How Many Calories Should You Eat per Day to Lose Weight?

Here is a quick and easy scientific calculator that calculates calories. It also includes five proven tips to help you reduce your calories.

Use the calculator to calculate how many calories you need each day to maintain or lose weight.

This calculator uses the Mifflin–St Jeor formula, which has been proven to be accurate in estimating calories (1Trusted source, 2Trusted source, 3Trusted source).

Calorie calculator

Calorie Counter

Units:U.S. (Imperial)MetricGender:SelectFemaleMaleAge:YearsHeight:FeetInchesWeight:PoundsActivity:SelectSedentary lifestyleSlightly activeModerately activeActive lifestyleVery active lifestyleCALCULATEThis calculator is for informational purposes only, you should consult a healthcare provider before making any health decisions. The calculator is based on the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation, a formula that has been shown to be an accurate way of estimating calorie needs in numerous studies.

Calculator, measuring tape and set of healthy food on wooden table

How many calories per day should you consume?

This question is dependent on many factors such as your age, height, current body weight, activity level, metabolic health, and other factors.

When trying to lose weight, a general rule of thumb is to reduce your calorie intake to 500 fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. This will allow you to lose approximately 1 pound (0.45kg) per week.

Below are average calorie ranges that consider these factors (4Trusted Source).

Women

The average, moderately active woman between the ages of 26-50 needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight and 1,500 calories per day to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) of weight per week.

Active women who walk more than three miles per day need to consume at least 2,200 calories daily to maintain their weight. They also need to consume at least 1,700 calories per week to lose 1 pound (0.45kg).

In their 20s, young women have higher calorie requirements. To maintain their weight, they need approximately 2,200 calories daily.

Women over 50 require fewer calories. For a moderately active woman, over 50 years old, she needs approximately 1,800 calories per daily to maintain her weight. She also needs 1,300 calories per days to lose one pound (0.45kg) per week.

These figures do not apply to pregnant women or mothers who are breastfeeding. They have significantly higher calorie requirements.

Men

An average moderately active male between 26 and 45 years old needs 2,600 calories per days to maintain his weight, and 2,100 calories daily to lose 1 (0.45kg) pound each week.

Active men who exercise more than 3 miles per hour may need 2,800-3000 calories per day to maintain their weight, and 2,300-2500 calories per day if they want to lose 1 pound (0.45kg) per week.

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The energy requirements of young men between the ages of 19 and 25 are higher. To maintain their weight, they need an average of 2,800 calories perday and as much as 3,000 if they are active. Young men who are moderately active should consume between 2,300 and 2,500 calories per day to lose 1 pound (0.45kg) each week.

As men age, their energy needs decline. Average men who are moderately active need 2,400 calories daily between the ages 46 and 65. After 66 years, the average male’s daily calorie intake drops to around 2,200 calories.

Children

Children’s calorie requirements can vary depending on their age, size and level of activity.

The average toddler needs 1,200-1,400 calories daily, while the average teenager is able to consume 2,000-2,800 calories each day. Active teenage boys require even more.

Children who grow and develop normally and are active in physical activity often don’t have to count calories. When they’re provided with a range of healthy options to eat, most moderately active kids naturally eat the amount of food their body requires.HEALTHLINE QUIZTake our free 3-question diet quiz

Our free assessment ranks the best diets for you based on your answers to 3 quick questions.FIND YOUR DIETS

What is a calorie?

Calories are units that measure energy. Calories are used to measure energy in foods and beverages. To lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories than your body burns each day.

How can you reduce your calorie intake

Calories simply represent energy. You need to eat more calories than you expend in order to gain weight. You can lose weight if your calories are greater than your intake.

Cutting calories and not considering what foods you eat are usually not sustainable ways to lose weight. For example, choosing more nutrient-dense foods will benefit your health more than opting for nutrient-poor ones.

Although it may work for some, many people end up hungry and revert back to their old ways.

It’s a good idea to make some permanent changes that will help you maintain a calorie deficit over the long-term, without feeling hungry.

These lifestyle and eating changes, which are based on evidence, have been proven to reduce weight.

1. Increase your intake of protein

When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients.

It is easy to lose weight by adding protein to your diet.

Research shows that protein can increase your metabolism rate and curb your appetite (6TrustedSource, 6TrustedSource, 7TrustedSource, 8TrustedSource).

High protein diets can help you to burn 80-100 calories each day, as protein needs energy to be metabolized.

Protein can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time and reduce your daily calories. One older study showed that people who ate 30% of calories from protein ate 441 fewer calories per day (12Trusted Source).

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In other words, protein can help you increase your calories and decrease your calories. Protein can also help fight cravings.

