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Counting calories to lose weight

Updated on December 8, 2014

There is a rule of thumb for weight loss. In order to lose weight effectively, a person should pay attention to this simple guideline: the amount of calories taken in must be lower than the calories burned up with daily physical activity. However, though this rule is the foundation of existing dieting programs, there are extraneous circumstances and individual factors that determine the outcomes.

For dieters, one of the most important questions to answer is this: “How many calories do I need to eat so that I lose weight and keep of off as well?” The answer is rather complicated because there are numerous factors at play.


Factors that influence weight loss

There are a number of factors to be considered when determining the specific daily caloric requirements of an individual. Some of these factors are age, gender, height, and level of physical activity, which greatly influence whether a person achieves his or her weight loss objectives.

The general recommended calorie intake per day varies depending on a person’s gender. Males should limit their intake to no more than 1600-1800 calories, while the figure for females is 1200 calories. Nevertheless, there are no absolute guarantees that a person will lose weight if this guideline is strictly followed. The type of food that is recommended in the dietary program influences the amount of calories burned during physical activity. A person whose diet consists mainly of proteins will burn more calories given the same level and type of exercise since the body uses up more energy in metabolizing proteins. The type of exercise is another factor. If the person is doing interval training, the amount of calories burned is higher than in aerobic training. Another factor is the person’s metabolic rate. All the methods of calculating caloric requirements are estimates at best. The actual outcome of a dietary program is mostly dependent on the individual’s metabolism

Calorie calculators

There are numerous calorie calculators, which may be used to determine the ideal daily intake of calories, or how much a person needs to eat through the course of day. It depends on individual preference which method to employ. Some are more individualistic in approach and considers the target weight in the calculation. Generally, a calorie calculator can be a very handy tool in weight management. It may be used to keep track of both the calories required on a daily basis as well as the amount of weight loss incurred for a particular length of time.

Nowadays, there are services on the Web that offers individualized calorie calculators that come with meal plans and other dieting-related services. Dieters can take advantage of these offers. But, if they prefer to make their own calculations, they only need to keep a food diary. With this tool, the dieter can take into account even the extra calories that people often forget, which amount to a significant addition to the caloric intake and contribute to weight gain. Some of the sources of extra calories are a serving of nuts during an office meeting, milk and sugar in the morning coffee, and a chocolate bar while driving home in traffic. All these “extras” must be taken into account.

General guidelines

Here are some guidelines that could prove helpful to dieters who are keen on shedding off excess weight at the soonest possible time.

People who want to lose weight must plan their daily meals and snacks. For women, each meal must contain as much as 300 calories per meal for a dietary program that consists of three meals a day. In terms of snacks, the total count must not exceed 300 calories a day. In the meantime, males must limit their meals to 450 calories per meal, plus a total of 450 snacks taken throughout the day.

Certain people are so motivated to lose weight that they resort to eating less than the recommended calorie count per meal. However, this is not advisable. Health and nutrition experts caution against dieters starving themselves in the hopes of losing more weight or getting rid of excess fat faster. Fast-tracking weight loss can be counter-productive. If the body does not get the amount of food that it needs, then it will not release fat stores, but instead hold on to them. Instead of faster weight loss, the response will be slower. It is important to remember that the body has daily energy requirements that must be fulfilled.

With regard to physical activity, a dieter must know how many calories ought to be used or burned. For example, a person who weighs more than 100 kilograms can benefit most from an exercise regimen that burns 600-1000 calories per week. Meanwhile, a person who weighs less than 100 kilograms can target 400-800 calories a week.

Lastly, every person who aspires to lose weight and keep the weight for good must do more than just count calories. They should make the choice to eat healthy meals and develop eating habits that promote good nutrition and well-being.


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    • monia saad profile imageAUTHOR

      monia ben saad 

      3 years ago from In my Dream

      thank you for you encouragment and visiting my hub

    • izettl profile image

      Laura Izett 

      3 years ago from The Great Northwest

      This has always helped me in the past. I never struggled with weight but gained some in college and learned how to count calories for the first time. I struggled a bit after my second child too, but now I honestly use my inner gauge of fullness. I basically don't ever want to feel full or stuffed. I don't feel good that way and I believe we should all stop before completely full. Glad to see this info out here- many people will find this helpful.

    • monia saad profile imageAUTHOR

      monia ben saad 

      3 years ago from In my Dream

      thank you for your encouragement

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      3 years ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      Very good information about counting calories. This is how I keep my 'girlish figure.' :)

    • ladyguitarpicker profile image

      stella vadakin 

      3 years ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

      After Christmas and New Years , I needed to read this article. This is a useful and interesting Hub, Stella

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Monia, the planning is where the struggle is; it is so easy to do what's convenient rather than do what is right. Your suggestions here are very helpful. Thanks!

    • Romanian profile image


      3 years ago from Oradea, Romania

      It's much easier to se weight if you count calories.

    • monia saad profile imageAUTHOR

      monia ben saad 

      3 years ago from In my Dream

      thank you for your encouragement and we must be careful about our food

    • TheHoleStory profile image


      3 years ago from Parsons, West Virginia

      I know someone who is counting calories to lose weight. They write everything down to keep track of their daily calorie intake. This is a great informative hub monia saad, and I'm going to pass this hub onto this person. Keep up the great work!

    • monia saad profile imageAUTHOR

      monia ben saad 

      3 years ago from In my Dream

      you are welcome overweight the big problem aaround thee world

    • monia saad profile imageAUTHOR

      monia ben saad 

      3 years ago from In my Dream

      you are welcome we must be careful about our food mus be healthy :)

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Useful and interesting, thank you, Monia. When I was in my 20's I used to count calories. It was hard work, but rewarding. Nowadays I welcome some extra weight as it fills my wrinkles :)))

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      Interesting and useful. I am not overweight, but I have loved ones and friends who struggle with obesity. Thank you for sharing a well written hub...


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