How Many Calories Should You Really Eat Per Day To Lose Weight?

Ready to finally get that beach body? Or maybe you’re still shaking off those pandemic pounds? No matter the circumstance, most of us could stand to lose a bit of weight.

While exercise can help, most of the fittest bodies are created in the kitchen rather than the gym. So if you want to shed pounds, it starts by changing how you eat and reducing the overall amount of calories.

But how many calories should you really eat per day to lose weight? Keep reading to discover the answer!

What are calories?

Reducing calories to lose weight is a very basic idea. However, many who are trying to reduce how many calories they consume don’t know exactly what a calorie is!

Simply put, a calorie is a unit of energy. We burn calories through exercise and performing everyday tasks.

And we need a certain number of calories each day to provide us with enough energy to function properly. But if we’re being honest, most of us consume more calories than we actually need.

By consuming fewer calories than your body burns each day, it’s possible to lose weight.

RELATED: 5 Habits That Will Help You Lose Weight

How many calories should you eat to lose weight?

That brings us to the big question: how many calories should you eat to lose weight? The precise answer may vary based on factors like your gender, age, height, and current weight. While the calorie calculators further down can help you discover the best answer for your own body, here are the average calorie goals for weight loss.

Men

Average, moderately active men between the ages of 26–45 will maintain their current weight by eating 2,600 calories per day. Cutting that down to 2,100 calories a day will help facilitate weight loss at a rate of one pound per week.

Younger men between 19–25 generally need more calories and will maintain weight by eating 2,800 calories a day. Active young men who walk more than three miles per day need 3,000 calories each day to maintain weight. Cutting that down to 2,300 calories per day for average men, 2,500 calories per day for active men will help them lose one pound per week.

Older men between the ages of 46–65 who are moderately active need an average of 2,400 calories per day to maintain weight. After 65 years old, that goes down to about 2,200 calories per day, because men generally need fewer calories as they age.

Women

Average, moderately active women between the ages of 26–50 will maintain their current weight by consuming 2,000 calories per day. Reducing that to 1,500 calories per day will help lead to weight loss at a rate of one pound per week.

Active women in that age range who walk more than three miles per day need 2,200 calories or more daily to maintain their weight and at least 1,700 calories per day to lose one pound per week.

Younger women ages 20–25 need 2,200 calories per day to maintain weight and can lose weight at a rate of one pound per week by reducing that intake to 1,700 calories per day.

Average, moderately active women over 50 need about 1,800 calories per day to maintain weight and 1,300 calories per day to lose one pound per week.

Please note, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding need significantly higher calorie intakes than these estimates. Consult your doctor before beginning any weight loss regimen.

But for those of us whose doctors advise us to lose weight, what is the best way to reduce your calories?

How to reduce calorie intake

It’s easy to say that you’re going to eat fewer calories. Just ask anyone who ever started a diet and given up inside a month. To be successful in the long-term, though, you need good strategies for reducing your calorie intake.

Fortunately, we’ve got some strategies below that should be enough to kickstart your weight loss!

1. Ditch soft drinks and fruit juices

Normally, your body regulates calorie consumption. This is why you feel full after a big meal and don’t feel like eating again for a while.

Unfortunately, your body doesn’t process liquid calories the same way. So you may be getting plenty of calories from things like soft drinks and fruit juices despite feeling hungry, leading to the risk of weight gain and even obesity.

If you drink a lot of sodas and fruit juices, cut them out of your diet to easily reduce calories.

RELATED: 7 Myths About Weight Loss You Always Thought Were True

2. Focus on protein

While you can treat calorie reduction as a simple numbers game, certain foods are better than others. And foods high in protein can help you in your weight loss journey.

The secret? Protein takes more energy to metabolize, and so a diet high in protein may help you burn an additional 100 calories per day.

The cherry on top is that foods high in protein help you feel fuller for a longer time. This reduces how much you’ll feel like snacking even while helping you burn additional calories.

3. Lower those carbs 

If you’re like us, all those fad diets are enough to make your eyes roll. But they were right about one thing: lowering your carbs is the key to losing weight.

Carbs actually stimulate your appetite (which is one of the reasons that restaurants love to serve complimentary bread). By reducing how many carbs you eat, you can actually curb your appetite and eat fewer calories.

And contrary to what the fad diets say, you don’t have to cut carbs out completely. You can simply reduce carbs or even focus on single-ingredient foods that are high in fiber to achieve a similar effect.

RELATED: 25 Best Healthy Snacks For Weight Loss

4. Lift weights

One thing that feels very unfair about calorie reduction is that it can stop being as effective as it once was. That is because your body thinks it is helping by saving more energy, which reduces how many calories you burn each day.

If that wasn’t bad enough, long-term calorie reduction can lead to a loss of muscle mass. That means that even if you’re losing weight, you might not be getting the body you were hoping for.

Fortunately, these problems have a simple solution: lifting weights! This helps preserve your muscle mass while also keeping your metabolism high, both of which are important as you shed those pounds.

5. Hydration is the key

Even if you don’t exercise that much, hydration is an important key to losing weight. That is because water has two pleasant side effects in your body.

First, some studies have suggested that your body burns calories more efficiently up to 90 minutes after drinking water. And drinking two liters of water per day can help you burn an additional 96 calories each day.

Second, water helps you feel fuller. Drinking water before a meal will cause you to eat less even while improving how many calories you burn.

RELATED: 8 Things That Happen To Your Body When You Drink Water Every Day

The best online calorie counters

The daily calorie numbers we gave earlier were for average men and women. But as we noted, you will get the most accurate answer by putting your info into an online calorie counter. Which counters, though, are worth your time?

MyFitnessPal is a popular option for those hoping to lose weight. It can help you calculate calories, create fitness goals, and track your progress.

The bluntly named FatSecret is also a great calorie calculator, intuitive and easy to use. This calorie calculator is particularly useful for those hoping to cut carbs.

While these two calculators are our faves, the important thing is for you to find a calculator that suits your own purposes and lifestyle. Doing so will make cutting calories easier than ever.