At some point in our lives all of us wish to lose weight. One day we catch ourselves in the mirror, see that extra weight around our midriff, and promise ourselves to lead a healthier lifestyle.
But how do you lose weight? Many people turn to the latest fad diet, and when they realise it’s a waste of time and money they move on to the next fad diet. Then the next. And the next. It’s like perpetually head butting a brick wall and expecting a different result.
But there is a way to lose weight, and more importantly to lose weight and keep it off. It’s not a sexy diet. It doesn’t make wild promises of losing 1 stone in a week. But it does guarantee that you will lose weight and keep it off. It’s calorie counting. So what is the recommended calorie intake to lose weight?
The average woman requires 2000 calories per day to sustain all her physical activities and bodily functions. For men, it is about 2500 calories per day. The exact figure depends on many factors, such as activity level, age, sex, weight, height, and many others. And as physical activity, and to some extent weight, can change on a daily basis, there is no exact figure.
But 2000 calories for women and 2500 calories for men is a very accurate estimate for you to work with.
If you were to eat more than these average daily requirements, on a regular basis, then gradually you will put on more and more weight. This is because all your excess calories that you consume, instead of being burnt off to sustain your body’s needs, will be converted to and stored as fat.
If you’re reading this because you want to lose weight (why else would you be reading it?) then this is what has happened to you. This is a harsh realisation, but it’s true. Over time, you’ve consume more calories than you body needs, and those calories have been turned to fat.
But, on the other hand, if you were to eat less than these daily average requirements, so that at the end of each day you have burned off more calories than you have consumed, then you will gradually lose weight. This is called calorie deficit.
And calorie deficit is the key to losing weight.
If you burn off more calories than you consume, then you will lose weight.
I always tell people to write this statement on a piece of paper. Write it in big, bold letters and pin it somewhere where you will see if often as a constant reminder. Pin it to your fridge, your bathroom mirror, beside your computer. Anywhere, just so long as you are constantly reminded.
Calorie deficit and your total weight loss
For every pound of excess fat in your body there is 3500 calories of energy. This is extremely useful information.
It means that, when your calorie deficit reaches 3500 calories, you will have lost 1 pound of fat. You weight scales will show that you are 1 pound lighter than before you were in calorie deficit.
Average this over a week, and it means you need a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories to lose 1 pound per week. All you have to do is maintain this calorie deficit state until you reach your ideal weight.
It really is that simple. If you are in calorie deficit, you will lose weight.
Be aware though that cutting your calorie intake by 500 calories per day should be about the maximum. If you cut you calories by much more than this you will start to feel lethargic and will eventually suffer from burnout.
So the recommended calorie intake to lose weight is up to 500 calories below your body’s daily requirement. That is 1500 calories per day for women, and 2000 for men.
Increasing calorie deficit with exercise and NEAT
Reducing your calorie intake is not the only way to increase your calorie deficit, and therefore increase your weight loss.
You can burn off extra calories by adding exercise into your lifestyle. It needn’t be vigorous and strenuous, though it would certainly be helpful. Just a brisk hour’s walk can burn about 400 calories. Do this a few times each week and you can see how your calorie deficit can really mount up.
However, you don’t even have to exercise to increase your calorie deficit. You can include NEAT into your lifestyle, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis if you don’t like acronyms. (Yeah, I prefer NEAT, too.)
This basically means that getting out of the sofa, simply moving around, will burn a load of calories, increasing your calorie deficit by up to several hundred calories per day! Just think about all the opportunities every single day that you have to get off your butt and move around. Instead of sitting around for your next phone call, get mobile with your mobile and pace around the room. Easy calorie burning! Up to three times more calorie burn than sitting down.
What about taking a few flights of stairs rather than the elevator? Jump of the bus a stop earlier. Do more gardening. House cleaning! Okay, let’s not push it. But you get the idea.