Use a Simple Weight Maintenance or Weight Loss Calculator
Some calorie calculators help you find out how many calories to eat every day if you want to maintain your weight. Some even help you to gain weight. But if you’re trying to slim down, you might need a weight loss calculator. One that will answer the most important weight loss question: “how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?”
It’s simple to calculate the right number of calories for weight loss, for weight gain, or for weight maintenance. Just follow these simple steps. Then, you’ll know how many calories you need to eat a day to reach your goal.
How Does a Weight Loss Calculator Work?
If losing weight is your primary goal, it’s smart to use a weight loss calculator. It’s a simple procedure and can even be fun and interesting—even if you’re not trying to change your weight.
How does a calorie counter work? After you input data, it uses a formula called the Mifflin St. Jeor equation to calculate your resting metabolic rate. That’s the number of calories your body needs to function when it is at rest. Then, based on your personalized lifestyle information, the calculator adds the number of calories you need to fuel your body for daily activity. Finally, it either adds calories to gain weight or subtracts calories to help you lose weight.
But what if you want your weight to stay the same? The calculator can figure out how many calories you should eat to maintain weight as well. This information is helpful for many healthy eaters. If you are at a healthy weight and want to maintain your body size, you should make sure that you don’t eat too much or too little. For some adults, that means consuming a 2000-calorie diet. That’s the number that is referenced on the Nutrition Facts label. But many people are larger or smaller than average, or are more or less active than normal and have different calorie needs.
Using the Weight Loss Calculator
Are you ready to give the calorie calculator a try? You’ll need to provide some vital information about your age, gender, height, and your current weight to get the right calorie number. The calculator requires this data because these are factors that influence your metabolic rate—or the number of calories that your body needs to function. In general, men need more calories than women. Larger bodies need more calories than smaller bodies, and younger adults require more calories than older adults.
You’ll also be asked about your activity habits. If your body is more active during the day, it requires more fuel (in the form of calories). Try to be as honest as possible about your exercise and daily activity habits. If you fudge the numbers, you won’t get an accurate result. If you’re not sure how active you are during the day, keep an activity journal for a week or look at data from your fitness tracker to get a quick estimate.
Next, you’ll be asked about your goals. It’s important to be realistic during this step. Your goal weight may be different than an ideal weight or a perfectweight. For example, you may want to weigh 120 pounds. But if you have struggled with your weight for most of your life and have never been lower than 150 pounds, then 120 may not be realistic at this time. Try to set a goal that you believe to be attainable. Once you reach your goal, you can always set a new one.
Lastly, you’ll have the option to select a date when you’d like to reach your goal.
Reaching Your Goal Weight
When you complete the calorie calculator process, you’ll get a daily calorie goal. This is the number of calories you should eat each day to reach your desired weight in the time frame that you set. If you are trying to gain weight, your daily calorie goal will include a calorie surplus. But if weight loss is your goal, a calorie deficit is factored into your final number.
A calorie deficit is simply an energy shortfall. When you create a calorie deficit, you deprive your body of the fuel it needs to function. So, your body burns stored fat (excess weight) for fuel instead. A calorie deficit occurs when you cut calories by eating less than your body needs or burn extra calories with physical activity. You can also combine diet and exercise to create a calorie deficit.
As a general rule, most experts say that a total weekly calorie deficit of 3,500 calories will lead you to lose one pound of weight. If you cut more calories, you’ll lose weight faster. But it is not safe or practical to cut too many calories. Very low-calorie diets (less than 800-1000 calories per day) can backfire and should only be followed with a doctor’s supervision.
Sound complicated? Let’s use an example to explain. Let’s say that you are a sedentary woman. That means that you don’t exercise on a regular basis. The weight loss calculator may say that you need to eat 1,200 calories per day to lose weight. But you don’t think that you can cut enough food from your diet to reach that number. That’s OK. You can simply add exercise to your weekly routine to account for a few extra calories.
Here are a few ways you might make it work:
- Eat 1,300 (100 extra) calories each day and add a short evening walk to your daily routine to burn the extra 700 calories each week.
- Eat 1,400 (200 extra) calories each day and add a HIIT workout to your schedule two times per week and three 30-minute walks during the week to burn the extra 1,400 calories each week.
- Eat 1,500 (300 extra) calories each day and add 45 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise to your daily schedule to burn the extra 2100 calories each week.
In each of these scenarios, you’ve added calories to your daily food budget, but you’ve burned more calories with exercise to maintain the proper calorie deficit for weight loss. If you want to lose weight faster, you just add the exercise to your daily routine without adding calories to your daily diet.