How Many Calories Should You Burn to Lose 2 Pounds a Week?
Even though you might like to drop weight ten times faster than you gained it, for most people in most situations, it’s best to limit weight loss to about two pounds per week. In order to do this, you have to strike the right balance between the number of calories you eat and the number you burn each day.
How Many Calories Are in a Pound of Fat?
One pound of fat = 3,500 calories. That means that you’d have to burn 500 more calories than you ate each day to lose a pound per week. So, to lose two pounds a week, you’d have to create a 1,000 calorie difference between what you ate and what you burned that day.
How Many Calories Do I Burn Each Day?
The number of calories you burn each day is your metabolism. Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body uses to do things like breathe and keep your heart beating. Your total metabolic rate is your BMR plus the calories you use to move around doing regular activities and exercise. Calculating your BMR is the first step in figuring out how many calories you need to eat and burn to lose 2 pounds a week. Use the BMR calculator on the right sidebar of this website to figure out your BMR. All you need to enter is your weight, height age and gender.
BMR + Activity = Your Metabolism
Once you get your BMR from the calculator, you’re ready to calculate your total metabolism. You figure this out by selecting your activity/exercise level from the Harris Benedict chart below:
Harris Benedict Formula
To determine your total daily calorie needs, multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
- If you are sedentary (little or no exercise) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.2
- If you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.375
- If you are moderatetely active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.55
- If you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.725
- If you are extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training) : Calorie-Calculation = BMR x 1.9
If you are a 29 year old female, weighing 150 pounds at 5 feet 3 inches tall (that’s 63 inches), your BMR = 1,460 calories.
If you are sedentary (you work at a desk and do no exercise), then multiply 1460 X 1.2= 1752 = Total Metabolism
That means that in order for you to maintain your current weight, you need to eat 1752 calories a day.
How Many Calories Should I Eat Daily to Lose Two Pounds a Week?
Now take your total metabolism and subtract 1,000 calories. For the woman in the example above, that’s 1752-1000= 752 calories. In theory, that’s how many calories she’d need to eat to lose two pounds a week…but wait! If she only ate 752 calories a day, she’d be starving herself. The clinical definition of starvation is less than 1200 calories/day for a woman or 1600 calories/day for a man. This is true no matter their age, height or weight.
So What Are My Options?
If you do the math with your personal numbers and the results put you under the 1200 (for women) or 1600 (for men) calorie mark, then you still have some options. Still using the woman in the example above, here are her options:
#1. She could simply set a goal of losing only 1 pound per week. Since she needs 1752 to lose a pound per week, then she could eat 1250 calories each day and lose a pound per week (500cals x 7 days= 3500= 1 pound of fat).
#2. She could eat 1752 calories a day and increase her exercise to the tune of 500 calories/day and lose a pound per week.
#3. (BEST OPTION) The healthiest (and least miserable) thing she could do is cut 250 calories from what she needs to maintain her current weight putting her at about 1500 calories a day. Then she could simply increase her physical activity to burn 250 calories a day. The reason that’s the best option is because it’s more gradual and less stressful for the body. It’s also easier to slightly change your eating and exercise habits than to drastically do so. Easier changes mean permanent changes. But there’s still one more question to answer to solve the calories/pounds lost per week riddle…
How Many Calories Are You Currently Eating Each Day?
Even though this lovely 29 year old lady only needs 1752 calories per day to maintain her weight, that doesn’t mean that’s how many she’s eating right now. You need to know where you currently are in your daily calorie intake before you can set any goals and get a good sense of the best way for you to lose your desired two pounds a week.
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