How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat a Day for Weight Loss?

By Lizzie Streit, MS, RDN, LD 

Calories are units of energy that make up the foods we eat. To lose weight, you need to eat less calories than you burn. In other words, you need to be in a calorie deficit.  

In general, eating 500 less calories than you need a day will lead to losing one pound a week. This is because one pound of fat is equal to 3500 calories. Typically, people will use a combination of diet changes and exercise to reach their intended calorie deficit.  

The amount of calories that each person needs depends on a variety of factors, including age, gender, weight, height, and activity level, to name a few. 

Once you factor in all of those variables and figure out how many calories you need for weight maintenance, you can subtract 500 calories from that number to get your daily needs for weight loss. Keep in mind that the amount you subtract depends on if you want to lose more or less than one pound a week.  

After you figure out your target calorie intake, you can log your food choices in a phone app or online program to see if you are meeting your goals.  

That sounds easy enough, right? But you may be wondering, where do you find the tools to calculate calorie needs? 

There are different formulas you can use to figure it out, but luckily, there’s no need to whip out a pencil and paper to do the math. There are several online calculators that can do it for you!  

Here at Healthy For Life Meals, we created a tool to help you figure out your calorie needs for weight loss. Our interactive calculator considers your age, gender, height, current and target weights, and activity level to come up with your individualized daily calorie needs.  

Once you figure out that number, you can decide what plan from Healthy For Life Meals is right for you: 1200, 1500, or 2000 calories per day. It’s as easy as that! 

Keep in mind that decreasing energy intake is only one aspect of losing weight and eating healthy. You will still want to eat meals and snacks that include mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats. These nutritious foods are what make up our recipes at Healthy For Life Meals! 

By eating whole foods, you will get all of the nutrients you need and stay satisfied. Decreasing calorie intake but filling up on less healthy foods may make you more prone to cravings and make it difficult to keep weight off.   

Figuring out your daily calorie needs for weight loss is a great place to start if you are interested in shedding some pounds. But remember - both the quantity and quality of the food you eat is important for losing weight and getting healthy.   

Note from Healthy For Life Meals: Tired of trying to figure out your energy needs and count calories on your own? Let us do the work for you! By using our interactive calculator, you can easily decide on the right plan for you. Our weekly meals are prepared to meet your needs so you don’t have to focus on adding up your food choices!  

Stef Keegan