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How Many Calories Should I Eat a Day

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‘You (generally) are what you eat’ has a certain ring of truth about it, and also points towards a practical solution for anyone who decides they want to lose weight. If weight loss is primarily the result of consuming less calories than your body actually burns – usually known as a calorie deficit – then, as this article discusses, the real question becomes: ‘ How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight? ‘

Quick answer

There’s no quick answer! According to the NHS, ‘it depends’, and, like this article, they go on to explain why.

Weight loss in context

If you plan to lose weight you should, above all, ensure that you are otherwise in normal good health. Of course, the sensible approach is to follow the NHS’s suggestion and ‘seek the advice of a health professional before starting on any weight loss programme’.

To make your dieting effective, it’s essential to incorporate exercise too. Not only will it help burn off calories quicker, exercise will also make you feel better and help towards developing a healthier lifestyle to control your weight in the longer term. For the same reasons, choosing healthy food options is also an important feature of effective dieting and helps keep the pounds off permanently.

Body Mass Index

Any diet plan should start with a calculation of your Body Mass Index (BMI). Many online health and diet sites include an on-site calculator, and there’s even an iPhone app. If you’re not already a ‘healthy weight’, your BMI calculator will help you make safe weight loss calculations based on your own height, weight, gender etc. which will enable you to plan your way towards that target weight.

Safe weight loss

Most experts agree that gradual and modest weight loss is safer, more achievable, and more likely to achieve permanent results. Following a moderate diet, with exercise, it is generally considered safe to lose weight at a weekly rate of around 1lb to 2lb (0.5kg to 1kg). So anyone planning to lose a stone could potentially reach their target in something like 7–14 weeks.

Calorie allowances: How many calories do I need a day?

A normal ‘recommended’ calorie allowance per day is 2,500 calories for a man, and 2,000 calories for a woman. With a diet and exercise plan in place, the daily eating and drinking calorie allowance necessary to achieve weight loss would be up to 1,900 calories for a man, and 1,400 for a woman.

If you are used to eating considerably more than the recommended normal calorie intake, then the answer to ‘ How many calories do i need a day? ‘ in this scenario is that you should avoid any sudden reduction, and aim instead to reduce your food consumption gradually, easing down closer towards the recommended levels over a few weeks.

Calorie calculators

Having answered ‘ How many calories should i eat a day? ‘, your next issue will be keeping track of your daily calorie intake. Here, as with BMI calculations, there are very efficient online calorie checkers and downloadable apps which will enable you to calculate your daily totals.

In the end, losing weight generally comes down to the three P’s: planning, perseverance, and patience. The medical profession seem to agree that fast weight loss – though tempting – is rarely permanent and sometimes dangerous.

So it’s always best to make haste slowly, celebrating when you lose a stone, and making your healthy weight part of a lifestyle choice which makes you feel good, rather than a nightmare gallop in search of a place called thin!

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