How many calories should you eat to lose weight?
We have all been engaged in counting calories during our lives. We do this because we want to lose weight or stay healthy.
Counting calories and how many calories per day you can eat exactly one day keeps us busy.
But how does that work exactly? In this article, I explain everything about what calories are, how you can easily get fewer calories and alternatives for calorie counting.
Eating healthy is important
Did you know that women spend 2.5 hours per week on average thinking about their diet? And with men, that is still 2 hours per week.
Healthy eating is currently at the center of attention and that makes sense.
By paying attention to healthy eating you prevent illness and you can actually age years, with a greater chance of staying fit and energetic.
What is a calorie?
The best-known method to lose weight or stay on a good weight is to count calories.
But what are calories?
A calorie is an energy unit. Our bodies need the energy to move and keep all physical processes going.
This energy is in our diet. The energy that is released can be measured. To determine how much energy is released by eating a certain product, the term calorie is used.
Now, these days can use a smartwatch to help you to keep track of your calories.
You can compare it with, for example, electricity. There the energy released is called kWh (kilowatt hour).
Other terms that you sometimes encounter are kilocalories. There are 1000 calories in a kilocalorie. The term kilojoule is also used, this is a more modern indication. A kilocalorie is the same as 4.18 kilojoules.
Calories and weight loss
Our body uses energy all day long. But it varies per moment how much energy that is. Walking consumes more energy than sitting still and running up the stairs costs more energy than walking. But even if you do nothing, your muscles and organs consume energy. That is called: the burning at rest.
When you gain weight, you get too much energy.
Excess energy is stored by your body as fat. Your body is set up so that if it receives an abundance of food (energy), it will preserve it as a future reserve storage. For if there were any low food times.
If you want to lose weight, you will have to make sure that your body burns that fat. This is possible if you give the body less energy than it needs. But how many calories per day can you lose weight?
How many calories do you need per day?
How many calories per day do you need to lose weight or to stay on weight? A standard guideline can be given, but it is important to realize that everyone is different.
Everybody is different and there are many factors that play a role in determining the energy requirement.
The following factors play a role in determining the energy requirement:
- Sex (male / female)
- How much you move
On average, a man needs 2500 kilocalories and a woman 2000 kilocalories.
How many calories per day for weight loss?
To lose weight you can reduce calorie intake. Women are often advised to consume around 1500-1700 kilocalories and for men that would be 1800-2000. Much less food is only counterproductive.
If, for example, you live on a diet of 1300 kilocalories, you will quickly lose weight, but as soon as you start eating normally, your body immediately stores all that extra nutrition as fat. You will notice that you will gain weight again soon.
In addition, the so-called crash diet can also have negative effects on your health. You get a shortage of nutrients and vitamins.
People often think that they automatically eat healthy food by counting calories, but that is of course not the case. The number of calories has nothing to do with how healthy a product is. You also can not see if you get enough nutrients. Finally, counting calories is partly wet-finger work. It is always difficult to say that it is true what you counted at the end of the day.
Lose weight due to a low-carbohydrate diet
If you want to lose weight you can reduce the number of calories. But that is certainly not the only way. You can also eat fewer carbohydrates.
Different types of fuel
The body can get its fuel from different types of food. In Western countries, the emphasis is mainly on eating carbohydrates. Many nutritionists claim that this is the most efficient and healthy diet to provide your body with energy.
There are three groups of food that the body can use as a fuel:
Carbohydrates are dietary sugars. Your body can easily use it as a source of energy.
Proteins are chains of amino acids and are used by the body as building blocks for muscles and nerves. Your body’s cells consist of proteins, so in order for them to function properly, you need these proteins. But proteins are also a good source of energy.
Fats can also be used as fuel.
In general, your diet consists largely of carbohydrates. These are simple carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta and rice. Or they are complex carbohydrates (wholemeal bread and pasta, brown rice, vegetables and nuts).
The simple carbohydrates give energy quickly, but they cause a peak in blood sugar levels and the sugars are also quickly converted into fat.
Complex carbohydrates are generally better for the body. They release their energy more slowly and do not cause a peak in blood sugar levels.
They make you feel fuller for longer. It is the simple carbohydrates that can cause excess weight and increase the risk of diabetes type 2.
A diet based on less (simple) carbohydrates can help to lose weight and reduce the risk of overweight and diabetes. You will then have to choose another source of energy, and that is proteins and fats.
Proteins are the building blocks of your body. Normally they take up about 15% within a diet. If you eat less carbohydrate, you can increase your intake to 20% to 35%. The advantage of eating more protein is that they reduce appetite. They provide a saturated feeling.
Proteins increase your metabolism. This means that they ensure that your metabolism works faster and more efficiently and that you burn more fat. This causes the burning of about 100 extra calories. If you want to lose weight that is ideal. Your blood sugar level is not affected by proteins, so you will notice that you do not have binge eating or a nice appetite anymore.
If you are going to eat more products with proteins, it is important to pay attention that you get good proteins.
Where are proteins in? A few examples:
- Meat, poultry and fish: tartar, minced meat, steak, salmon, trout, eggs and dairy.
