How many calories should you eat to lose weight?

by Cathy Parkes on December 1, 2010 · 98 comments

Cutting back on calories is a great way to lose weight, but cutting back TOO far can be counterproductive. I’ve seen a number of people take their calories down to 1,000 (or lower!), and without a doubt they have regretted their decision in the long run. First of all, when you drop your calories too low, your body responds by slowing down your metabolism. This will cause you to burn fewer calories, which is definitely NOT what we want to happen. Also, when your fuel intake dips below what you need to support the activity of your muscles, bones, and organs, your cells simply can’t function properly. Eating too few calories will zap you of energy and can affect your looks (i.e. dry skin, limp hair).

So, it is important to strike a good balance when determining the number of calories to consume each day. An article in the August issue of SHAPE magazine had a formula that I think works really well:

Step 1 : Multiply your weight goal by 10. That is the minimum number of calories you need per day without any physical activity. So, if your goal weight is 130, you should aim for no less than 1,300 calories each day.

Step 2 : Factor in your daily activity. If you have a very active job (i.e. a nurse, a busy mom), you should add an additional 3 calories per pound of your goal weight. So, if your goal weight is 130 and you are super active each day, you should add on an additional 390 calories to consume. However, if you have a desk job and are at the computer most of the day, stick with the number in Step 1.

Step 3 : Tack on extra for exercise. On the days that you work out, add half the calories you burn to your daily intake. In other words, if you burn 300 calories during your workout, add an additional 150 calories to your daily allotment.

Here are a couple of examples:

EXAMPLE 1 : Debbie is a busy nurse, and her goal weight is 125 pounds. Here is how many calories she should target to lose weight:

  1. 125 * 10 = 1,250 calories.
  2. Due to her active lifestyle, she adds on 3 * 125 = 375.
  3. 1,250 calories + 375 calories = 1,625 calories.
  4. When she works out, she burns approximately 300 calories, so we add half of that (150 calories) on to her total.
  5. So, on days that Debbie does not work out, she should target 1,625 calories. On days that she does workout, she should target 1,775 calories.

EXAMPLE 2 : Tracy has a job that requires her to work at the computer most of the day. Her goal weight is 140 pounds. Here is how many calories she should target to lose weight:

  1. 140 * 10 = 1,400 calories.
  2. We don’t add any additional calories due to the sedentary nature of her work.
  3. When Tracy works out, she burns approximately 250 calories. We add half of that number (125 calories) to her total for the day.
  4. So, on days that Tracy does not work out, she should target 1,400 calories. On days that she does work out, she should target 1525 calories.

Now that you know how many calories to eat each day, learn how to spend that calorie budget wisely! Read Happy Dieter’s Top 10 Favorite Foods to help get you started.

{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Mandee Leann April 10, 2012 at 11:34 pm

This was very helpful. I’m a female “5-5″, 21yrs old. I currently weigh 145 and my goal is 120 in two months, any other helpful advice?

alicia January 3, 2013 at 8:38 pm

I’m 50yrs old an I go on my treadmill everyday for 2 hrs I burn anywhere,to 500 to 900 caloris a day, I keep gaining an not loosing, I eat eggs,veggies,an fruit, I weigh 160 an want to get down to 1.what can I do? Or what am I doing wrong?5

Cathy Parkes January 3, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Hi Alicia! Two hours is a long time to spend on a treadmill. Also, I’m concerned that you might not be eating enough! I would set a reasonable goal of losing 1 pound a week, calculate how many calories you need to consume to make that goal (using the steps listed on the post), and make sure you aren’t cutting back too far. If you cut your calories too low, your metabolism will slow down and you won’t get the results you want. A couple other things I should mention: (1) Treadmills often overstate the amount of calories burned, so you may want to invest in a heart rate monitor to get a more accurate number, (2) Using an online tool like Sparkpeople or a calorie tracker on your smart phone like LoseIt can really help you keep track of your calories, (3) Try switching up your exercise from just walking the treadmill – maybe try weight training, swimming, dancing, biking, or something else. Sometimes that can help you get out of a rut and start losing again. Good luck in reaching your goal, Alicia.

Cathy Parkes January 3, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Hi Mandee! Sorry for the late reply! At 5’5″, I am wondering if 120 pounds might be a bit aggressive. You want to make sure you pick a goal weight that you will be able to maintain in the long run… and still enjoy your life! Maybe you work towards 135 and see how you feel then? In terms of advice, I would make exercise a priority (30-45 minutes at least 5 days a week), and keep track of your calorie intake until you understand how to eat to lose about 1 pound a week. LoseIt on a Smartphone or one of many online tools can help you do that. Other than that, I would make sure you are keeping busy in your daily life, so you aren’t eating out of boredom! :) Good luck, Mandee.

