How Many Calories Should You Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?

This is a simple but highly accurate scientific calorie calculator, along with 5 evidence-based tips on how to sustainably reduce calorie intake.

Enter your details in the calculator below to figure out how many calories you should be eating per day to either maintain or lose weight.

1. Eating More Protein Can Reduce Appetite, Cut Cravings and Increase the Number of Calories You Burn

When it comes to losing weight, protein is the king of nutrients.

Adding protein to your diet is the simplest, most effective and most delicious way to lose weight with minimal effort.

Studies show that protein both increases your metabolic rate and helps curb your appetite (3Trusted Source).

Because protein requires energy to metabolize, a high-protein diet can increase calories burned by 80–100 calories per day (4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source, 6Trusted Source).

Protein is also by far the most filling nutrient. One study showed that people who ate 30% of calories as protein automatically ate 441 fewer calories per day (7Trusted Source).

In other words, you can easily increase calories out and reduce calories in just by adding protein to your diet.

Protein can also help fight cravings, which are the dieter’s worst enemy.

In one study, 25% of daily calories as protein reduced obsessive thoughts about food by 60% and cut the desire for late-night snacking by 50% (8Trusted Source).

If you want to lose weight sustainably and with minimal effort, consider making a permanent increase in your protein intake.

Not only will it help you lose, it will also prevent or at least significantly reduce weight regain, in case you ever decide to abandon your weight loss efforts (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source).

For more details, read this in-depth article about how much protein you should eat.

2. Avoid Sugary Soft Drinks and Fruit Juices

Another relatively easy change you can make is to eliminate liquid sugar calories from your diet.

This includes sodas, fruit juices, chocolate milk and other beverages with added sugar.

These products are likely the most fattening aspect of the modern diet, as your brain doesn’t register liquid calories in the same way as solid calories.

For this reason, drinking sugary soda doesn’t make your brain automatically compensate by having you eat less of other things instead (11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that sugary drinks are strongly linked to an increased risk of obesity, with one study in children showing a 60% increased risk for each daily serving of a sugar-sweetened beverage (13).

Of course, the harmful effects of sugar go beyond weight gain. It can have disastrous effects on metabolic health and raise your risk of many diseases (14Trusted Source).

Though small amounts of natural sugars from foods like fruit are absolutely fine, large amounts from added sugar and sugary drinks can be an absolute disaster.

There is absolutely no physiological need for these beverages and the long-term benefits of avoiding them can be enormous.

3. Drinking More Water Can Aid Weight Loss

One very simple trick to increase weight loss is to drink more water.

This can increase the number of calories you burn for up to 90 minutes (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

Drinking about 8 glasses (equal to 68 ounces or 2 liters) of water per day can make you burn about 96 more calories.

However, the timing of when you drink water may be even more important, as having it before meals can help reduce hunger and make you automatically eat fewer calories (17Trusted Source).

In one 12-week study, drinking 17 ounces (0.5 liters) of water half an hour before meals made people lose 44% more weight (18Trusted Source).

When combined with a healthy diet, drinking more water (especially before meals) does appear to be helpful if you need to lose weight.

Caffeinated beverages such as coffee and green tea are also excellent. Their caffeine content can somewhat boost metabolism, at least in the short term (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).

4. Exercise and Lift Weights

When we eat fewer calories, our bodies compensate by saving energy, making us burn less.

This is why long-term calorie restriction can significantly reduce metabolism.

Not only that, but it can also lead to loss of muscle mass. Muscle is metabolically active, so this can reduce metabolism even further.

The only proven strategy to prevent this effect is to exert your muscles by lifting weights.

This has been repeatedly shown to prevent muscle loss and stops your metabolism from slowing down during long-term calorie restriction (21Trusted Source, 22).

Of course, if you’re trying to lose weight, you don’t want to just lose fat, you also want to make sure that what is beneath also looks good.

If you can’t get to a gym, consider doing bodyweight exercises at home, like push-ups, squats, sit-ups, etc.

Doing some cardio like walking, swimming or jogging can also be important — not necessarily for weight loss but for optimal health and general wellbeing.

Of course, exercise also has a variety of other benefits that go beyond weight loss, such as longevity, lower risk of disease, more energy and feeling better every day (23, 24Trusted Source, 25).

5. Reduce Carbohydrate Intake, Especially Refined Carbs and Sugars

Cutting carbs is a very effective way to lose weight, as it reduces appetite and makes you eat fewer calories automatically (26, 27Trusted Source, 28Trusted Source).

Studies have shown that eating a low-carb diet until fullness can make you lose about 2–3 times more weight than a calorie-restricted, low-fat diet (29, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

Not only that, but low-carb diets also have many other benefits for health, especially for people with type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

But you don’t have to go low-carb. Simply ensure that you eat quality, fiber-rich carbohydrate sources, focusing on whole, single-ingredient foods.

If you stick to real foods, the exact composition of your diet becomes less important.

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