This is going to be an interesting write-up. The issue of obesity and weight-related ailments has got a whole lot of people worried and asking the right questions. Here I am going to address the issue from the calorie intake standpoint. We are going to go through the basics of calories and BMI and all that – Don’t worry, we will talk about BMI later on (in case you are wondering what it means). We will go into detail about the amount of calories you need to eat each day in order to lose weight and a couple of other stuff.

When the weight-talk comes up, a lot of people get apprehensive because they have been told that it takes a whole lot of work to lose weight and that the moment you stop exercising, you gain the weight right back. This makes people ask what the point is. Well there is a point to it and your body will thank you for it in the end. So let’s not waste anymore time and get into it.


How many calories should I eat to lose weight

This has got to be the starting point for any of this to continue. You may have heard this word a lot and I know I heard it a whole lot before I began even exploring ways to lose weight. Yes I used to be on the big side as a teenager and I needed to do something fast before I got entangled in a health challenge I wouldn’t be able to overcome easily. I was told I needed to burn calories and that got me asking the question – what the heck are calories?

Calories are units of energy. That is the basics. Any food we eat contains a number of calories and it is these calories we use all through the day. So you see, when we eat, we feel strong (because we have taken in calories) and when we exert energy, we burn those calories till the point where we need to ‘refill’ in order to do more work.


After that brief explanation, it is plain to see that if you take in fewer calories than you burn, you lose weight -the science is as simple as this. On the flip side of course, we have it that when we take in more calories than we use up in a day, we gain weight.

The amount of calories you eat to lose weight then depends on a number of factors – one of which is your BMI (Body Mass Index)


How many calories should I eat to lose weight

So what is BMI? Simply put, the BMI (Body mass index) is the measure of your body fat in relation on your weight and height. Your BMI helps you know really quickly weather or not you are overweight (sure you can do this by looking at the mirror but the BMI narrows it down to numbers so you know exactly where you are and what you need to do in order to lose weight.

It is used as a kind of assessment as to know if a person is mildly overweight, overweight, obese, or within a healthy weight for their height and age.


There are essentially two ways to calculate BMI. There is the metric method and the imperial method.

Metric BMI formula

This formula is pretty simple; you calculate your Body Mass Index as your weight in kg divided by your height in m2. (Weight (kg) / Height (m)2)

Imperial BMI Formula

This one is more American friendly as it lets you calculate BMI using your weight in pounds (lbs.) which you multiply by 703 and divide by your height in inches. (Weight (lbs.) * 703 / Height (inches)2)

A BMI of 30 and above means a person is obese and needs a lot of help as quickly as possible, a BMI of 25-29.9 means a person is overweight, 18.5-24.9 means a person is a healthy weight and anything less than 18.5 means that a person is underweight and also needs a lot of food as quickly as possible.

My Experience

How many calories should I eat to lose weightI grew up as a fat kid and I thought it was my destiny to be fat. I had parents who were overweight so I assumed it was genetic. I was 68 inches tall and I weighed 190 pounds. I got down calculating my BMI using the imperial formula above

(Weight (lbs) * 703 / Height (inches)2 )

190 x 703 / 682


So you see I was heading for a not-so-good place. That is when I got off my bum and stopped blaming genetics for my weight. I went on a diet and started a diet program called The Abs Diet by David Zinczenko. That was the starting point to my improved health and fitness.


One pound of fat is 3500 calories. So in order to lose a pound of fat in a week, you need to reduce your calorie intake by 500 a day. So for a woman who usually takes in about 2000 calories in a day, she would need to cut it down to 1500 and a man who usually would take in 2500 calories in a day, it would need to cut to say 2000.


How many calories should I eat to lose weightThe great news about the human body is that every waking activity – including rest – can burn calories. Technically, you need energy to stay awake so all through the day you are burning calories. While our bodies are still alive, there is a whole system underneath our skin and that system burns calories while doing what it does – things like pumping blood, fighting off germs, and maintaining hair and nail growth are not easy tasks and some energy is expended (though you don’t see it) while doing that.

Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories required to keep your body functioning while at rest. This, like BMI is dependent on your height and weight as well and there are a couple of online calculators which you can use in order to calculate your BMR. CLICK HERE

Basal metabolic rate is basically your body’s metabolism so anything which increases your metabolism, such as exercise, will increase your BMR. Once you know what your BMR is, you can monitor how many calories you need to eat to lose or maintain your current weight.

How to calculate BMR?

To calculate your BMR manually, there is a simple formula.

For women: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

For men: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years).

Okay perhaps that is not the simplest formula you have ever seen but we will take the case of Jen, a slightly overweight but very beautiful lady who is currently 27 years of age. She decided to watch her calories for 12 weeks and track her results as she went along. Jen wanted to lose weight by doing the math – reducing calories and working out just enough to drop 20 pounds and no more. To do this, she had to evaluate the amount of food she was taking in and check the activities she packed into her day. She is a stay at home consultant so when she is not on the phone or her computer, she unwinds by watching movies ad she is a great chef – that is how she put on the weight in the first place.

To calculate her basal metabolic rate, Jen had to take into consideration her weight which was 202 pounds at the time, her height (66 inches) and her age. That being done, this is what we would have:-

Jen’s BMR = 655 + (4.35 x 202) + (4.7 x 66) – (4.7 x 27)

Jen’s BMR = 655 + 878.7 + 310.2 – 126.9

Jen’s BMR = 1970.8

Looking at this figure, Jen knew exactly what she needed to do next. She knew exactly what kind of exercise program she needed to follow; she knew exactly how many calories she needed to cut from her diet. She was able to lose 20 pounds in about 4 months.

HOW MANY CALORIES DO I BURN A DAY? (With physical activity)

For this explanation to be better understood, we will use the story of Gary. Gary is a 155-pound man who is 5ft 10in tall and the table below is an approximation of what Gary burns doing some daily physical activities. Those who weigh more will burn more calories doing the same activities and those who weight less with use fewer calories doing the same things.

1 hour 30 mins
Hiking 370 185
Light Gardening 330 165
Dancing 330 165
Bicycling 290 145
Walking 280 140
Stretching 180 90
Vigorous weight lifting 440 210
Swimming 500 250

With the above table, you could see how many calories we burn by adding simple activities to our day and this is what Gary has used to maintain a healthy BMI of 22.2 for the past 3 years.


When it comes to the issue of knowing how many calories you should eat in a day, it is dependent on you. With your basal metabolic rate properly calculated, you can determine for yourself how many calories you can safely consume in a day to lose, or maintain your current weight.


It is fair to get the basic that a great diet and an exercise plan will help you lose weight. This however is more than just about losing weight, we want a sustainable plan and most importantly, we want to get to a point and then maintain our new weight. This is where the numbers come in. Whether you are thinking about how many calories to lose weight, or plainly how much exercise you need to do, this article helps you figure it all out and with the knowledge gained, you can see for yourself that you hold the key to your body’s weight loss.

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