Here’s How Many Calories You Should Eat If You Want to Lose Weight — and Keep It Off
There are likely many people you know who are currently trying to lose weight. In fact, it’s estimated that 45 million American adults each year change their diet in an attempt to lose weight, and Americans spend $33 billion (yes, billion!) each year on weight-loss products. One of the biggest questions people ask is what kind of calorie deficit they should be aiming for in order to shed some pounds. How many calories should you be eating each day? What foods should you avoid? These are common questions that are worth asking — and definitely worth answering.
Although there are many so-called effective weight-loss methods (keto diet, intermittent fasting, fasted cardio, etc.), weight loss comes down to calorie deficit at the end of the day. You have to burn more calories than you’re consuming in order to lose weight. All the other methods will help you get there, but they won’t be the primary reason you see the numbers go down on the scale.
Here are some basic questions answered about calorie deficit if you’re on the weight-loss train. As always, don’t forget to speak to your medical professional before you make any major changes in your diet or lifestyle.
Do You Need to Eat Fewer Calories to Lose Weight?
The answer to this question isn’t as simple as you might think. Yes, you need to be in a calorie deficit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to eat less food. Here’s what we mean by that: if you consume the exact same number of calories you’re eating right now on a daily basis but just add in more frequent strength training and cardio, which burns calories both during the workout and while you’re resting later throughout the day, you might get yourself to a calorie deficit without changing your diet. However, you’ll see much better results if you also change your diet and eat fewer calories each day.
How Many Fewer Calories Should You Eat?
The basic science you need to know is, you need to be in a 3,500 calorie deficit in order to lose one pound of fat in the body. A very common way to incorporate that information into your daily life is to try to eat 3,500 fewer calories each week. That means you’d have to eat 500 fewer calories each day of the week in order to lose one pound of fat a week.
For many people, that’s a pretty big jump to make in the beginning, though. You might want to consider eating 250 less calories each day, which would allow you to lose one pound every two weeks. Although it may sound like a very slow process, this kind of steady, gradual change to your diet and lifestyle will likely offer more sustainable, longer-lasting weight-loss effects.
What Foods Should You Avoid?
You probably already know the answer to this one already, but it doesn’t hurt to review the information! Steer clear of refined sugars, processed and packaged foods, fried food, and anything that’s made with chemicals or preservatives you don’t recognize on the nutrition label. Although the quantity of your calories matters, the quality of your food matters just as much. Sure, you could in theory lose weight if you eat only 1,200 calories of McDonald’s every day, but you probably wouldn't be able to sustain this because you would feel sluggish, cloudy-headed, and physically and mentally exhausted.
Stick to clean, whole foods that are as untouched as possible. You’ll stay fuller for longer, feel clear-headed and energetic, and keep yourself on the path for success. Healthy Truth has a wide variety of options that will help you stay in a safe calorie deficit. Try our Sprouted Nut Clusters, Protein Crunches, and unsweetened dried fruits.