I would like to write an article to answer the question on how many calories should i eat a day to lose weight?
This is a very common question, which is not surprising because modern health authorities are constantly saying that people eat too many calories per day and should cut back.
I have a few problems with this approach, mainly because I don’t believe that calorie counting is necessary. Obesity has increased despite the fact that almost everybody owns a calculator and can do math.
It is true that calories matter, but in my opinion this is something regular people should not worry about.
How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight
Let’s for a moment assume that the “calories in, calories out” theory holds and ignore the fact that you might be able to lose weight without ever worrying about calories by simply giving up junk food.
What this theory states is that people are overweight because on an average day, they eat more than they burn. A few extra calories are turned into body fat every day, leading to obesity in the long run.
First, let’s figure out how many calories you burn on an average day. This number is only an estimate.
Now, you need to figure out how much weight to lose. You do that by subtracting your goal weight from your current weight.
Current Weight – Goal weight = Number of pounds/kilograms to lose.
A pound of body fat is 3500 calories, while a kilogram of body fat is 7700 calories.
If using pounds: take the number of pounds you need to lose and multiply by 3500.
If using kilograms: take the number of kilograms and multiply by 7700.
This is the calorie deficit you need to create, over time, according to the “calories in, calories out” theory.
An example: 30 pounds to lose * 3500 = 105.000 calories.
Now, I’m gonna assume that you want to lose a pound per week (0.45kg), which is generally recommended. This means that for every pound you need to lose, you will need a daily calorie deficit of 500.
So, to conclude:
Take the number from the calculator above (Your average daily calorie need) and subtract that by 500 (f.x. 2500-500 = 2000). This is the number of calories you should eat a day to lose weight.
The problems with the calories in, calories out theory
If you were to lose 30 pounds with this method and aiming for a 500 calorie deficit a day, then you would have to weigh every single piece of food you eat and calculate the calories in it, every day for 7 months.
Let’s assume that you have an insanely strong willpower and are willing to let yourself go through many months of feeling hungry and energy deprived. Do you think you’ll be good to go after that?
You are going to have to continue doing this, because otherwise you are going to gain that weight back.
Plus there are many other problems with calorie counting:
- Your metabolic rate depends on age, sex, activity level, hormones, height, body fat levels, genetics and many more factors.
- The metabolic rate changes over time and it will drop during long periods of calorie restriction.
- The brain regulates body fat levels, and it will increase your hunger and decrease your activity levels to try and resist any changes.
- Having to weigh every food you eat will be a massive obligation in your life. You won’t be able to eat out at restaurants or other peoples houses, and it’s just downright inconvenient and unsustainable.
Obviously, this is a recipe for disaster. We can not expect people to weigh and count every single piece of food they eat for the rest of their lives, which is really what is necessary to lose weight this way.
What about the statistics?
Let’s take a look at what the statistics say about this.
In the past few decades, obesity rates have skyrocketed.
Many people say that it is because people are exercising less and eating more. But that’s just not true.
In the past few decades, while obesity rates have increased, calorie consumption still remains within recommended levels and leisure-time physical activity has increased. Also, adult women are those who eat the least amount of calories but yet they are the most overweight, at least in the U.S (1).
Clearly, the calories in vs calories out theory doesn’t hold.
I also happen to believe that the human race is something more than just a big group of gluttons who are unable to control themselves.
The gatekeeper to your fat cells – Insulin
I’m going to discuss a particular hormone in your body that you have most likely heard of before.
It’s called Insulin.
Insulin is mostly known for regulating blood sugar levels, and a lack of it makes people become diabetics.
What insulin also does, is to function as a gatekeeper to your fat cells.
When insulin levels are elevated, the body’s fat cells are told to store fat and to make sure that whatever amount of fat already in them doesn’t get out.
If insulin levels are high despite the fact that you are eating less calories than you burn, then your body fat will have a real hard time getting out of your fat cells.
This will make your body feel energy deprived and your brain will respond.
The result: hunger.
Then what do you suggest as an alternative?
What I suggest, is choosing foods that do not cause a large amount of insulin release.
The macronutrient that releases the greatest amount of insulin is carbohydrate. A drop in carbohydrate intake reduces insulin levels.
When this happens, weight loss often happens automatically and without feelings of hunger. The science proves it (2).
Appetite is reduced and the body starts using its own body fat for energy.
Weight loss is not about calories, it is about eating the types of foods that encourage weight loss.
So, the question should not be how many calories should I eat a day to lose weight.
P.S. If you liked this article, then you’re going to LOVE my free online weight loss course.
The right question would be: how many carbs per day to lose weight naturally?