alicia January 10, 2013 at 11:23 am

Thank you. Cathy for info , it was helpful, I figure the treadmill calorie count would be off, that’s why I go longer on it, I do walk . 3.5 miles an take my incline up to 9.5 an back down again an repeat .after I do streatchees jumping jacks,then I use ankle weights an walk 3.3 milesan hour an take incline to 4 back down repeat. Stretch an so on

jennifer January 31, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Hi Cathy.
I am 5’6 and weigh 202 pds. About 6 months ago my MD put me on phentremine and I started exercising and lost about 20 pds in 3 months. Then we agreed to wean off and stop completely which I did. I have continued to exercise and have only maintained. I do 45-1hr long DVDs in variation. Between Zumba and interval training mostly. When I am done I am sweating, out of breathe (reasonably), and red in the face. I give it my all. I started counting “points” about a month ago and have only managed to lose 2 pds. I believe 25 pts which is what I’m eating is approx. 1250 calories. Am I not eating enough? I would like to be about 145. I’m ok with 160. Breakfast consist of a pack of oatmeal or an egg white sandwich on whole wheat bread w/ spinach, lunch is light soup, turkey sandwich w/mustard and spinach or left overs. Along with apple, light yogurt and usually 100 calorie snack. Dinner is usually baked chicken, pork, spaghetti, pizza, burritos, hamburger helper(all with 95% lean meat) along with veggies. I keep all of those within my “points”/calorie range as to not go over for the day. I also have coffee at night w/sugar free creamer, no sugar to help with sweet cravings at night. Help, what am I doing wrong?

Cathy Parkes February 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Hi there! It sounds like you are very committed to losing weight and working hard to do so. Congratulations on keeping up with your exercise and calorie tracking. If you weigh around 200 pounds and are exercising ~5 days a week, I’m a little concerned that eating 1250 calories a day may not be enough. Most of your food choices (egg white sandwich w/spinach, apple, yogurt, baked chicken) are really good. However, some of the other items you listed (pizza, burritos, hamburger helper) are pretty high in sodium and preservatives, which may not be helping matters. Losing 2 pounds a month is good, but I understand that you are expecting to lose more given all that you are doing! Perhaps you can increase your calorie count to about 1500, and make sure those extra 250 calories are “whole foods”. So, add in more fruit, veggies, and/or nuts. If that doesn’t work, maybe your doctor can shed some light on a better approach. Good luck and keep up the great work!!

Shilo February 7, 2013 at 1:27 am

I’m 17, and I weight about 165 and i’m 5’6″. I’ve been exercizing for the past two weeks, I watch what i eat and I count calories. I’m in the gym for an hour, sometimes over, and I burn on average a little more than 200 calories a day. I really want to lose at least 10 pounds, but I only seem to be gaining it. Am I not eating enough? Or am I not working out enough?

Cathy Parkes February 7, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Hi Shilo! Good job on hitting the gym over the past 2 weeks! In order to offer some advice, I need to get a few more details from you. I am curious how many days a week you go to the gym? Also, when you say that you burn 200 calories a day, do you mean during your time at the gym? Finally, when you count calories, how many calories are you eating on average each day? What type of foods do you eat? Trying to lose weight is really a balancing act… it is important not to go overboard on exercise and calorie counting because it is usually not sustainable in the long run. But in order to lose weight, you DO have to make changes in diet and exercise – ideally changes you can stick with for the rest of your life.

Donna February 13, 2013 at 6:03 am

Hi Cathy!
When i started my weight loss 3 yrs ago i was 258 pounds. Im currently weighing 176. Ive got 30 more pounds to go roughly. Id like to reach my goal weight of 140. The last 30 pounds is becoming more difficult to lose. The only exercising ive been doing is walking the treadmill. Im currently walking at 3.5, 30 mins a day 5 days a week. Ive started recently adding in cardio to my workout a few days a week. The weight just isnt really budging much at all. I believe im platueing. On average i eat in the 1300′s and thats counting the calories i burn exercising. 1400′s not counting burned calories. What do you think is the problem to why the weight isnt coming off? Am i not eating enough or working out enough? Id appreciate any advice you might have.

Thanks! :o)

Cathy Parkes February 13, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Hi Donna! First of all, congratulations on your incredible weight loss! You should be so proud of yourself. So, the hitting a plateau is a really common, particularly when you are trying to lose those last pounds to reach your goal weight. The walking you’ve been doing has worked for you so far, but I think it may be time to change things up in terms of exercise. Your body can get used to a certain exercise routine, and it doesn’t have to work as hard to do that routine after a while. I think you will get better results if you add in a little strength training a couple days a week. If you are gym person, you can join a beginner strength training class there. Or you can just do a DVD at home (like me). Take a look at some of my DVD recommendations…I think Minna’s Emergency workout is really great for people who are just starting out with strength training. Jillian Michaels is more intense. Also, have you thought about swimming laps? I swim one day a week, and the scale always looks good the morning after I swim laps. So, I think if you stick with your eating plan, but vary your workout a little more, that may be just the thing to start losing again. Good luck!! :)

Donna February 14, 2013 at 12:02 am

Hi Cathy! Thanks for replying back to me so quickly :)
“The walking you’ve been doing has worked for you so far, but I think it may be time to change things up in terms of exercise”. I totally agreed with what you said there and that is why i recently added in a cardio workout video along with the walking. So do you think i should stop doing the video and just do strength training and continue walking also? I dont own a car so i cant get myself to a gym at all. I do however have a resistance band that i can shorten for different lengths. Ive been working with that also at times. I cant do any swimming due to not having a car to get there. I have boughten two of Jillian Michaels DVD’s, Killer Buns & Thighs and the Killer Abs. I am concerned with maybe i am not eating enough calories but if you think with what i am eating is good then ill stick with the same calorie intake. I think because ive added in the cardio workout video that my body is holding onto any fluid right now and that is why im seeing the scale go up a bit. This morning i weighed at 179 and i cant seem to get back down to the 173 i was right before Christmas. I did gain 6 pounds due to the holidays and it was starting to come down 2 weeks after New Years and then i thought to kick it up a notch by adding the cardio video and the weight is shooting back up. What do you think i should do? Im at a loss :(
Thanks Cathy!