- Quinoa, brown rice, oatmeal
- Nuts and seeds (walnuts, cashews, chia seeds)
- Vegetable: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach and beans
Yet it is not enough to only pay attention to the amount of protein you eat. There is a difference in the quality of the proteins. To understand that, you need to know that proteins are made up of chains of amino acids. These are shorter or longer chains, which can be combined into complex structures. These are the proteins.
The body can make some amino acids itself, but not all of them. We will have to extract these from our diet and that is called the essential amino acids. You can find it mainly in animal products (meat, fish, eggs and dairy). If you do eat meat, you can assume that you get the essential amino acids.
If you are a vegetarian, you will need to pay close attention to finding a source of essential amino acids that you can eat. You will mainly have to eat seeds, beans and legumes, because these are the richest vegetable sources of protein.
Healthy fats are important for the body. Fats have gotten a pretty bad name in recent years, because they would have negative consequences for the body. Yet it is necessary to supply your body with fats and then mainly healthy fats, such as omega-3 and 6. Fats help stabilize blood sugar levels, keep your blood vessels smooth and healthy and make you feel fuller for longer.
Get your healthy fats out of olive oil, coconut oil, avocado and fish (for example salmon). Products such as flax seeds, nuts and eggs also contain healthy fats.
By counting the number of calories you eat, you can gain insight into how much energy you get inside. According to the guidelines, this is 2500 kilocalories for a man and 2000 for a woman. If you start eating low on carbohydrates, it is better to look at the carbohydrates per day. You can use the following guidelines:
- To lose weight quickly: 50 – 70 grams of carbohydrates per day
- To lose weight: 70 – 100 grams of carbohydrates per day
- To lose weight slowly: 100 – 150 grams of carbohydrates per day
These guidelines give you some guidance, but make sure you do not look at it blindly. Below is an example of what you could eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Lose weight by attuning to your hunger feelings
That we eat too much is partly because we eat too many simple carbohydrates, but also because we have forgotten to listen to our bodies. If we learn to better attune ourselves to this, we can lose weight much more easily. Our body shows very clearly what it needs. A good way to lose weight is to learn to listen to our hunger feeling.
Continuously appetite through too many simple carbohydrates
Why have we forgotten to tune in to the signals from our body? That has everything to do with what we eat. There are too many simple carbohydrates in our diet and these disturb our sense of hunger. That is because carbohydrates are converted into glucose. We do get energy here, but it also increases our blood sugar levels.
In order to cancel this increase again, insulin is produced. As a result, your body ensures that the blood sugar level drops again, but at the same time you also feel your energy level drop. And that makes you feel hungry, while you are actually not hungry.
Eat consciously and without distractions
A second reason we eat too much is that we do not give our bodies time to give the signal “full”. Often we eat so fast and we are distracted during eating, that we do not notice if we are full enough. As a result, we often eat longer than necessary.
If you switch to a low-carbohydrate diet, you can again learn to tune in to the hunger. By eating more protein and fat, you will experience fewer fluctuations in your blood sugar levels and your hunger will be reliably reliable again.
Proteins also have a positive influence on your appetite:
- They ensure that less ghrelin (the hunger hormone) is produced. And therefore you will start eating less quickly.
- In a protein-rich diet, the appetite-suppressing hormone leptin is produced more.
- Proteins digest more slowly so that you remain saturated longer.
So you are a full longer amount of time and experience less hunger when you eat more proteins and fewer carbohydrates. A low-carbohydrate diet helps you stay tuned to the signals that your body will give. It makes it easier for you to eat healthy amounts.
If you decide to switch to a low-carbohydrate diet, you can choose to keep track of the carbohydrates you are still eating. If you also pay attention to the hunger signals of your body, you will notice that it is relatively easy to lose weight.
The low-carbohydrate diet is also very suitable to stay on weight. You can continue to eat low in carbohydrate because you get all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and fibers that your body needs. To maintain a healthy weight, you can increase the number of carbohydrates or eat more proteins and fats.
Starting with a low-carbohydrate diet
Your body will use a different source of energy if you start eating protein and fats instead of carbohydrates. That will require some adjustment of your body, and you can see that. The first few days you can feel that you have less energy and that you are more tired. It is also possible that you get a headache. If you are very troubled by this, you can reduce these symptoms by eating a little more carbohydrate. But be aware that this discomfort will be gone within a few days.
Within a week (in some cases two weeks) your body is used to using proteins as a source of energy. It hardly needs any carbohydrates. Now you are going to feel as fit and different as ever, actually even better. Because you have no more dips due to the fluctuations in your blood sugar level, you no longer have to eat. And for the first few weeks, you can lose a lot of weight. Eventually, it will certainly have been worthwhile to switch to a low-carbohydrate diet.
If you want to lose weight, you can focus on counting calories. But that is certainly not the only or even the best way to get rid of pounds. It is much better to tackle your diet: delete simple carbohydrates from your diet and switch to proteins and fats as a source of energy.
There are many other ways to lose weight/fat check my article about intermittent fasting!
The Big Book of Low-Carb Recipes: 365 Fast and Fabulous recipes, Buy it now!
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