How much do I need to eat to lose weight?
With food being so plentiful and a lot of it being processed and filled with hidden calories, it’s understandable why so many of us tend to put on excess weight
Because many of us are so disconnected from our food sources (when’s the last time YOU hand picked a vegetable from a garden or slaughtered the animal that’s on your plate?)
It can be very confusing to figure out what our food is actually made of.
Combine these two things together and it makes sense why figuring out the RIGHT amount of food to eat to lose weight is so darn difficult!
Worry not my friend. In today’s article, I’m going to share with you a simple process to figure out how much you need to eat to lose weight. Along with THE MOST CRITICAL THING YOU NEED TO DO TO ENSURE SUCCESS.
Let’s get into it…
The first part involves some simple math! So grab your calculator and scale.
Step 1: Get your weight in pounds (lbs). If your scale reads in kilograms (kg), just multiply your weight in kg by 2.2 to convert it into lbs.
Step 2: Multiply your weight in lbs by “14”. This new number will give you an estimate of your Maintenance Calories (the amount of calories you need to eat each day to maintain your weight).
Step 3: To lose about 1lbs/week (which would be the safest fat loss rate for most of you), simply subtract “500” from the number you got in Step 2.
Congratulations!!! You’ve just figured out how many calories you should aim to eat every day to lose weight.
But hold on, we’re not done yet. You already know that where you spend those calories matters. So next we’ll figure out your Macronutrient Targets (how many grams of Protein, Carbs, and Fats to eat).
Step 4: Starting with Protein, as it's the most important of the 3 Macronutrients.
Take your weight in lbs (from Step 1) and multiply it by “0.8”. This tells you how many grams of Protein to eat each day.
Then multiply your grams of Protein by “4”. This tells you how many of your calories from Step 3 should be spent on Protein.
Step 5: Moving on to Fats. Multiply your weight in lbs from Step 1 by “0.45”. This tells you how many grams of Fat to eat each day.
Then multiply your grams of Fat by “9”. This tells you how many of your calories from Step 3 should be spent on Fats.
Step 6: The last Macronutrient… the one we all love… Carbs! Take your calories from Step 3 and subtract both your Protein Calories (end of Step 4) and Fat Calories (end of Step 5) from it. This tells you how many of your calories from Step 3 should be spent on Carbs.
Now to figure out how many grams that is per day. We’ll do the reverse of what we did with Proteins and Fats. We will divide your Carb Calories by “4”. That number is how many grams of Carbs to eat each day.
And voila. Now you know how many Calories to eat and what your Macronutrient breakdown should be.
Here’s an example of the above process in action: Let’s say we have someone who weighs 200lbs (about 91kg) that wants to lose weight in a healthy manner.
|Step 2 Maintenance Calories:||(weight in lbs) x 14
(200 x 14)
= 2800 calories/day to stay at 200lbs
|Step 3 Calories to lose 1lbs/week:||(Maintenance Calories) - 500 calories
(2800 calories/day) - 500 calories
= 2300 calories/day to lose 1lbs/week
|Step 4a Protein Grams:||(weight in lbs) x 0.8
(200lbs) x 0.8
= 160 g of Protein/day
|Step 4b Protein Calories:||(grams of Protein/day) x 4
(160 g of Protein/day) x 4
= 640 calories/day from Protein
|Step 5a Fat Grams:||(weight in lbs) x 0.45
(200lbs) x 0.45
= 90 g of Fats/day
|Step 5b Fat Calories:||(grams of Fat/day) x 9
(90 g of Fat/day) x 9
= 810 calories/day from Fats
|Step 6a Carb Calories:||(calories/day to lose 1lbs/week) - (calories/day from Protein) - (calories/day from Fats)
2300 calories/day to lose 1lbs/week - 640 calories/day from Protein - 810 calories/day from Fats
= 850 calories/day from Carbs
|Step 6b Carb Grams:||(calories/day from Carbs) / 4
(850 calories/day from Carbs) / 4
= 213 g of Carbs/day
For this 200lbs person to lose 1lbs per week in a healthy way, they would need to eat: 2300 calories/day divided up into 160 g of Protein/day, 213 g of Carbs/day, 90 g of Fats/day
But hold on…
Remember at the beginning I told you that there is a CRITICAL THING YOU NEED TO DO TO ENSURE SUCCESS?
