What should my Calorie intake be every day?
The answer to the ideal daily calorie intake depends on what your weight goals happen to be. Numerous online tools help you accurately figure out the number of calories you should aim for each day.
These tools have particular goals in mind, so be sure to use the right one for your weight objectives. For example, some online calorie calculating tools show you how many calories you need on a daily basis to maintain your current weight. Meanwhile, others will tell you what your calorie count should be to help you gain extra weight.
However, if you want to shed some excess pounds, you will need to find a dedicated weight-loss tool. And the main question you will want to be answered is about the daily calorie count required to lose weight.
Whatever your goal for your waistline, it is relatively straightforward to figure out the exact calorie intake for weight loss, weight maintenance, or gaining weight.
By following the steps we outline here, you will be able to calculate the precise number of calories to eat daily to reach your weight goal.
Understanding weight-loss calculators
Use this type of calorie calculator if your main goal is to lose some excess weight. It’s a straightforward process that’s fun and exciting, even if you are more curious than serious about losing weight.
So how do calorie counters like these work? After you enter the requested information, the calculator uses the Mifflin St Jeor equation, a formula to calculate your metabolic rate at rest. The resulting number is what your body needs to maintain all its function when you’re at rest.
Next, the calculator will crunch some more numbers to arrive at your ideal calorie intake to keep you going every day. This calorie intake is based on your personal data such as age, weight, height, and sex.
The last step in this procedure is to either add or subtract calories depending on whether you wish to put weight on or lose a few pounds.
But what if your goal is not to lose or gain weight, but instead stay at your current weight? The calculator can do this by reckoning the number of calories you need to consume to keep your weight the same. Information like this is useful for people who eat healthily too.
If your weight is healthy for your height and you wish to maintain this happy state of affairs, you need to know if you’re eating too many calories or too few. For a number of adults, this can mean consuming as little as 2000 calories each day.
You will usually see this number mentioned on a product’s labeling under Nutrition Facts. But this estimate comes with a caveat. Healthy people can be smaller or larger than average. And have varying levels of overall activity, which will impact the number of calories they need each day.
How to use a weight loss calculator
Do you want to give a calorie calculator a go then? You will need to supply some critical personal information about your current weight, gender, age, and height to get an accurate calorie reading.
Every calculator needs this type of data because these crucial factors influence the body’s metabolism and daily calorie intake to maintain health and function. Generally speaking, men require more calories than women. Body size, too, means that they require more calories than someone of a smaller build. And typically, young adults need more calories than older adults.
Expect to be asked about how active you usually are. If you tend to be more active during the daytime, you will need more calories to keep going. Give honest answers about your daily activity and exercise habits to ensure the most accurate result possible.
If you’re uncertain about your daily activity, start a log to record your daily movements. Your smartphone will almost certainly have some kind of fitness app or step counter to help you get a good idea.
Next, the tool will enquire about your weight goals. Here, too, it is vital to be realistic. Your weight target may not be ideal for your personal circumstances. It could be far from ideal or even unhealthy.
But if your weight has been a lifelong struggle and you never tipped the scales at anything less than 150 lbs., then aiming for, say, 120 pounds may not be feasible for you. It is also essential that your target weight is not less than your recommended body mass index (BMI).
Also, ensure that the goal you set is something you think is attainable. You can always set a new goal once you reach your initial target. Finally, you can select a deadline for reaching your goal.
If you aim to lose weight, a healthy target is a weight loss of half a pound to two pounds per week. To gain weight, a realistic target is gaining around one pound per week.
Attaining your ideal weight
When you finish your calorie calculator profile, you will receive a daily calorie guideline. This number is the calorie intake you require daily to reach your target weight within the time you set.
However, if you’re trying to put weight on, your daily calories will include extra calories to help you along. Conversely, if weight loss is your objective, a built-in calorie deficit is included in your daily calorie intake. Effectively, your daily calories put you into an energy deficit. When you do this, the body is being deprived of some fuel it needs to work.
This shortfall has the effect of tricking your body into burning excess fat to make up for the shortfall in calories. In other words, you create a calorie deficit by either consuming fewer calories than you need or burning calories through physical activity. You can, though, do both, dieting and exercise, to go into a calorie deficit.
The more calories you cut out, the faster you will lose weight. But there are limits to the number of calories your body can afford to lose. Diets that are low calorie (fewer than 800 to 1000 calories daily) can go wrong. Always consult with your healthcare provider before going on any diet.
Sounds complex? Not really, so let’s use an example to illustrate. Say you’re a female with a sedentary lifestyle. This scenario means you don’t get much regular exercise. A weight loss calculator would then likely recommend consuming around 1,200 calories each day to shed weight.