Cathy Parkes February 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Donna! Sorry for my delay in responding this time. Between my mom visiting, taking care of my two kiddos, and Nursing school, it’s been crazy at my house. So, upon second look, I think your calories could be a little low. I am always concerned when people drop below the 1500/1600 mark, as I think it could slow down your metabolism. You are doing SO many things right… I would just add in some strength training 2x a week and keep your calories around 1500. As for the types of food you eat, I would really focus on lean protein, fruits, and veggies as much as possible. I would limit the carbs you eat to whole-grain choices a couple times a day. You may already be doing all this. If so, you can disregard that advice! As I shared in my previous message, you should be SO proud of yourself for all you’ve accomplished. The last pounds are always the hardest to lose, so hang in there and good luck!! :)

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Nicole March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am

Hi Cathy

I weigh 170lbs 5’4 and 32 years old… I would like to reach a goal weight of 145 in 3 months… Right now I just started counting calories so im eating between 1300 and 1400… Ive been doing zumba 3 days a week… this is my 2nd week.. Now the problem… I don’t sleep.. I work 2 jobs and literally average 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night during the work week… Everyone keeps telling me to find a way to sleep but its not possible at the moment I’m not quitting a one of my jobs… How can I stay on track with losing weight… This is the heavest I have ever been … also let me add that both of jobs require sitting all day… some helpful tips for me… And how do I know if I’m balancing the right foods…

kemnedy March 6, 2013 at 1:59 am

I Cathy! I’m 5’5 and weigh 112 and 13 years old. I’ve been running at a fast pace for 20min every night on the tread mill and doing a series of abdominal work outs. My goal weight is 100 pounds. But I can’t seem to lose those extra pounds!! I’m confused on why I’m not losing the weight.):

Cathy Parkes March 6, 2013 at 4:48 am

Hi there! Well, at 5’5 and 112 pounds, you don’t need to lose weight! Also, since you are 13 and still growing and developing, cutting back on calories and trying to lose weight may deprive your body of the nutrients it needs during this important time. Instead of trying to lose weight, I would just concentrate on keeping an active lifestyle and eating healthy (fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein). You are the perfect size, and it’s important to enjoy your teenage years without obsessing over weight. Be kind to yourself!!

Cathy Parkes March 6, 2013 at 5:04 am

Hi Nicole. I’m so sorry for your incredibly stressful and busy life right now. I have to be honest that your lack of sleep and sedentary job are two important factors that will likely make it a challenge to lose weight. So, first and foremost – working towards a goal of having one job that will allow you to get at least 7 hours of sleep is really important. I realize that this may be financially unrealistic for you right now, but it is definitely something to work towards… In terms of sitting all day, can you walk around or pace while on the phone? My friend’s husband constructed a “treadmill desk” for his home office, and he walks VERY slowly (1 mph) all day long while programming and doing conference calls. Over the course of a year, I believe he lost over 30 pounds. Anything you can do to stand or walk will help you. One of the reasons I chose a new career path as a Nurse (over a better paying position as a IT manager) was my need to be less sedentary. Sitting behind a computer all day and in meetings (with donuts and bagels always available) was really making a struggle to lose weight.

In terms of your calories and eating. Your calories probably need to be a bit higher on your Zumba days – around 1,500-1,600. IN terms of what to eat – I would eat lots of fruits and veggies, limit your carbs to whole grains, eat healthy proteins (eggs, greek yogurt, lean meat, nuts), and lay off the sweets as much as possible. Keep tracking your calories, as this is a great way to make sure you are aren’t eating too much or too little.

Good luck with everything on your plate, Nicole. I hope that you are able to get to a place with better balance in the near future. Take care!

Chelsea March 8, 2013 at 4:25 am

I’m so lost! I’m 25 and have a lot of medical issues. PSOD, lupus, diabetes, a lot of other things. I take 15 pills at night and 9 in the mornings. Just found out I have IBS and a fatty liver and my stomach dr wanted me to do the South Beach Diet. With me having lupus and also bulging disk in my back I can’t do a lot of exercise like most people. I bought a pool before I was diagnosed with lupus to exercise in, but my dr said just load up in sunscreen if that’s all I can do. I’m only maybe 5’1 I weighed at the dr today 245. Everyone says I don’t look like I weigh that much she even made me do it again today. I’m big boned I guess I don’t know. I have no butt at all its all my belly no legs either. My problem is I’m never hungry I have to make myself eat and that’s once day. I would like to get down to 150 but I don’t know where to start or what to do besides I know I need to make myself eat. If you could email me chelsea_lynn2005@yahoo.com thanks.

