How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?

How Many Calories Should I Eat to Lose Weight?

On average, men need around 2,500 calories per day to maintain their weight, and 2,000 to lose 1lb per week. Women require slightly fewer, with 2,000 calories per day needed to maintain their weight, and 1,500 to lose 1lb per week.

This is not an exact figure for everyone, however, as the exact number of calories needed for each person is affected by many factors including age, weight, height and physical activity levels.

What are calories?

A calorie is the unit that energy is measured in. Within food products, a calorie usually means the energy content of that particular food or beverage.

In order to lose weight, you need to eat fewer calories each day than your body burns.

How can I reduce my calorie intake without being hungry?

Although it may seem fairly simple to lose weight by cutting calories, it can be an unsustainable method of losing weight. For some people, this method works perfectly fine, but many people end up being hungry and giving up on a calorie-restricted/calorie-counting diet.

It is therefore recommended that other changes are carried out in order to maintain a calorie deficit without starving yourself. Fortunately, there a few easy ways to reduce calories while ensuring that you do not starve.

Low-carb high-fat diet

One very effective way to lose weight and reduce calorie intake is to limit the intake of carbohydrates and sugars, while increasing protein and fat intake.

This often leaves people feeling much more satiated, and therefore they tend to eat fewer calories, with studies showing that low-carb diets can help you to lose around twice as much weight as a calorie-restricted diet. [163]

Low-carb also has a number of health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, as it lowers insulin production, but you should always consult your doctor before adopting a low-carb diet. If you have any existing medical conditions then you should consult your doctor, because for some people a low-carb diet is unsuitable.

While a low-carb high-fat diet has been effective for a number of people, you don’t have to follow it if you don’t want to. However, when you do eat carbohydrates, just try to ensure that whole foods are your source rather than sugary drinks and heavily processed foods.

Drinking more water

Water is excellent. Not only does it contain zero calories, but drinking sufficient amounts of water can increase the number of calories you burn, with researchers finding that consuming two litres of water each day sees you burn 96 more calories.

Another study found that drinking 500ml of water before meals increased weight loss by 44 per cent over 12 weeks. [164]

Caffeinated drinks such as green tea and coffee are also very beneficial for weight loss, as caffeine boosts your metabolism in the short-term. [165]

Avoid sugary soft drinks

Another pretty simple change to make is to remove any calories consumed in the form of sugar from soft drinks such as sodas, milkshakes and juices.

Calories in soft drinks aren’t processed by your body in the same way as calories from real food, so your brain is incapable of compensating correctly and you remain hungry. [166] Sugary drinks tend to have no nutritional benefit either, leading to them branded as “empty calories”.

Numerous studies have shown that there is a strong link between obesity and sugary drinks, with one study finding a 60 per cent increased risk of obesity for each soft drink consumed per day. [167]

It’s worth remembering that sugar doesn’t only lead to weight gain, it is also associated with an increased risk of developing certain diseases such as type 2 diabetes, as well as drastically lowering metabolic rates.

Small amounts of natural sugars found in foods such as fruits are fine, but large amounts of added sugar should definitely be avoided.

Increase protein intake

For weight loss, protein is the ultimate nutrient, and is one of the simplest and most effective ways to lose weight without starving yourself.

Numerous studies have found that protein increases your metabolic rate while simultaneously curtailing your appetite. [168] It requires a large amount of energy to digest fully, so a diet that is high in protein consumption could see you burning an extra 100 calories each day. [169]

Other studies have found that people whose diet saw them consume 30 per cent of their daily calories in the form of protein ate 441 fewer calories each day. [170]

Put simply, an increase in protein consumption can increase metabolic rate, reduce cravings, nullify your appetite and make your body burn more calories when digesting food. Furthermore, it will help build strong muscles when you exercise.

Exercise and weight lifting

When fewer calories are consumed, our bodies automatically compensate by making us burn fewer calories. This means that long-term calorie restriction can reduce your metabolism and make you lose muscle mass, due to muscle being metabolically active.

The only proven method of avoiding this is to lift weights to exercise your muscles, with this being shown to help prevent muscle loss and metabolic slowdown. [171]

If it isn’t possible for you to go to a gym for this, then you should do some bodyweight exercises, such as sit-ups, push-ups or squats when possible.

Cardio may also help with weight loss, but is not essential. However, the benefits of exercise for mood and general health are extensive.

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