In one 2011 study, consuming 25% of daily calories from protein reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60%, as well as the desire to snack late at night by 50% (13Trusted Source).

If you want to lose weight sustainably and with minimal effort, consider increasing your protein intake.

It can help you lose weight and prevent or reduce weight gain (14TrustedSource, 15TrustedSource, 16TrustedSource).

SUMMARY

You can increase your protein intake to boost your metabolism and fight cravings. It can also reduce your appetite. This will help you lose weight and maintain it.

2. Avoid sugary soft drinks, fruit juices and other sweetened beverages

Eliminating liquid sugar calories is another easy way to make a change in your diet.

This includes sodas, fruit juices, chocolate milk, and other beverages with added sugar.

Your brain does not register liquid calories the same way as it registers solid calories.

Drinking sugary soda does not automatically make your brain eat less of other foods.

Research has shown that sugary drinks have a strong link to obesity. One study of children showed a 60% increase in risk for every daily intake of sugary beverages (19Trusted Source,20Trusted Source).

Sugar can cause more harm than weight gain. Sugar can cause metabolic problems and increase your risk of developing many diseases (21TrustedSource).

Eating fruit, which also contains fiber and other important nutrients, isn’t associated with the same negative effects as drinking fruit juice or other sweetened beverages. However, eating large amounts of added sugar and sugary drinks can harm your health in a variety of ways.

These beverages are not necessary for your health. The long-term benefits of avoiding them could be significant.

SUMMARY

Avoid sugary soft drinks and juices. Liquid sugar is the most fattening part of Western diets.

3. Get more water

One very simple trick to increase weight loss is to drink more water.

Research has shown that drinking water may increase your ability to burn calories for as long as 90 minutes (22TrustedSource, 23TrustedSource).

You may burn approximately 96 calories per day by drinking eight 8-ounce glasses (2 Liters) of water each day.

However, recent studies suggest drinking water may not increase the number of calories you burn (24Trusted Source).

Even more important is the timing of your water intake. Drinking water right before meals can help you feel fuller and eat less calories (25Trusted source).

In one 12-week study, drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water half an hour before meals made people lose 44% more weight (26Trusted Source).

Drinking more water before meals can help you lose weight if it is combined with a healthy diet.

Caffeinated drinks like green tea and coffee may increase metabolism in the short-term. This is linked to weight loss and maintaining it (27TrustedSource, 28TrustedSource, 29TrustedSource, 30TrustedSource).

SUMMARY

Studies have shown that water intake can increase metabolism. You can eat less calories by drinking water half an hour before meals.

4. Lift weights and exercise

Your body will compensate for consuming less calories by storing energy and thereby burn less calories.

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This is why long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce your metabolism.

It can also lead to muscle loss. Your metabolism is influenced by muscle, which can lead to a decrease in metabolic activity.

This effect can only be prevented by exercising your muscles and lifting weights.

This has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and stop your metabolism from slowing during long-term calorie restriction (31Trusted Source).

It is important to strengthen and maintain your muscles while trying to lose weight.

If you can’t get to a gym, consider doing bodyweight exercises, such as pushups, squats, and situps, at home.

Cardio, such as walking, swimming or jogging can be beneficial — not only for weight loss, but also for optimal health and well-being.

Exercise has many other benefits than weight loss. These include increased energy and longevity, lower risk of developing diseases, and a better quality of life.

SUMMARY

Lifting weights is important because it reduces muscle loss, and keeps your metabolism from slowing down.

5. Reduce refined carb intake

Cutting carbs can help you lose weight because it decreases your appetite and helps you eat less calories (37TrustedSource, 38TrustedSource).

Research has shown that a low-carb diet can help you lose up to two to three times as much weight when consumed until you feel satisfied (38Trusted Source,39Trusted Source).

Low carb diets can also have other health benefits, especially for those with type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome (40TrustedSource, 41TrustedSource).

Yet, you don’t have to go low carb. Simply ensure that you eat quality, fiber-rich carb sources, focusing on whole, single-ingredient foods.

Whole foods are more important than the composition of your diet.

SUMMARY

Carbohydrate reduction may help you lose weight by decreasing your appetite and consuming fewer calories.

Online calorie counters that work!

Many websites and apps can help you track your calorie intake.

Try using a calorie counter for at least a few days to see how many calories, carbs, protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals you’re actually eating.

It can be quite eye-opening to see numbers like these.

The bottom line

How many calories you need per day depends on whether you want to maintain, lose, or gain weight, as well as various other factors, such as your gender, age, height, current weight, activity level, and metabolic health.

You don’t have to eat less calories. You can lose weight by making simple lifestyle and dietary changes such as exercising, proper hydration, and increasing your intake of protein.

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