How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day to Lose Weight?

Jul 26, 2011 by

The number of calories you should eat each day to lose weight depends on your actual weight and how many pounds you want to lose each week. A weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds a week is what health experts recommend. 

Below you will find a couple of tables to guide you with your calorie intake.



 Suggested number of calories to lose 1 pound per week

Your current weight in pounds To lose 1 pound a week
Less than 150 1,200 calories*
150 – 200 1,400 – 1,600 calories
More than 200 1,800 – 2,000 calories


Suggested number of calories to lose 2 pounds per week

Your current weight in pounds To lose 2 pounds a week
Less than 150 Not advised
150 – 200 1,200 calories
More than 200 1,300 – 1,500 calories

Wylie-Rosett et al. The Complete Weight Loss Workbook, American Diabetes Association, 1997

*Don’t go below 1,200 calories. If you don’t lose weight at this level, it is better to increase your physical activity than to reduce your calories too much.

You do not need to eat exactly the same number of calories each day. For example:

  • If you weigh 210 pounds, you could start with 1,300 – 1,500 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week or
  • You could start with 1,800 – 2,000 calories to lose 1 pound per week.
  • You may decide to be more flexible and let your calories range between 1,300 – 2,000 calories each day, realizing that on some days you will consume closer to 1,300 calories and on other days, 1800 – 2,000 may be more realistic.


Am I going to feel hungry?

You may find yourself at times thinking, Am I hungry? Well, if you go on a very low calorie diet of less than 1,000 calories per day, you will fell hungry much of the time. It is better for you to eat more calories, let’s say 1,200 to 1,500 calories, for a slower, but long-term weight loss. In the long run, restricting severely your calories can backfire if you are hungry all the time.  

On the other hand, you need to learn to distinguish between hunger and appetite. Here is the difference:

  • Hunger is a physiological response to the lack of food
  • Appetite is the desire to eat

Many things can trigger your desire to eat, even when you have just eaten. If you find yourself feeling hungry but quite picky about what you want to eat, ask yourself if it is truly hunger that you are feeling. However, if you try to cut calories by skipping meals, you are going to feel hungry.

To your weight loss success!

Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.

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