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How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?

By Patrick Hutchison ; Updated July 18, 2017

Counting calories is a time honored way of losing weight. The formula is simple: figure out how many calories you need, eat less and lose weight. However, the actual process is a little more complicated. Get the equation right and you'll lose weight in no time.

Weight Loss

The number of calories you eat each day should reflect your weight loss goal. According to, cutting 500 calories per day from your daily caloric needs will result in weight loss of 1 lb. per week. For 2 lb. per week, cut 1,000 calories from your daily caloric needs.

Caloric Needs

Your daily caloric needs are based on your basal metabolic rate (BMR) and your activity level. Your basal metabolic rate is the number of calories you burn when inactive. Determine this rate by using a BMR calculator (see Resources). Every activity you complete requires energy and burns calories. Figure your daily caloric expenditure by combining your basal metabolic rate and your calories burned when performing simple activities like washing the dishes, as well as calories burned with added exercise. Then consume less calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight.


The National Institute of Health recommends a weight loss goal of no more than 2 lb. per week. Reducing your diet beyond these boundaries is dangerous and inhibits your body's ability to function properly.

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