Calculating Your Daily Calorie Needs to Lose Weight

For our example on calculating your daily calorie needs, we are going to calculate calories and set a 10 lb weight loss goal using stats for the average American male:

  • Height: 69.3″ OR 5 feet 9 inches
  • Weight: 195.5 lbs
  • Age: 25 years
  • Goal: Lose 10 lbs

And for the average American female:

  • Height: 63.8” or 5 feet 3.8 inches
  • Weight: 166.2 lbs
  • Age: 25 years
  • Goal: lose 10 lbs

BMR Formula

Harris-Benedict Formula

As a reminder, the BMR is the amount of energy required for a person’s body to function. To calculate this, we use the current weight (195.5lbs), height in inches (69.3”), and age (25). Below are the calculations following the Harris–Benedict formula:

Male: 66 + (6.3 x body weight in pounds) + (12.9 x height in inches) – (6.8 x age in years)

= 66 + (6.3 x 195.5) + (12.9 x 69.3) – (6.8 x 25)

= 66 + 1,231.65 + 893.97 – 170

= 2,021.62 Calories Needed

Female: 655 + (4.3 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years)

= 655 + (4.3 x 166.2) + (4.7 x 63.8) – (4.7 x 25)

= 655 + 714.66 + 299.86 – 117.5

= 1552.02 Calories Needed

Mifflin St. Jeor Formula

Male: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) + 5

= (10 x 88.7 kg) + (6.25 x 176) – (5 x 25) + 5

= 887 + 1100 – 125 + 5

= 1,867 Calories Needed

Female: (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161

= (10 x 75.39) + (6.25 x 162.05) – (5 x 25) – 161

= 753.9 + 1012.81 – 125 – 161

= 1480.71 Calories Needed

Depending on which formula you choose to use – which is likely best determined by consulting with your doctor – the man would need to ingest between 1867 and 2021 calories per day, whereas the woman would need to ingest between 1480 and 1552 calories per day.

Physical Activity

For this example, we will keep it simple and focus on two main activities a person may complete on a given day: walking and exercising.

Walking: Based on a pedometer study completed in 2003, the average American walks 5,117 steps in a day, which is equal to 30 to 40 minutes of walking.

30 Minutes of walking = 228 Calories Burned for a 25-year-old male who weighs 195.5 pounds and is walking 4 miles per hour. 

For a 25-year-old female who weighs 166.2 pounds and is walking at the same speed, she will burn 194 calories per hour.

Exercising: The general average amount of calories burned for exercises, such as fast walking, aerobics, fast biking, and running, in an hour is 419.

1 Hour of general exercise = 419 Calories Burned Based on these two activities, the total number of calories required is:

Male: 228 + 419 = 647 Calories Needed

Female: 194 + 419 = 613 Calories Needed

Thermic Effect of Food

As a reminder, the thermic effect of food is the amount of energy that the body utilizes in order to digest the food that you consumed. To calculate this, we use the total number of calories consumed within a day multiplied by 10 percent. 

For our sample, we use the same calories from the Harris-Benedict BMR calculation, 2,021.62 for the man or 1,552.02 for the woman, or the Mifflin St. Jeor calculation, 1,867 for the man or 1,480.71 for the woman.


2,022.62 x .10 = 202.26 Calories Needed

Or 1,867 x .10 = 1.87 Calories Needed


1,552.02 x .10 = 155.20 Calories Needed

Or 1,480.71 x .10 = 148.07 Calories Needed

Total Calories Required

Based on the three completed calculations, the total number of calories per day required in our example is BMR + Physical Activity + Thermic Effect of Food 


2,021.62 + 647 + 202.16 = 2,747.78 Calories Needed

Or 1,867 + 647 + 187 = 2,701 Calories Needed


1,552.02 + 613 + 155.20 = 2,320.22 Calories Needed

Or 1,480.71 + 613 + 148.07 = 2,241.78

As you can see, after you consider the various calculations to be made, the numbers end up being quite close, regardless of the formula used. So the man would need to ingest somewhere around 2,700 to 2,750 calories per day in order to maintain his weight, whereas the woman would need to take in between 2,240 and 2,320 calories per day in order to maintain her weight.

Calorie Guideline to Lose Weight

For our example, the goal is to lose 10 lbs of body weight. As mentioned earlier, to achieve a 1lb weight loss, an additional 3,500 calories need to be burned in a week by reducing your portions, increasing your physical activity, or both; this is the only way to naturally change a pound of fat into energy and lose weight.

A simple guideline to follow is to reduce your calorie intake by at least 500 and no more than 1000 calories below your total daily required calories. Reducing your daily calorie intake by 500 each day for a week equates to a 1 lb loss in body weight per week. Therefore, to lose 10 lbs, calories will need to be reduced by 500 each day for 10 weeks.

Always keep in mind that even if you have done all of the proper calculations and are determining your required caloric intake to lose weight, your body does require a minimum amount of calories to carry out its basic functions. This is different from the amount of calories required to maintain your weight; this minimum amount is what your body absolutely cannot do without if it is to keep up with the necessary functions.

For women, that minimum amount is 1,200 calories; for men, it is 1,500 calories. So if, as a woman, your daily caloric intake would fall below 1,200 calories, if you were aiming to lose 1 lb per week, you should absolutely consult with your doctor before deciding to start a diet where you will be taking in less than that basic minimum amount.

If you do not make sure to eat the basic minimum requirement, your body will go into starvation mode, where it starts to break down your stored body fat for energy. Once it runs out of stored body fat, other body tissues will be broken down, and your bodily functions will start to break down.

If your body does not get the calories that it needs for its basic functions, you will start to experience nausea, fatigue, dizziness, and malnutrition. Diets of lower than 800 calories per day have been associated with the development of gallstones. 

In addition, when your body starts to break down bodily tissues for energy, which will include lean muscle mass, it will defeat the purpose of starting this reduced-calorie diet in the first place. The disadvantages of reducing your caloric intake beyond the minimum requirement are far, far greater than the advantages.

Final Reminders

To lose weight as quickly as possible, each meal should be limited to between 300 and 600 calories. Carbohydrate intake should fall within 100 to 150 grams each day. 

To increase and speed up weight loss, carbohydrates can be limited to the 50- to 100-gram range reach day, or to really rev up your metabolic rate, go with 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day. Those living an active lifestyle (more than 30 minutes of exercise a day) will need to eat about 0.5 to 0.8 grams of protein for each pound of body weight.

Note: If you require a little extra help to shed pounds, you might consider trying natural supplements that support weight loss.

Resurge is one of the most popular weight loss supplements that promise to help you shed pounds and sleep better. Because studies have shown that sleep deprivation is associated with deficiencies of growth hormone and elevated levels of cortisol, both of which contribute to obesity.

While other supplements promote nutritional factors, meal replacement forms, appetite suppression, or similar effects, Resurge boosts your body’s metabolism by increasing your core temperature. However, before making any purchases, you might want to read some Resurge reviews.

Besides, it should be noted that pills or supplements only work when combined with a healthy weight-loss diet and regular exercise. Supplements are ineffective on their own and are hardly a solution to obesity. 

In any case, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before you start taking a supplement, especially if you are taking medications, pregnant or have any health concerns.

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