Nicole March 12, 2013 at 12:45 am

Hi Cathy so you told me to bump up my calorie in take I wanted to know if this was too much for my day.. Now remember I’m the one that has the two jobs so I’m up pretty early.. I start work at 3am and my work day ends at 6:30pm so this is what I had for the whole day…

Apple -6am
1/2 Turkey Sandwich on wheat bread with lettuce and tbl mayo – 8am
snack-frosted mini wheats dry 1 cup
1/2 turkey sandwich and tortilla soup 1 1/2 cups and half avocado- 12:30pm
snack- 3 tbls of hummus and 5 whole wheat crackers-3p
mixed lettuce light dressing 2tbls with grilled chk and 1/2 avocado -5p

I had black coffee in the morning and water throughout the day…

So this is what I had the calorie count came out to about 1460 I think it might be more… I feel pretty full does this look like a healthy day… Im really new to this better foods thing so what’s healthy is like someone speaking German to me…

Mignon Spencer March 14, 2013 at 5:09 am

Hi Cathy, I’m 5’9 and I weight 230 pounds. I used to be play basketball in college team and train for marathon competition, I weight 140 lbs before my knee injury, I hurt my knee in a marathon, fell on my knee and totally torn my ACL on both knees. I also have hormone issues since teenage years. Well, long story short, I gained 50 pounds in the year after my injury, and gradually put on 40 more in the 6 years after that. I barely eat any fast food, I cook majority of my food from fresh ingredients, but still keep putting on weight. I knew I was low on protein and high on carbs. Well, I think my metabolism is probably pretty messed up, especially I don’t get to exercise much, and I had tried to fast (skip dinner for weeks) in the past, and 2 years ago, I was diagnosed with depression, which is even worse for my weight. I think I hit my rock bottom and I decided to get my life back.
Now I’m doing some light exercise like weight training, balance ball, 3 times a week, alternate with 2 miles walk(30 minutes), 3 times a week. I had my calorie goal on 1000, eating very healthy, 35-40% lean protein, 25-30% carb, and 30% ish fat, (mostly from chicken, avocado, and nuts). I had some days my net calorie is actually a little lower than 1000, some days about right. I’m hoping to lose 4-5 pounds a week without too much of exercise load on my knee (I plan on doing some elliptical and swimming in the future to add variety). My questions is, is 1000 calories too low, will that suppress my metabolism too much? If my net calories is a little short of 1000, will that be a negative thing?
Thank you very much!

Ashley March 15, 2013 at 6:40 pm

I’m 5 ft and am 137 lbs. I would like to get down to 120 in 2 months. I’m in college and so I walk back and forth to all my students but am also sitting a great deal of time. I work out about 3 times a week. What should my calorie intake be?

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 2:41 am

Hi Ashley. I would say that on days that you DON’T work out, you should probably aim for about 1350 calories. Depending on the intensity and length of your workouts, I would add another 100-250 calories on the days that you DO work out. Good luck!!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:07 am

Hi Mignon! Sounds like you are doing really well with exercise. Your nutrient break down is also right on track. You may already be doing this, but make sure to get lots of fruits and veggies in each day. In terms of the number of calories you eat each day, it’s my opinion that 1,000 is TOO LOW. Dropping your calories down to this level may negatively impact your metabolism, since your body will think it’s in “starvation mode”. In response to lower calories, it will slow everything down, which is not what you want! So, I would keep the same nutrient break down, but increase your calorie count to at least 1,200-1,500 per day. Sounds like you are no longer skipping meals, which is great. Maybe add the extra calories in as snacks, which should include a lean protein and ideally a fruit or veggie. The other thing I’d like to mention is that losing 4-5 pounds a week is kind of aggressive. If you can consistently lose 1 pound a week, that is something that you can sustain over a long period of time. Shows like “The Biggest Loser” make it seem like we should lose massive weight each week, but really slow and steady is the way to go! One pound a week will add up quickly, and you won’t be so miserable on your road to goal. Keep up the great work and good luck!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:13 am

Hi Nicole! I feel so bad for your work schedule… I hope that you can move towards a better work-home balance in the future. :) So, GREAT job adjusting your calorie intake. Your food choices are really good too, Nicole! The only change I would make would be to include a few more fruits and veggies. Perhaps you can reduce 1/2 of avocado and replace it with another fruit or some baby carrots. Other than that, it looks great. If you are full, and this kind of eating plan is sustainable for you, then I think you will be really successful in losing weight. Keep up the great work. Be sure to keep me posted!!

Cathy Parkes March 18, 2013 at 3:23 am

Hi Chelsea! I am so sorry for all your health concerns. I am going to school to be a nurse, but I am definitely not qualified to give you advice on the best way to proceed. If your doctor recommended the South Beach Diet, then that is probably the way to go. If a Weigh 2 Go member is interested in giving South Beach a try, I usually recommend that they begin with Phase II or III vs. Phase I (which is overly restrictive). However, I would check with your doctor to first to make sure that would be OK. As for swimming, I have found it to be an EXCELLENT way to lose weight. I walk up to our neighborhood pool once a week and swim laps, and the scale is always very happy the next morning. So, if swimming is all you can do, that is not a bad thing! Eating at least 3 times a day is important too, and if you follow the South Beach plan, you will be doing that. I realize you have many obstacles in your path, but if you follow the advice of your doctor, I hope that you’ll be able to lose weight and reach your goal! Good luck to you, Chelsea.

