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 “extra weight loss” is 30% below maintenance. When you hit a weight loss plateau or find you are unsuccessful in losing weight with a 20% calorie reduction, try reducing your level to 30% below maintenance.
However, if you have already lost some weight and now have hit a weight loss plateau, it may just be that you need to recalculate your calorie requirements. When you weigh less, your daily calories requirements are also lower.
Avoid a massive cut in calories to lose weight:
- It may trigger your body to go into “starvation mode” and cause your metabolism to slow down.
- Your energy levels will be low so your level of physical activity will drop, both for intentional workouts and the general type of activity you do day-to-day called NEAT (Non-exercise activity thermogenesis), such as walking the dog or taking the stairs.
- Very low calorie diets are often not manageable in the long-term, lack essential nutrients, often lead to binge eating, and may adversely affect health.
If you are struggling to lose weight, calorie cycling might be a strategy to try. 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 (experts think our bodies are programmed to defend against weight loss, as until relatively recently in human history food was scare) and prevent the slowdown in metabolism that tends to occur when cutting calories.1
Calorie cycling may be an alternative to try instead of further cutting calories, if your weight loss has slowed or stopped. It may also help you feel less deprived and might be easier to maintain.2
The calorie cycling numbers in the calculator are only a guide/ example of calorie cycling, so adapt it to suit your needs.
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.
However, people who are entirely sedentary may have low calorie requirements just to maintain your current weight. Their calorie requirements will be close to Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the level of calories the 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|