Weight loss calorie calculator
The calculator below will provide you with a fairly accurate estimate of the number of calories you should be consuming in order to lose weight.
This calculator will never show a number below 1000 calories per day. Please speak to a qualified health professional before attempting to eat less than that.
The calculator is based on the Mifflin-St Jeor equation, an algorithm that is currently thought to be one of the most accurate for calculating calorie requirements, according to studies such as this and this. The formula is as follows:
- Males: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) + 5
- Females: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) – 161
where w = weight in kg, h = height in cm and a = age in years.
As you can see, gender, age, height and weight all influence calorie intake. Much of this has to do with body size and body composition. Men in general tend to have larger and more muscular bodies than women, so need to consume a few extra calories. Additionally, as you get older your metabolism naturally slows down, so you require fewer calories.
The Mifflin-St Jeor equation provides an indication of the average number of calories an individual would burn whilst at rest. Of course, most people aren’t resting the entire day, so their activity levels need to be factored in as well. This is done by multiplying the calories required at rest by a number between 1.2 and 1.9. The former would be for someone who leads a very inactive lifestyle whereas the latter would be for someone who is extremely active. This new result tells you how many calories are needed for weight maintenance.
In order to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. When you do so, your body is forced to make use of its fat stores as a source of energy; as a result, you end up burning fat and losing weight. The calculator above takes a very simplistic approach to calculate the number of calories needed for weight loss. It simply multiplies the calories needed for weight maintenance by 0.8 (ordinary pace) or 0.6 (fast pace).
The calculator does not provide a number less than 1000 calories. This is because consuming too few calories can actually slow down weight loss efforts by affecting one’s metabolism. If you wish to consume fewer than 1000 calories over long periods of time, you should speak to a qualified medical professional so that he or she can provide assistance along the way.
The speed at which you lose weight is influenced by many factors, but by adhering to the calorie recommendations showed using the calculator above, you can expect to lose between 1 and 2 pounds per week.
What foods have calories?
All foods have calories. This is because they contain one or more of the three macro-nutrients: protein, carbohydrate and fat. The quantity of each macro-nutrient in various foods does vary significantly. For example, a medium sized apple (182 g) has 0.5 g of protein, 25 g of carbs and 0.3 g of fat; an average size avocado (200 g) has 4 g of protein, 17 g of carbs and 29.5 g of fat.
Fat provides you with 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbs provide you with 4. Because of this, the apple has 94 calories and the avocado has 322.
It is also important to note that water has 0 calories, so foods that contain large quantities of it (like most vegetables and fruits) tend to contain far fewer calories than low-water foods. This can clearly be seen if you take a look at the nutritional profile of watercress (which is made up of 95% water) – it only has 4 calories per cup!
Because fat contains more calories than protein or carbs, a natural inclination would be to eliminate all fat rich foods from the diet. However, whilst reducing fat intake to fit within a certain caloric intake may be a good idea, it should not be avoided entirely. This is because fat rich foods such as avocados, oily fish, nuts and seeds are very nutritious and can actually come in handy when trying to lose weight, if eaten in moderation.
Instead of just cutting out fat, follow the tips mentioned in the next section to easily reduce your calorie intake.
How to naturally reduce calorie intake
Eating more of certain foods and less of others can have a dramatic effect on your overall calorie consumption, and therefore, your weight loss efforts.
Using the calculator above you may have calculated that you need to eat 1700 calories per day. However if you eat 1700 calories worth of junk food, chances are you will be left feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Instead, you want to eat nutritious and filling food.
Eat enough protein
Out of the three macro-nutrients, protein is arguably the most beneficial for weight loss. This is because it helps on both ends of the calories in – calories out equation: numerous studies have shown that protein consumption can boost metabolism whilst reducing hunger.
For example in this study, participants increased protein intake from 15% to 30% of total calories. Doing so resulted in 400+ fewer calories being consumed, which is a significant amount. Another study involving obese men showed that those who followed a high protein diet had less of a late night desire to snack and fewer obsessive thoughts about food.
It is well-known that not all calories are created equal. For example, a can of cola and two large boiled eggs (which are high in protein) have approximately the same number of calories. However, eating the eggs will leave you feeling much more satisfied than the cola will.
Studies seem to suggest that a protein intake of 30% of total calories is ideal, so this is a number you may want to aim for. There are plenty of protein rich foods you can eat, including legumes, fish, unprocessed meat, nuts, seeds and grains.
Drink fewer sugary beverages, replacing them with water
One way that calories sneak into your body is via the beverages that you drink. Sugar sweetened beverages such as soft drinks and fruit juices tend to be high in calories, but as mentioned in the previous section, don’t have as large of an effect on your appetite as solid foods do.
When you eat solid food, the act of chewing and the bulk that the food adds to your stomach sends signals to your brain, telling it that you should feel less hungry. Unfortunately this doesn’t happen as efficiently when you consume liquid calories.
Studies have found that sugar consumption has been strongly linked with weight gain, and much of the sugar in these beverages is in the form of fructose, which when consumed in excessive amounts overburdens the liver and leads to fat retention.
For this reason, it is a good idea to minimise your consumption of sugary beverages. In place of them, drink water. Because it has 0 calories, you can drink larger quantities of it, without having to worry about going overboard on calories. In fact, studies have shown that having a glass or two of water before a meal can help reduce the amount of food that you eat.
Eat real food
By this we mean eating foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. These are the ones that are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and plenty of other beneficial compounds. Unprocessed foods also tend to contain large quantities of fiber, which like protein, can help to satisfy the appetite. The foods shown here are a good representation of the kinds that you should be eating.
When trying to lose weight, vegetables should be a large part of your diet. They are bursting with nutrition, are low in calories and are very affordable, making them the most weight loss friendly foods out there. As a general rule of thumb, half of your plate at each meal should consist of a variety of vegetables. Luckily, there is no shortage of vegetables to choose from.
The reason why vegetables are key to weight loss is because you can eat so much of them. For example, an average cheese burger has 300 calories, but a cup of broccoli only has 31 calories. This means you would have to eat 10 cups of broccoli to make up for the calories in the burger. Guess which of the two would take up more space in your stomach?
The foods that you want to minimise consumption of or avoid entirely are those that have been highly processed. Examples include things like cake, candy, doughnuts and potato chips. These foods contain large quantities of unhealthy fat and added sugar, but provide very little nutritional value, making them a source of empty calories.