To lose weight you need to calculate your daily calorie requirements. In other words, you need to know how many calories you require per day to simply maintain your current weight and how many calories you need to lose weight.
The calorie intake calculator below has 3 different calorie intakes, the first for weight maintenance and the other two for weight loss. Aim to use the “weight loss” daily level of calories, which is 20% less calories than maintenance.
The “extreme weight loss” is 40% below maintenance. This level essentially represents the lowest level, i.e. you should not lower your calorie intake below this point. When you hit a weight loss plateau or find you are unsuccessful in losing weight with a 20% calorie reduction, you can reduce your level to 30% below maintenance. However, you should reserve a severe calorie restriction of 40% below maintenance for exceptional circumstances, such as unsuccessful weight loss despite moderate calorie restriction in conjunction with at least 3 exercise sessions a week.
Do not start with a massive drop in calories. Firstly, this sends your body into panic, triggering a starvation response. Secondly, if you hit a weight loss plateau, you have nowhere to go from there, i.e. you can’t lower your calorie intake further without some serious risks to your health. Therefore, you should aim for gradual calorie reduction.
ZIG-ZAGGING/ CALORIE ROTATION
A great method of keeping the weight loss going, especially after you’ve hit a weight loss plateau or are simply struggling to lose weight, is zig-zagging your calorie intake. Zig-zagging (aka calorie cycling) involves having “high” and “low” calorie days, while providing the same amount of calories per week. Calorie cycling can help keep your body from catching on to your weight loss efforts and is a great alternative to further decreasing your total weekly calorie intake. These numbers are only a guideline/ example of calorie cycling.
A general rule of thumb is that you should not lower your calorie intake below 1200 calories for women and 1800 calories for men. A second tenet is not to decrease your calorie intake by more than 1000 calories below maintenance.
Remember, you want to burn the fat (exercise with moderate calorie restriction), not starve the fat (severe calorie restriction without exercise). These methods yield entirely different results. However, people who are entirely sedentary may have very low calorie requirements just to maintain your current weight. Their calorie requirements will be close to Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the level of calorie your body requires while at rest. Therefore, even a reasonable 500-calorie restriction could push them below the 1200-/ 1800-calorie mark.
Calories needed on average
|Maintain Weight||2000 – 2100||2700 – 2900|
|Lose Weight||1400 – 1800||2200 – 2700|