Donna March 21, 2013 at 5:36 am

Hi Cathy! :o)
Sorry for not responding back to you, i totally forgot about my post until just now and so i thought id take a look and i seen that you replied. I so appreciate the fact that you took the time to respond so thank you! :o)
Here was your reply to me so you can get familair again…

“Cathy Parkes February 27, 2013 at 4:39 pm
Hi Donna! Sorry for my delay in responding this time. Between my mom visiting, taking care of my two kiddos, and Nursing school, it’s been crazy at my house. So, upon second look, I think your calories could be a little low. I am always concerned when people drop below the 1500/1600 mark, as I think it could slow down your metabolism. You are doing SO many things right… I would just add in some strength training 2x a week and keep your calories around 1500. As for the types of food you eat, I would really focus on lean protein, fruits, and veggies as much as possible. I would limit the carbs you eat to whole-grain choices a couple times a day. You may already be doing all this. If so, you can disregard that advice! As I shared in my previous message, you should be SO proud of yourself for all you’ve accomplished. The last pounds are always the hardest to lose, so hang in there and good luck!! ”

Ok to get you up to speed to where i am at in my journey to weight loss since Febuary. I have already started strength training 3 times a week for the last 2 weeks, added in more cardio. I burn exercising anywhere from 300 to 480 calories a day Monday-Friday, rest during the weekends. I upped my calorie intake to 1500-1600 a day. I finally came back down to 174 just recently and relost the 6 pounds i gained during the holidays. Im currently 174-175. Im hoping with the increase of exercise and calories the scale will start to go down further. I have however noticed the weight loss in my measurements. I measure more often now (every 2 weeks) due to the resistance training and so im seeing the difference in that and not seeing it as much in the scale. My idea was to build muscle to burn the fat and hopefully id start seeing it in the scale but im just not. I get how that all works! I just want to eat the right amount of calories and burn the right amount to lose these last 34 pounds. If you think you can add anything else id really love any suggestion you might have :o) It was nice to see your last comment because it only confirmed what i had started doing already lol so at least i was doing something right even though i was unsure. Thanks Cathy :o) Hope to hear back from ya, NITE!! Donna

emily stoke April 4, 2013 at 9:09 pm

Hi iam 31 years old i am 185lbs i have been taking pure green coffee bean 3 times a day and i walk 3 miles each day i eat about 1400 calories a day mostly whole foods and i do not eat after 6pm i am loosing weight and kinda fast am i doing this right?

Jenny April 6, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Great article – it has been really helpful for me. I am 51 years old and have lost 65 pounds over the last 2 years. I am now at 193lbs. I workout 5-6 days a week. I wear a heart rate monitor that tracks my calorie burn. So I burn at least 600-1200 calories a workout depending. 3 days a week, I do bootcamp type workouts with a trainer, 2-3 I run or do other cardio. I’ve been eating around 1300 calories a day and CANNOT consistently lose. I lose 2 then gain 1. I track my food every day. I eat mostly whole foods, try not to eat any processed food. Lots of protein daily. So frustrated – I want to lose at least 30 more pounds. Its not like I’m that close to my goal yet, so I can’t figure out what I’m doing wrong.

Mignon Spencer April 8, 2013 at 3:19 am

Dear Cathy, thank you so much for the advice. I changed my calorie goal to 1200 after I saw your response. I have been working on balance diet, some cardio and some weights. Well, it was challenging but I have lost 13 pounds so far. My doctor said I lost 26 pounds of fat, and gained 13 pounds of muscle. Yay!
I do need some help with calories vs net calories. Hope you can shed some light on this. I usually eat around 1200 to 1400, if I work out that day, I would eat more to balance my net calorie to around 1200, if I’m not working out, I will only eat 1200 calories. But I wonder, if I eat 1200 today, and at the end of the day, I work out, like say burned 300 calories on elliptical, my net calories is only 900 now for today. Do I have to eat some more calories to make it up to 1200, like what I’m doing now? Is it a negative thing to have a lower net calorie even if I ate enough in? Cause sometimes, I eat only because I haven’t eaten enough yet, not because I’m hungry or craving.
Again, thank you so much for everything. I feel encouraged to see it’s possible and there’s some hope in front of me.
Hope to hear from you! Have a great week everyone!

Stephanie April 11, 2013 at 11:55 pm

OMG Kathy please help me! I don’t know what to do! I come home and weigh myself I gained 3 pounds in a day?! All I’ve eaten healthy low calorie low carb foods. I can’t seem to lose weight! To start off I don’t even know how many calories to eat! I saw this girl on YouTube she said she lost a whole lot of weight eating 1000 and exercising for an hour. Which I do! And I can’t lose weight I’m hungry all the time. Right now I weigh 147 it’s April 11th I’d like to weigh 130 by May 2nd 2013. I’m 5’5 I’m 18 years old! How many calories should I eat. Also I don’t run anymore! I just do vigorous workouts that target different areas if the body. Like abs and arms one day and legs and butt another day but I workout for an hour. Please just help me I don’t know what to do.

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:13 am

Hi Emily! I think keeping your calories around 1400-1500 sounds pretty good. Also, avoiding late-night eating is a good idea too. I don’t know anything about green coffee beans… just make sure your doctor is ok with it! Other than that, if you are losing weight and feeling good, then good for you!!

