Daily Caloric Intake to Lose Weight

Daily Caloric Intake to Lose Weight

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Choose fiber-rich foods like grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. Images

It's no surprise many Americans diet to lose weight. More than 69 percent of U.S. adults are classified as overweight or obese, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Your calorie needs for weight loss depend on your current energy intake, gender, activity level and weight loss goals.


The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests overweight individuals aim to lose about 1 to 2 pounds weekly, which is safe but effective for long-term success. To reach this goal, reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories daily. Cut back on foods like sugary drinks, sweets, baked goods, high-fat meats, full-fat dairy foods and refined grains, such as white bread. Five hundred calories can quickly add up. For example, two cans of lemon-lime-flavored soda contain about 300 calories, reports the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

General Recommendations

Generally, diets containing 1,000 to 1,600 calories daily are appropriate for weight loss, suggests the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Inactive women may need 1,000 to 1,200 calories each day, while active women and most men generally require 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day for successful weight loss. Men who exercise regularly may need additional calories to safely lose 1 to 2 pounds weekly, depending on how many calories they burn exercising. Adding physical activity to your weight loss program can improve weight loss, especially long-term, reduce body fat and lower your disease risks.

Calories per Pound

You can use body weight to estimate your individualized calorie needs for weight loss. If you're overweight or obese, the University of Washington suggests eating 10 calories for each pound of your desirable body weight. For example, if your desirable body weight is 130 pounds, aim for about 1,300 calories daily to reach your goal. A woman's ideal body weight is 100 pounds for the first 5 feet of her height plus 5 pounds for each inch over 5 feet. A man's ideal weight is 106 pounds for the first 5 feet of his height plus 6 pounds for each inch over 5 feet. Because frame sizes differ, the University of Washington notes a variation of 10 percent of your ideal weight is within a healthy range.

Very Low-Calorie Diets

Medically supervised very low-calorie diets are sometimes appropriate for obese individuals at a high risk for obesity-related health problems. These diets, often referred to as VLCDs, contain 800 calories or less and can lead to a more rapid weight loss of 3 to 5 pounds weekly, reports Weight-control Information Network. Since health problems, such as nutrient deficiencies, are a concern with VLCDs they should only be used when supervised by a doctor.