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Regular exercise helps maintain weight loss.
Calorie requirements for weight loss are highly individualized, but fairly simple to determine. Your unique calorie needs for weight loss are based on your gender, physical activity level and weight-management goals. For effective weight loss, you must burn more calories than you eat on a daily basis - which creates a calorie deficit.
The optimal calorie deficit is 500 to 1,000 calories daily, suggests the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This deficit often leads to a weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds weekly, the CDC notes. Therefore, to effectively lose 1 to 2 pounds per week, reduce your current intake by 500 to 1,000 calories each day - or, you could combine a reduced-calorie diet with increased calorie expenditure through exercise to create a 500- to 1,000-calorie deficit.
While many women need about 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily for effective weight loss, active women and men may require up to 1,600 calories a day to drop weight safely, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. The NHLBI also suggests that women weighing 165 pounds or more may need 1,200 to 1,600 calories daily to lose weight at a safe pace. If weight loss is not occurring when eating 1,600 calories a day, try a 1,200-calorie meal plan.
The University of Washington recommends overweight and obese individuals eat 10 calories for each pound of their goal weight. For example, if your goal weight is 135 pounds, aim for 1,350 calories daily -- and if your goal weight is 165 pounds, shoot for 1,650 calories each day to help achieve that goal. Once you reach your desirable body weight, the University of Washington suggests you need 13 to 18 calories per pound of your current weight - depending on your activity level - to maintain that weight.
Healthy Food Choices
To keep yourself feeling full from fewer calories during weight loss, strive to eat fiber-rich and high-protein foods - which both help increase satiety. According to a study published in 2009 in the вЂњJournal of Nutrition,вЂќ a protein-rich diet even increases your body's daily calorie expenditure. Choose high-protein meats, poultry, seafood, egg whites, low-fat dairy foods, soy products and seitan. Pick fiber-rich vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, whole grains and legumes.