How Many Calories Do You Need?

For those looking to lose weight, one of the first questions is how many calories do I need to cut to lose weight? Well, the answer to that is: it depends.

I say this because it depends on a variety of factors. The first is how many calories you're burning while you're at rest. That is to say, how many calories do you burn while you're sitting at home in your pj's, watching youtube (or reading blog posts). This can be figured out a few ways. One is to use a calculator, like the one at: This a great place to start for someone who is trying to get a good baseline of how many calories you are burning in a day.

Another way to figure this out is using your fitness tracker watch, such as Fitbit, Apple watch or Garmin. These use your heart rate and BMR to paint a clearer picture of your daily calorie burn.

Lastly, you can visit a local BOD POD which will give you the most accurate measure of your daily caloric needs.

Now that you have your base line, you can work to figure out how many calories you need to shave to lose weight. This can be accomplished with diet, exercise or a combination of both.

Recommended healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds a week (What is Healthy Weight Loss, 2020). That is a 3,500 to 7,000 calorie deficit a week (1 lb=3,500 calories). So if we break that down to a daily goal, that is 500-1000 a day deficit (Counting Calories: Getting Back to Basics, 2020).

So let's use an example (which will be me). I started this journey at 174 lbs. My Fitbit calculates I burn about 2,000 a day at rest. If I want to lose 2 pounds a week, I need to cut 1,000 calories a day from that. I could accomplish this by eating only 1,000 calories a day (which does NOT sound like fun at all). Or I could try to burn an extra 1,000 calories by exercising (which is not realistic). OR I could do a combination of the two (sounds much better).

I settled on eating 1,200 calories a day and burning an extra 200 calories a day through exercise. This week will be 3 weeks of using this strategy and it has worked well for me. However, this is a personal choice that needs to be based on lifestyle, realistic goals and individual needs.

I hope this has been helpful for anyone looking to start their weight loss journey. So what's your strategy? Move more? Eat less? Or a combination of both?


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020, August 17). Losing Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.,successful%20at%20keeping%20weight%20off.

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, December 8). Counting calories: Get back to weight-loss basics. Mayo Clinic.,(0.5%20kilogram)%20a%20week.

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