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:16 am

Hi Jenny! It really seems to me that you aren’t eating enough, given the intensity of your workouts! If you eat 1300 calories a day, but burn 600-1200, that doesn’t give your body enough calories to function properly. Consequently, your metabolism may be slowing down, which could explain why you aren’t getting good results right now. Using the formula on this web page, calculate how much you should be eating WITHOUT exercise, then make sure to factor in 1/2 the calories you burn via exercise each day. I think once your body gets sufficient nutrients again, you may see your metabolism pick, and hopefully you will start losing again. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes April 12, 2013 at 12:24 am

Hi Stephanie! First of all, please know that your weight will fluctuate daily. There will some days, when you get close to your period, where the scale might go up quite a bit. So, I would recommend only weighing in once a week – in the morning, when you wake up. Also, don’t pay attention to the girl on YouTube. 1,000 calories is NOT enough, particularly when you are working out an hour each day. So, I would recommend using the formula on this web page to calculate the calories you need each day. I’m guessing it will end up around 1,500, give or take 100 calories. Cutting calories too low is completely counterproductive… it will only mess up your metabolism. Make sure your diet is rich in veggies, fruits, whole grains, and lean protein. Don’t overdo it on the exercise either. Make sure you maintain an exercise regimen that you can stick with for the rest of your life. Every day doesn’t have to be vigorous. Think about walking, swimming, skating, or some other cardio in between your strength training workouts. The other thing I want to mention is that at 5’5″, you are not that overweight… so go easy on yourself! Good luck!!

Nicole April 23, 2013 at 2:09 am

Hi im Nicole , im 13 5 foot 3 inches and 202.1ponuds.. Yes i know im oveweigth by a lot,. don’t remind me. But what should i do if i don’t have a job and my goal weight is at least 120 ?? Anything ?

Kaylee April 25, 2013 at 3:19 am

Hi! I’m 14, I, (sadly), weigh 165 pounds. I’m 5’4. I’m trying to reach the weight goal of 125 or 130. If I use these steps, will I actually lose weight? I have a slow metabolism due to the fact that I’ve never be thin, literally. I’ve been on a lot of fad diets, which have ruined my metabolism. Are there any tips as well that you can help me?

Kelly April 29, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Hi Cathy! I am 42 years old and 5’2. I weigh 170 lbs. I have a desk job and sit for most of the day. I want to lose about 50 lbs. I have been cutting back. I still eat what ever I want for dinner but skip breakfast and have something light for lunch. I’m not really counting calories but I make sure I dont go over 1200 a day. Some days may be less though. I have also added some exercise to my daily routine. I walk 2 miles per day. I have lost about 4 lbs in about 2 weeks. Should I continue with this routine or what can I do to improve my chances of losing the extra weight? My goal is 50 lbs in 5 months.

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Hi Nicole! You don’t have to worry about me judging you or anything… this website is all about providing support and encouragement. The good news is that not having a job gives you lots of time for exercise, right? So, I would start walking 5 times a week, and work your way up to 3 miles per walk, at a brisk pace. In terms of calories, I would use the formula provided on this page to determine how many calories you should be eating each day based on your activity level. Make sure not to go too low, as this can mess up your metabolism big time. In terms of what TYPE of calories you should be eating, stick with lean protein, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. When you are just starting off, it’s important to keep a food journal (or use an iPhone app) to track your eating. You will also want to measure/weigh foods to get a good idea of how much you are eating. Typically, during the process of keeping a food journal, you will find foods that you are eating that are contributing too much to your daily calorie budget. For me, I found out that my Saturday morning pancakes (with butter and syrup) added up to over 700 calories by keeping a food journal. BUMMER! In any case, good luck Nicole! You can do it! Check back in with us in the near future to let us know how you are doing! :)

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 11:01 pm

Hi Kaylee! I’m glad you have seen the light on fad diets. Any diet that makes you cut calories severely or eliminate entire food groups is bad news! Over time, your metabolism should recover. The important thing is to make sure you exercise regularly and keep your calories within a reasonable range (~ 1,500 a day). If you stick to the calories calculated on this webpage and incorporate daily exercise, you *should* start seeing results. When I say results, I mean losing 1 pound a week, which is plenty. The slower it comes off, the more likely you will be able to stick with your plan and keep off the weight. I know too many people who are expecting to lose weight like “The Biggest Loser”, and that is just not realistic or healthy. One pound a week adds up over time, and you won’t be starving yourself or screwing up your metabolism. As for the types of foods to eat – stick with lean protein, whole grains, and lots of fruits and veggies. Keep a food journal and weigh/measure out your food for a while until you get a knack for portion sizes. Good luck, Kaylee! I know you will do great!

Cathy Parkes April 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Hi Kelly! Losing 10 pounds a month is a pretty aggressive goal… and not one that you will likely achieve without cutting calories really low and making yourself miserable! So, first of all, you DO NOT want to skip breakfast. After a night of sleep (and fasting), your body needs breakfast to kick start your metabolism. It doesn’t have to be a huge breakfast. One scrambled egg and a piece of whole wheat toast is a great breakfast that will keep you full for hours. By not eating, you will ultimately slow down your metabolism. So make sure you start eating breakfast! In terms of exercise, it’s great that you are walking 2 miles each day. If you can make it closer to 3 miles, and incorporate some strength training a few days a week, that would be ideal. You can take a look at my “Reviews” page for some DVD recommendations that can help you with strength training. And finally, your calorie count is low. I would use the formula provided on this webpage to figure out how many calories you should consume each day. I can tell you that it will likely be around 1,500, given your daily walks. So, keeping your calories under 1,200 is TOO LOW and will result in slower metabolism. While you are losing weight quickly now, if you continue to consume so few calories, you will stop losing weight because of a weak metabolism. So, I would really increase your calories to around 1,500 and be a little more patient with your weight loss. Losing 1 pound a week is great, because it doesn’t require huge sacrifices on your part and won’t mess up your metabolism. It may take you 10 months to reach your goal, but you will be more likely to keep it off in the long run. Good luck, Kelly!

