Many want to know how many calories they should have per day, but it may be even more helpful knowing how many calories to cut out.
I am 35 years old 6 foot 2 inches, my weight is 225 lbs. I want to go down to 210 lbs., my current body fat is 18%. How many calories should I be taking in?
– Frederick B.
It’s a lot easier to cut 500 calories daily (for weight loss) than to count up to 2,000+ calories for a full day. If you know how many calories you’re already consuming, you can reach the desired deficit by reducing portions and substituting lower-calorie foods. For example, you can save over 300 calories by switching from 3 large slices of pepperoni thick-crust pizza to 3 medium slices of cheese thin-crust pizza.
Let’s say you have no idea what your current energy intake is. One calculation estimates you’d need to consume no more than 2100 calories (2600 – 500) per day to lose weight, assuming 30 minutes of daily moderate physical activity. Another indicates 2500 calories under the same conditions. The actual amount you need depends on your activity level and individual metabolism.
The real question is how you’ll count all those calories. You could use a diet analysis app or program like the USDA’s SuperTracker or follow a plan that has 2200 calories already calculated. See a sample plan in my answer to a similar question here: Food Options to Drop Weight & Tone | Q+A.
If your weight plateaus, you don’t necessarily need to cut back further on your food! So that you don’t end up under-eating and missing nutrients, you may want to consider increasing your exercise to create a sufficient caloric deficit to lose those 15 pounds.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.
Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.