This is one of the most searched queries on the planet. And fortunately, the answer to the daily calorie and weight-loss question is relatively simple.
However, to arrive at the answer there are other factors to consider when evaluating calories and daily weight loss.
There are biological factors that need to be taken into consideration.[i] These include:
- Weight, and
Other factors include the number of calories a person is already burning each day.
For instance, some people have sedentary jobs, others have high calorie-burning jobs.
Similarly, some people have active exercise programs, others not so much.
Understanding calories will help you understand daily weight loss and weight loss over time.
A calorie is a unit that measures energy humans get from the food and drink they consume, and the energy they use in physical activity.[ii]
Different foods and drinks have varying calorie amounts, from very high to very low (this information is usually available on the packaging).
Kilojoules (kj) are the metric measurement of calories and are just over four times that of kcals (200 kcals equal 836.8kj). [BB3] [AO4]
Try this handy conversion tool for kilojoules to calories.
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Calorie calculator for weight loss
Taking all this into consideration, there is a formula (below) that will help you calculate the number of calories you need to consume and burn each day to lose weight.
The Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (a nonprofit American academic medical center focused on integrated health care, education, and research) has a calorie calculator[iii] based on the Harris Benedict Equation and the Institute of Medicine Dietary Reference intakes. [BB5] [AO6]
It will calculate the number of daily calories your body needs to maintain your current weight, based on age, height, weight and gender.
Click the Mayo Clinic link and answer its questions to estimate how many calories you should consume to lose weight.
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Calorie amounts per day for weight loss
One health resource suggests aiming for a 500-calorie deficit per day for weight loss over time. [iv]
This will help you lose about 0.45 kg of body weight per week.
That is almost 2kgs a month and 12kgs over six months.
For an average woman, some guides suggest that number is around 2,000kcal (8,400kJ) a day.
An average man needs around 2,500kcal (10,500kJ) a day to maintain a healthy body weight. [v]
Slow, steady weight loss using a consistent plan is generally regarded as a smart option for long-term weight loss. [vi]
Rapid weight loss has been viewed as a potentially dangerous to your health.
Furthermore, dieting can be harmful because the body responds to these periods of semi-starvation by lowering its metabolic rate. [vii]
Smart calorie strategies for weight loss
You have probably figured out that this daily calorie-weight loss conundrum is a balancing act.
Obviously, you need energy as a human.
However, when we eat and drink more calories than we use up, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this continues, over time we may put on weight. [viii]
Knowing how many calories are in the food and drink you consume can help ensure that for the day you are in a ‘calorie deficit’. [ix]
Over time, this calorie reduction can lead to weight loss.
Many high-sugar soft drinks and high-saturated fat foods are often high in calories and low in health benefits. [x]
Consuming these types of products regularly may not help your calorie deficit on a daily basis.
‘Sometimes we crave sweets when our energy level is taking a dive,’ writes Susan Bowerman, Sr. Director, Worldwide Nutrition Education and Training at Herbalife.[xi]
‘Sometimes we turn to sweets as a treat or a reward.
‘Unfortunately, many sweets can have a very high calorie cost, which is counterproductive if you’re trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.’
What does help, though, is an online calorie counter.
Products such as MyFitnessPal can be useful in keeping you on track.
However, protein’s importance in weight loss cannot be overstated.
Studies have shown[xii] protein’s value in appetite control while making you feel fuller longer.
Also, the ‘thermic effect of food” (TEF) is the energy used to digest food into smaller more absorbable parts. Protein, you’ll be pleased to know, has a higher TEF compared to carbs and fats. [xiii]
Studies also show how that protein increases your metabolic rate.[xiv]
Herbalife’s delicious meal-replacement protein shakes are perfect for making every calorie count and keeping you full. That’s why they’re chosen by millions of people worldwide on their weight loss journeys.