If that sounds a little too daunting to accomplish, don’t worry. You can burn off the excess calories by merely adding regular exercise to your week’s routine. Here are a few ideas to try:
- For a 1,300 calorie daily intake (100 calories over target), go on a short evening walk each day to burn off the 700 extra calories each week.
- For a 1,400 calorie daily diet (200 calories over), add two high-intensity workouts in addition to three half-hour walks each week to compensate for the 1,400 calorie weekly excess.
- For a 1,500 calorie daily diet (300 calories over), you will need to factor in 45 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise each day to get rid of the 2,100 weekly calorie excess.
In each of these examples, you’ve busted your daily calorie budget but burnt up the excess through exercise to reach the correct calorie deficit for losing weight. To lose weight faster, add more exercise to your daily regime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still unsure about weight loss calculators? Take a look at these most commonly occurring questions about weight loss.
Is it possible to eat whatever I fancy and still lose some weight?
This question is a tricky one. So long as eating whatever you feel like keeps you within your calorie range, then yes. In theory, you could eat candy all day and still lose weight. But hopefully, you don’t want to because it is very challenging to keep your calorie target without eating nutritious foods.
Healthy food will fill you up and give you energy. Other foods, especially junk food, don’t give your body the nutrients it needs; you’re more likely to feel hungry and overeat.
If I exercise daily, can I eat more?
If you answered the exercise questions truthfully, your daily calorie count provided by the calculator has taken this factor into account. You should not eat anything extra if you exercise.
But suppose you skipped the exercise questions and have added a workout to your daily routine. In that case, the calories you burn while exercising will boost your calorie deficit. If you don’t compensate by eating through these exercise calories, the larger deficit will help you lose weight quicker.
If you eat the equivalent of the calories burnt by exercise, then you will stay on track to lose weight at the rate predicted by the calculator. However, it is all too easy to eat more calories than you have burnt at the gym. This tactic will cause you to gain weight, not lose it.
How can I count calories?
There are various ways of keeping tabs on your calories. Many smartphone apps and websites, such as LoseIt or MyFitnessPal, help you do this.
These apps and sites let you record your food intake and portion size. They then work out your calorie count as well as your fat, protein, and carb intake.
Activity apps, such as FitBit, etc., help you track your daily food and exercise calories. If you prefer a low tech solution, a simple weight loss journal will suffice. It’s easy to note down your calories and keep track that way.
Do I need to sign up for a diet program?
We are all individuals with different needs and lifestyles, so there is no one ‘best diet’. The diet you can follow is the one that will work best for you.
Some find a DIY approach works best for them. Others, however, are more comfortable with the structure of paid-for weight loss programs. Consider your lifestyle. Can you cook and easily access healthy food? What’s your weekly budget? Answering these questions will inform your decision.
Are all calories equal?
While your daily calorie count is what matters the most in losing weight, all calories are not equal. Calories obtained from healthy food will keep you feeling full for longer. They will also provide the fuel you need for daily life and improve your sense of well-being. So what counts as healthy food? Most nutritionists recommend your plate contain:
- Colourful leafy vegetables like salad greens, peppers, carrots, or radish. It’s good to experiment.
- Chicken, fish, and other lean meats. You should only eat red meat in moderation.
- Wholegrains, which supply fiber, like oatmeal, whole grain bread, or crackers.
- Whole fruits instead of fruit juice or snacks that are fruit-flavored.
- Seeds, nuts, and other healthy fat sources in small servings.
- Water rather than soda, sweetened teas, or sports drinks.
Meanwhile, ’empty calories’ won’t satisfy hunger, increase food cravings, and can frequently increase fatigue. Generally, empty calories are found in processed food with added sugar and fats. These foods contain calories but not the vitamins, minerals, and fiber the body requires.
Colourful leafy vegetables Lean meat High-fiber whole grains Whole fruits Small portions of seeds and nuts Water
Sweets Fast food Processed foods Sugary fizzy drinks
Why am I not losing weight?
Several factors are contributing to losing weight. If you don’t see immediate results, you haven’t failed or are doing something wrong. It only means you need to keep at your weight loss program longer to see results.
Take a look at your exercise and eating habits. Maybe there is something you can adjust. There is also the possibility of a medical reason for your inability to lose weight. It may be worthwhile talking to your physician if you have tried to slim but aren’t having any success.
Your health team may be able to refer you to a qualified dietician to get a personalized weight loss program. There are also weight loss meds and surgeries to consider as alternatives.