How many calories should we cut to lose weight?

Anya Meyerowitz
·2-min read
Photo credit: Westend61
Photo credit: Westend61

From Red Online

If you're feeling sluggish after several lockdowns and a — slightly bizarre — festive season, you're not alone. Lots of us feel like we have put on a few pounds this year and it's only natural if we're moving less, eating more and feeling stressed to boot.

But with the turkey leftovers almost gone and January on the horizon, many of us are feeling the urge to get back into shape. For some this just means getting out on walks to help with that 'stiff' feeling or reintroducing self-care practices and for others it can mean losing weight.

But, if you're in the latter camp, the question is, how many calories do we need to eat to lose weight?

We know there are thousands of diets out there, a multitude of eating plans and every friend you ask about weight loss has a different piece of advice but really, when you get down to it, weight loss is mainly about the numbers.

We need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight, which simply means that we are burning more calories than we are eating. This will be different for everyone depending on the amount of exercise you do, whether you're male or female and how much muscle mass you have.

The formula to remember though is that one pound of fat is around 3,500 calories, and safe fat loss is one to two pounds per week. To lose one pound of fat per week, you'd need a 500-calorie deficit each day.

How many calories should we eat on average?

The answer to this question depends on numerous factors, including your age, height, current weight, activity level, and metabolic health, among several others.

The average, moderately active woman between the ages of 26–50 needs to eat about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight and 1,500 calories per day to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) of weight per week.

Women who are active and walk more than 3 miles per day will need to consume 2,200 calories or more daily to maintain their weight and at least 1,700 calories to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) of weight per week.

Young women in their early 20s have higher calorie needs. They require about 2,200 calories per day to maintain their weight.

Women over age 50 generally require fewer calories. The average moderately active woman over 50 needs about 1,800 calories per day to maintain her weight and 1,300 calories per day to lose 1 pound (0.45 kg) per week.

These estimates do not apply to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, as they have significantly higher calorie needs.

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