Cutting calories is one of the ways that people commonly lose weight. Sustainable calorie reduction eating plans can call for trimming as much as a quarter of your daily calories while still meeting your recommended daily nutritional needs. While this may sound like a lot, there are strategies to help you achieve these goals without feeling deprived or risking malnourishment.
Set Weight Loss Goals
When you cut calories to lose weight, you want to make sure that you still get enough energy (i.e., calories) each day and also get important macronutrients and micronutrients to keep your body strong and healthy during the weight loss journey.
As a rule of thumb, aim for a healthy weight loss goal of 1 pound per week by taking the number of calories you need each day to maintain your current weight and subtracting 500 to find your daily calorie target. This equation works because 1 pound of fat equals roughly 3,500 calories.
However, keep in mind that calorie counting is not an exact science. Reducing 500 calories per day is not a guarantee for weight loss. There are many factors that play a role in calorie intake and weight loss. Use a 500 calorie-per-day reduction as a starting point and make adjustments as needed.
For a sedentary to moderately active woman, roughly 1,800 to 2,000 calories are needed each day to maintain the current weight, while a sedentary to moderately active man would require 2,400 to 2,600 calories per day.1
That would mean reducing your daily consumption to around 1,500 calories per day if you are female and to around 1,900 calories per day if you are male. In either instance, that wouldn’t leave a lot of room for any extra snacks, toppings, or treats, so planning is key.
Remember that your calorie goal can vary depending on your weight and even your lean muscle mass. These 1,500 and 1,900 goals are not adequate or appropriate for everyone. To get a personalized estimate of your weight loss calorie goal, you can use a calculator that takes your age, sex, body size, activity level, and weight loss goals into account to determine a daily calorie target.