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

How many calories do I need? How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight and gain muscle?

To lose a pound a week, you need to burn 500 calories more than you take in with food each day. Or we can say that another way: You should eat 500 fewer calories than you burn each day. As you see, to lose weight you should increase your activity to burn more calories or reduce your caloric intake by eating less food. In fact, you can do both.

To eat 500 calories fewer than you burn, you need to know how many calories you burn. How do you estimate your calories out? Good news is that your body is constantly burning calories. It continues to burn calories even when you are at rest. How so? Calories are energy, and your body needs energy for maintaining life processes such as breathing. The number of calories your body burns for maintaining life is called Basal Metabolic Rate. And again we’ve got good news: your Basal Metabolic Rate depends on your weight, height and age. The more you weigh, the more calories your body burns even when you are at rest.

When you do any activity, you also burn calories. You burn calories doing your bed, playing with children or walking the dog. The more intensive your activity is, the more calories you burn. Thus, you burn more calories running then walking.

To estimate your calorie requirements (the number of calories that would allow you to avoid losing or gaining weight), you have to multiply your Basal Metabolic Rate by your activity factor. To calculate your Basal Metabolic Rate, use this formula:

For men, BMR = 66+ ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) – ( 6.76 x age in years )
For women, BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) – ( 4.7 x age in years )

Now let’s calculate your calorie requirements.

If you do not exercise at all, multiply your BMR by 1.2. You may ask, “Why?” The answer is: you still do some activities, as you do not stay in bed all day long, so you burn calories.
If you do light exercises one to three days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.375.
If you do moderates exercise three to five days a week, multiply your BMR by 1.55.
If you do heavy exercises every day or almost every day, multiply your BMR by 1.725.

Using the above formulas, a 30 year old, 160-pound woman who is 5 ft. 5 in. would have a BMR of 1515 Calories. If she did not exercise, her daily calorie requirements would be 1818, that is she would need 1818 Calories a day to maintain her weight. To lose weight, she would have to reduce her caloric intake by 500 Calories to 1318 Calories a day. If she exercised moderately three to five days a week, her daily calorie requirements would be 2348 Calories per day. To lose a pound a week, she would be able to allow herself to get 1848 Calories. Do you see now why exercises are important? They not only help get in shape but also allow eating more food and still lose weight. In our example, the women who exercised moderately would be able to eat 530 calories more and still lose a pound per week.

Now you can calculate how many calories you should eat a day to lose weight. Make sure you do not go below 1200 calories a day as very low calorie diets may not provide you with enough nutrition for maintaining health.

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