Kelly May 2, 2013 at 7:34 pm

Thank you so much Cathy! I will try that. I actually have increased my walk to about 3 miles. I am going to continue to increase that. I actually jogged part of my 3 miles last night and I’m amazed that I could at all. I already feel better and that is incouraging. I also have been doing some crunches and working out a little with 5 lb dumb bells. I will try to start eating breakfast. I just have never been a breakfast person but I know it is the most important meal of the day. I am really enjoying this whole “lifestyle change” right now and I pray that I always will. Thank you for the helpful advise!

Danielle May 3, 2013 at 8:56 am

Hi Cathy! I’m 4’11 & 155 lbs. My goal weight is 120 lbs or close to it. I plan on changing my diet so that I’ll be eating healthier foods & working out 3 times a week. How many calories should I intake each day? And how long do you think it will take for me to reach my weight goal?

Cathy Parkes May 5, 2013 at 5:25 pm

Hi Danielle! I think your goal weight sounds very reasonable. As for how many calories you should eat each day, I would use the calculations shown on this webpage. It will give you a specific number based on your goal weight, height, activity level, etc. The people who are most successful in losing weight and keeping it off typically lose 1 pound a week. If you did that, you would reach your goal weight in 35 weeks. That is great that you have a plan for eating healthier foods and working out 3 times a week. After a while, you may want to increase the number of days you exercise to 5 days, and incorporate both aerobic and strength training exercises. Good luck Danielle. Keep us up to date! :)

Cathy Parkes May 5, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Kelly! I am so happy to hear about all the great lifestyle changes you are making. Great job with the walking/running and strength training. Sounds like you are feeling good and on the right path to success. Keep up the great work!! :)

Kiyah May 7, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Hi Cathy,
I am 33, 5 foot 5 and weigh 178 pounds. I would like to lose 10-20 more pounds. I am struggling right now with how many calories I should consume daily. I have been consuming 1200 calories per day without excercise. I exercise 4-5 days a week but the scale hasnt moved in months. How many calories should I consume on days I exercise and days that I dont exercise?

Sarah May 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm

I think the amount of calorie intake that is being told is incorrect. At least it is for me. I try to stay around 1200 calories a day. I have been on my diet for about 1-1/2 months now and I have lost 15lbs. If I eat more that 1200 calories I gain 1/2 to a lb. If I stay around 1200 or less I lose 1/2 to a lb. I am 5’9 and weight 175 now and I started at 190. I work out 6 days a week, 3 to 4 days out of those 6 days I works out twice a day (30 minutes each time). So no matter how much I workout, if I go over the 1200 calories I gain.

Cathy Parkes May 8, 2013 at 2:25 am

Hi Sarah! It sounds like you have a weight loss plan that works for you, and that is great. Based on my experience as a weight loss support group leader for many years, it’s my opinion that 1,200 calories a day is too low for someone who is tall and exercises regularly. I think cutting calories drastically can result in a sluggish metabolism. That being said, everyone is different, and you’ve got to do what works for you. So, thanks so much for your perspective and good luck on meeting your weight loss goal!! :)

Cathy Parkes May 8, 2013 at 2:31 am

Hi Kiyah. Based on the formula provided on this webpage, your target calorie count should be closer to 1500-1600. So, I am wondering if you are cutting your calories too low, which would cause your metabolism to slow down. You may want to keep a food journal and weigh/measure your food for a while to be sure of how many calories you are consuming. Also, you could try changing things up with your current exercise plan. I’m not sure what you are currently doing for exercise and for how long, but variety is key for burning calories. Best of luck, Kiyah!! :)

Carla May 11, 2013 at 4:03 am

Hi cathy,
I weigh about 204 pounds and i am 5’4 i want to get down to 155 pounds but i was wondering where to start i have been working out almost 3 days a week of intense cardio for an hour (kickboxing,jumping rope,running) i just started counting calories on the myfitness pal app. My question to you is my app says im suppose to intake about 1480 a day but does that mean that when i work out i must still meet the 1480 calorie goal? Its been a month and i still havent lost any weight. I dont know what im doing wrong please help. Thanks

Barbra May 12, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hi,
I am 15 years old. I am 5’6″ and weigh 158. I play softball for 2 to 3 hours 3-4 times a week. I try to eat as healthy as I can but, I am usually out late and practice doesn’t end until 7:00 or 8:00. I would like to weigh around 130ish. I run close to a mile every other day.

Barbra May 12, 2013 at 7:23 pm

I need some ideas for losing my weight. Please help!

Christina May 14, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Hi Cathy!
I am 26 years old 5’8 and 160 pounds. My goal weight is 145. I used to weigh this much 6 months ago. I was always on my feet, moving around and working out. I had a small knee injury and deployed. The food here is pretty terrible so I was desperate for food. The only thing other than MREs was bread. So not only was I sitting all day but also eating white bread. I cut the bread out and started eating tuna (50g or less of carbs a day!) but was only taking in 700-900 calories a day to compensate for the less than sedentary lifestyle. I was so frustrated from gaining weight constantly but put my body into starvation mode.

I’ve gotten better. My knee has healed and I am able to do physical fitness before work. I average about 1200-1300 calories a day even with running. I just started running 50 minutes (5-6miles) a day. I am considering kicking it up to 2 hours a day (once in the morning and once at the end of the day) to lose this weight. I have a hard time eating food but take about 50g fat, 140g carbs, 140g protein, 25g fiber and 40g sugar a day. I am so frustrated with this weight gain cuz I am used to a very slender body. Should I change to 2 hours or tweak anything nutrition wise? Or am I just impatient?

