How Many Calories Should You Cut to Lose Weight

If you're wondering how to figure out exactly how many fewer calories to lose weight, the easy answer is 1,500 calories a day for the average woman and 2,000 calories a day for the average man. However, because this calculation is a general rule and you may not be an average person, you will want to use a more complex calculator that is more accurate. One way you can calculate this out is to use the Harris-Benedict Calculator.

Determine your basal metabolic rate
Your basal metabolic rate is how many calories you burn in a day just living your daily life. The calculator differentiates between men and women because men and women, even those of the same height and weight, have differing caloric needs.

If you are a woman, you will need to multiply your weight in pounds by 4.3, multiply your height in inches by 4.7, add those two numbers together and then add 655 to that number. Now multiply your age in years by 4.7 and subtract this number from the first number.

If you are a man, you will need to multiply your weight in pounds by 6.3, multiply your height in inches by 12.9. Now add the first two numbers (weight calculation, height calculation) and add the number 66 to that.  Now multiply your age in years by 4.7 and subtract this number from the larger number.  You will get your basal metabolic rate from this.

Now factor in your activity level
Multiply your basal metabolic rate by the number that corresponds with your activity level.

  • If you are sedentary, do not exercise at all and sit at your job all day, use a 1.2 multiplier.
  • If you are somewhat active, meaning you exercise 2-3 times a week or walk while on your job, use a 1.375 multiplier.
  • If you are moderately active, meaning you exercise 5-6 days a week, use a 1.55 multiplier.
  • If you exercise every day and are active at your job, use a 1.725 multiplier.
  • If you exercise strenuously every day and are extremely active all day, use a 1.9 multiplier.

Your basal metabolic rate multiplied by the activity level multiplier will give you the number of calories you need to maintain your weight each day.

Use the example as a guide as you calculate your Harris-Benedict numbers

Example: If you are a woman who is 5'3", weighs 146 pounds and is 39 years old, your numbers would look like this:

                       146 x 4.3 = 627.8
                       63 x 4.7 = 296.1
                       627.8 + 296.1 + 655 = 1578.9
                       39 x 4.7 = 183.3
                       1578.9 - 183.3 = 1395.6
This woman's basal metabolic rate is 1395.6.

Let's say this woman is moderately active because she exercises five days a week for between 20-45 minutes at a shot.  1395.6 x 1.55 = 2163.18

This woman can eat a little under 2,200 calories a day and maintain her weight.

However, let's say this woman wants to lose 15 pounds in 15 weeks.  This means she will need to subtract 500 calories a day from her intake, allowing her to consume just under 1700 calories a day.  If she wants, she can choose to burn an additional 250 calories every day (in addition to what she usually burns) and only reduce her calorie intake by 250 calories if this is easier than cutting 500 calories.

Weight loss tips
If you want to lose weight, there are always some good basic tips to keep in mind:

  • Do count your calories.
  • Don't beat yourself over a bad day.
  • Do make up for a bad day by exercising extra or eating less the next day.
  • Don't try to be too aggressive with weight loss goals.
  • Slow and steady is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off.
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