Let’s get to that critical thing with Step 7: You MUST Measure & Track CONSISTENTLY!!!
Without this, the above work is useless. Keep in mind the numbers above for your
- Maintenance Calories
- Calories to lose weight
- Macronutrient breakdown
- Are an ESTIMATE.
Even the best calorie calculators and tools that professionals like my team and I use with our Clients are STILL AN ESTIMATE (albeit a very good estimate).The tools that pros like myself use take into account your: age, sex, height, daily activity level, and exercise level.
This estimate that we’ve come to here together is a STARTING POINT.
Measuring with a Kitchen Scale
Or the Hand Portion Method (we teach this to our clients for when they are on the go or traveling and don’t have access to other measurement tools).
Will tell you how much you are eating. How many calories are in your food. What their Macronutrient breakdown is.
Combine this with checking your weight at least 2x/week and Tracking all of this data in:
- An app like MyFitnessPal, Cronometer, or similar
- A journal
This will reveal to you THE TRUTH of your eating habits and the effects they have on your weight and health.
I know what you’re thinking: “But Shan! Knowing what I’m eating makes me feel bad. I don’t wanna know how bad my eating habits are 😭”
My answer to that is: “Good. It should make you uncomfortable and feel bad to know how poorly you’ve been treating your body. Sit with those uncomfortable emotions. Feel those feelings that you don’t want to feel. Let them wash over you.
They are telling you something very important. LISTEN TO THOSE EMOTIONS. Then, do the self-work to get to the root of them”.
By the way, if you can’t bear the idea of facing your eating habits and the emotions they bring up, then that’s a sign that you need to see a Mental Health Professional. If this is the case, please don’t delay seeking help.
Now, getting back to Step 7 and your other excuses for not Measuring & Tracking…
It's difficult and time-consuming: Only at first. Once you practice this consistently for a few weeks, it will become second nature.
Do I need to do this for every meal, every day?: Yes, consistency is key. If you truly want to get rid of that stubborn weight, then you must commit to making this a regular practice. Every meal, every day. It will become easier.
BTW, this doesn’t mean forever. Once you’re rolling and you’ve either built the other habits necessary to lose the weight and keep it off, you can do this less frequently. But for now commit to it for 1 full year.
Step 8: Analyze the data. If you followed Steps 1-7 correctly for a couple of weeks, you should now have some good data. We’re going to use Outcome-Based Decision Making to figure out what to do next.
If you’re losing about 1lbs/week consistently: Great job!!! Keep doing what you’re doing.
If you’re losing about 2lbs/week or more consistently: You’re still doing good, but you need to slow down a little bit. Add back 100-200 calories (this could be in the form of more Carbs or Fat) until you’re losing around 1lbs/week.
If you’re maintaining your weight or gaining more weight: This means you are NOT in a Calorie Deficit. You’re probably doing one of two things:
- You’re probably not measuring and tracking accurately and consistently. Do better at this part. (This is the most likely culprit).
- If you are measuring and tracking accurately and consistently, then we probably overestimated your Maintenance Calories.
Hey, this can happen with any measurement tool, formula or method. That's why Step 7 is so critical. Without it we won’t know why you are not losing weight.
So, if it is the latter and you are measuring and tracking accurately and consistently, then reduce your daily calorie target by “250”. BUT, do not take out those “250” calories from Protein. Take them out from Carbs or Fats.
Try that for a week and see if the scale starts to budge downward. If not, reduce by another “250” calories. Don’t be hasty with this and immediately decrease by “500” calories or more daily. We won’t go into the reasons why here, just trust me. It’s in your best interests to only decrease by the minimum amount needed to see the scale move down by about 1lbs/week.
That’s it really. Pretty simple right?
If you need professional help with improving your eating habits and reaching a healthy weight, send me a message now! My team and I will get you started and help you every step of the way.