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How Many Calories Per Day to Lose Weight?

Conventional wisdom has always recommended eating less and exercising more if you want to lose weight. In theory, this makes sense – burn more calories than you eat, and the pounds will come off.

“Initially, any caloric restriction will almost always result in weight loss,” says Megan Wroe, a registered dietitian and wellness manager with Providence St. Jude Medical Center in Southern California.

Whether that calorie restriction is sustainable is another story. But let’s dive into the basics.

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How Do I Calculate How Many Calories I Need?

How many calories should you eat each day?

“(That) depends on a few factors, including your basal metabolic rate and activity level,” says Mia Syn, a registered dietitian based in Charleston, South Carolina, and author of “Mostly Plant-Based.”

Your basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the number of calories your body needs to maintain life-sustaining functions, such as breathing and keeping your heart beating. Your activity level is the frequency and intensity level of your movement.

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What Are Calories?

A calorie is a unit of measure for energy contained in a food item. The term “calorie” is used to describe the heat energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree Celsius. This means that 1 food calorie is actually 1,000 energy calories, or a kilocalorie.

Every food you eat has a caloric value, and there are many online lists and smartphone apps that can provide the exact number of calories a particular food item contains. For example, a medium banana contains about 100 calories, according to the U.S Department of Agriculture’s FoodData Central database.

How Many Calories Do You Need on Average?

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There is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many calories a person should consume. Your height, weight, activity level, sex and age, among other factors, all contribute to that one number. However, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans provides some general guidelines.

Calorie Deficit

If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to adjust the number of calories you consume. This is where a caloric deficit – burning more calories than you’re taking in – comes into play.

Because 1 pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories, you’ll need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories to lose 1 pound per week, for instance. Split that out over seven days, and you’re looking at consuming 500 fewer calories per day.

In total, according to Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommendations, women should consume 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day, and men should consume 1,500 to 1,800 calories per day to lose weight.

However, there can be a lot of variation from person to person, and those guidelines are solely intended for informational purposes.

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“It’s not meant to substitute for professional nutritional advice or treatment,” says Candace Pumper, a registered dietitian at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Tips for Reducing Calorie Intake

Here are a few tips to support your weight loss journey:

  • Taking it slow and steady. Pumper says that gradual weight loss is associated with greater declines in fat mass and body fat percentage. It can also help you preserve your resting metabolic rate, which is the number of calories you burn while at rest. If you cut too many calories for weight loss, your body can tip into starvation mode. As your body gets used to surviving off a smaller amount of calories, your metabolism can slow down, leading to a weight loss plateau. And, when you start adding calories back in, your weight can rebound.
  • Shift your mindset for better weight loss. To lose weight sustainably, Syn adds, you have to change your mindset from one of pursuing a quick fix to making manageable adjustments that add up over time. For instance, watch portion sizes and make healthy swaps of higher calorie and less nutritious foods for fresh produce and other nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
  • Get regular physical activity. Exercise should also be part of the equation. It can, for instance, help you retain muscle while you’re losing weight. In contrast, if you cut calories too drastically and don’t exercise, your body may begin burning muscle to fuel basic needs, which can further slow your metabolism because lean muscle burns more calories at rest than fat does.
  • Eat protein. To help retain muscle as you lose weight, you should make sure you’re eating enough protein. “You still need carbs and fat, but if you’re increasing the amount of protein that you’re having, you’ll feel fuller longer,” notes Dr. Danny Shouhed, a board-certified surgeon and founding medical director of the Bariatric Surgery and Metabolic Weight Loss Center at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica. This can help you stick with a reduced-calorie approach while making sure you don’t feel excessively hungry or skimp on the macronutrients your body needs.
  • Get a good night’s rest. Make sure you’re getting adequate sleep as well. You need sleep to repair your muscles after workouts and to support a healthy immune system and normal brain function.Read More:-Careers: Smarter, faster, stronger?: Artificial Intelligence leads to changes in labor industry

Ultimately, it’s important to keep your overall health in mind, even if weight loss is your focus, Pumper adds.

“Move away from restriction with food and toward abundance to ensure you get in the nutrients you need and emphasize healthy habits rather than sacrificing them,” she says. “It’s not anti-weight loss. It’s pro-health.”

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