal with, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes.

So the most important thing is that you don’t just focus on the number of calories you eat, but also on the amount of carbohydrates, from which sources you get the carbohydrates and how you supplement this with healthy proteins and fats. If you take this into account you will have a healthy calorie intake.

The balance I use in my programs is as follows:

  • 1500-1600 calories
  • 60-80 grams of carbohydrates
  • 90-120 grams of protein
  • 90-120 grams of fats

Tips to reduce calories

The best thing you can do to lose weight healthily is to focus on the quality of the food you eat.

Not only will you lose weight faster, but you will also have a lot more energy, prevent a feeling of hunger and improve your general health.

That sounds good, right?

1. Avoid refined sugars

Refined sugars can be found in about 75% of the pre-packed foods in the supermarket.

These are “empty” calories because, apart from obesity and other health problems, it will not give you anything.

Avoid refined sugars and you save a lot of unnecessary calories. Refined sugars can be found in, among other things:

  • Candy
  • Cake
  • Chips
  • Chocolate
  • Soft drink
  • Fruit juices
  • Sauces
  • Ready-to-eat meals
  • Almost all packed products and snacks from the supermarket

2. Choose the right carbohydrates

Reducing carbohydrates is an effective way to lose weight. This has more effect than just eating less calories.

Avoid unhealthy carbohydrates such as the refined sugars we just saw, but also bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and especially the white variety.

White bread, white rice, pasta and potatoes are unhealthy carbohydrates, because of the adverse effect on your blood sugar level.

Healthy carbohydrates can be found in: vegetables, fruit, oats, legumes, buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice or brown rice.

3. Eat enough protein for a long satiated feeling

Protein is the nutrient that keeps you full for a long time.  Research has shown that protein increases your metabolism and reduces your appetite.  (source)

A diet consisting of 30% protein reduces the number of calories by about 441 kcal per day. (source)

Healthy proteins can be found in: meat (especially game and poultry), wild caught and oily fish, eggs, Greek yogurt, whole curd cheese, goat dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes.

4. Eat fat to lose fat

It sounds contradictory, but eating healthy fat can help to prevent weight gain and lose weight.

A study showed that following a Mediterranean diet helps to prevent weight gain. Such a Mediterranean diet is rich in healthy fats derived from olive oil and nuts, and gives you a lower risk of weight gain compared to a low-fat diet (source).

It’s the unhealthy trans fats that add the kilos, but healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, linseed oil, avocado, fatty fish, nuts, seeds and olives have a beneficial effect on your fat burning.

Keep in mind that healthy fat also contains a lot of calories. The right balance between carbohydrates, fats and proteins is therefore the most important part of a healthy diet.

Fan of everything health and fitness related. My mission is to share my knowledge and experience with as many people as possible and help them to find their ideal path to perfect health.