Whether you weight loss goal is five pounds, 20 pounds, or more the same basic principal applies when you are trying to lose weight.
A daily caloric deficit is required for you to lose weight
Basically this means that you need to burn more calories each day then you consume in order to lose weight. Sounds simple enough, right? But wait, first you need to figure out your daily calorie maintenance level. This is the amount of calories your body needs each day to maintain your current body weight. Your daily calorie maintenance level is calculated by summing the following:
- Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): the number of calories that your body needs daily to sustain your body’s vital functions when at rest.
- Your Daily Activity Level: this determines the amount of calories you burn each day in addition to your BMR
Of course, the daily calorie maintenance value is different for everyone, and it is dependent on factors such as age, gender, weight, your height, and daily activity level. You can use the calculator below to figure our your BMR, and daily maintenance level. This calculator is based on the widely used Harris-Benedict Equation, and should be a good estimate for most people. The exceptions are if you are very muscular, the formula underestimates your true caloric requirements or if you are “not so muscular” and have a higher body fat composition, the formula overestimates true caloric requirements.
Set Realistic Weight Loss Goals
Once you have calculated your daily calorie intake level to maintain your weight, then next goal is to determine what it would take to lose 1 to 2 pounds per week. It is generally recommended for most people to aim for 1 to 2 pounds in weight loss per week. It is a safer practice, and a more realistic goal that is easier to achieve. Plus, if you cut your calories to an extreme such that you are losing more than 2 pounds per week you may run the danger of also losing muscle which is definitely not the goal. If your body senses it is not receiving enough daily calories, its instinct will be to protect itself by storing the fat, and burning muscle for energy instead. So do not participate in any starvation diets if you want to lose the fat!
With that being said, 1 pound of fat contains 3500 calories.
That means in order to lose 1 pound of fat per week, you need to burn 500 calories more than you eat each day for one week.
So using the enhanced BMR calculator above, if you calculate that you need to consume 2900 calories per day to maintain your weight, then you need to consume 2400 calories per day over a seven day period to lose one pound. Another option is that you can increase your activity level to burn an extra 500 calories per day and eat the same number of calories you normally eat. As a general rule though, it is best to practice a combination of lowering your daily calorie consumption and increasing your exercise activity to effectively reach your weight loss goals.
A good start to your weight loss goals would be to take a look at your current average daily calorie consumption. If it is higher the your daily maintenance level, try starting out by cutting 500 calories a day from your diet. Also be sure to enhance the weight loss, by participating in a 30 minute cardio vascular routine at least 3 to 4 times per week.