I am redeploying in 3 months and will go back to my active lifestyle. Will the weight start to come off easier then? I really want to be back to at least 150 lbs before I redeploy. Please help

Nancy May 15, 2013 at 4:23 pm

I am 63 and have gained about 20 lbs. over the last 5 years. I currently weigh 171 and want to lose the 20 lbs to feel better. My exercise level is not what it used to be due to illness and surgery a few years back. I try not to overeat but getting back to moving more is hard! I read your calculations for calorie intake. I am going to try to limit my intake to 1500 calories and increase my daily exercise to walking a mile and 15 minutes of free weights. At my age, would that combination seem efficient to reach 150 lbs in a few months?

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:21 am

Hi Carla! So, your app seems like it has set a reasonable daily calorie target for you. Since you haven’t lost weight eating 1480 calories a day in the past month, I am wondering if your portion sizes could be off. Have you tried weighing/measuring out your food to be sure that you are consuming the amount you think you are? Sometimes it takes a while to get a feel for portion sizes, so it’s important to make sure you get it right or else you might be eating a lot more calories than intended. In terms of your question about how many calories to eat when working out – typically, when you work out, you need a few extra calories to get you through the day. I’m not talking about replacing the amount of calories you burn with exercise, but maybe just tacking on another 100 or 200, depending on the intensity of your exercise. Also, if you could incorporate 2 more exercise days a week, I think that might help. Since you are doing intense cardio on the other days, perhaps you can go for a walk or do some light resistance training. Good luck, Carla!!

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:29 am

Hi Barbra! So, at 5’6″ and 158, you are just a LITTLE out of the “normal” range for your BMI. See this link: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm

It’s great that you play softball 3-4 days a week. Besides getting great exercise, I’m sure you have lots of good friends on your team. It might be worth incorporating some different types of exercise on your non-softball days. For example, some resistance training or running could help you shed a little weight AND help with your softball game! In terms of eating, I would recommend incorporating lean protein (including nuts and greek yogurt), whole grain carbs, and lots of fruits and veggies. I’m sure you are super hungry when you get home at 7/8pm, so make sure you have some nutritious options that are READY TO GO when you get home. For example, have some cut up fruit or veggies and hummus in the refrigerator.

Just remember that you don’t have much weight to lose. I think 130 is a little low for your height. Plus, you are young and should have fun. Trying to get down to a really low weight will likely make you miserable. So, just aim for 5-10 pounds over an extended period of time. Enjoy your teenage years! :)

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:33 am

Hi Barbra! You came to the right place. I’ve got tons of advice in this website. Click on my “articles” tab, or here is the link: http://happydieter.com/weight-loss-tips-from-happy-dieter/

I’ve taught weight loss support groups for years, so these articles offer lots of practical advice for how to successfully lose weight. The key, in my opinion, is not to go overboard on dieting. Make small changes that you can live with for the rest of your life. Fad diets are never sustainable and can really mess up your metabolism. So, stick with regular exercise and a balanced diet to get sustainable results. Check on my articles, and let me know what you think! :)

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:45 am

Hi Christina! First of all, let me say THANK YOU for your service to our country. My thoughts will be with you when you redeploy in 3 months! I so glad your knee is healed and that you are able to incorporate daily runs into your life. At 5’8″ and 160 pounds, you are actually officially in the “normal” range for your BMI (See this link: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/guidelines/obesity/BMI/bmicalc.htm). I can certainly respect the fact that you would like your previous slender figure back, but as we get older, it can be harder to maintain a very low weight. At your height and activity level (HIGH with daily runs), I really think your daily calories (1200-1300) are LOW. I would really aim for at least 1,500 calories a day. Also, I noticed that your protein is really high and carbohydrates really low. I don’t know about you, but I could not maintain that kind of eating plan in the long run… Maybe you could try increasing your calories, and adding in some fruit and healthy whole grains to balance out your nutrients? Everyone has different opinions on how much protein vs. carbs to eat. I tend to fall on the side of keeping things more balanced. Hope that helps! Good luck!!

Cathy Parkes May 17, 2013 at 2:52 am

Hi Nancy! I’m sorry to hear about your illness and surgery, but it sounds like you are now able to do some limited exercise. It can be really hard to lose weight when you can’t be very active. So, I think limiting your intake to 1400-1500 and incorporating as much as exercise as you can sounds like a solid plan! That will likely result in a loss of about 1 pound a week, or 4 pounds a month. So, to lose 20 pounds, that would take approximately 5 months if you are really consistent with your dieting/exercise. That may seem like a long time to some people, but losing 1 pound a week is the way to go. Losing more than 1 pound a week would require you to make drastic changes in eating and exercise that would likely NOT be sustainable in the long run. Slow and steady wins the race! Good luck, Nancy. I know you can do it! :)

coco May 31, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Hi, I’m trying to lose 40 pounds. I’m 24 years old, 5’5 and I weigh 178 pounds. I wanted to ask you how much calories should I consume to lose weight. Thanks!

Cathy Parkes June 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Hi Coco! So, using the formula on this page… Let’s assume your goal weight is 140. Then, the minimum number of calories you need to eat each day is 1400, if your job isn’t super active. Then, on days you exercise, you should add in 1/2 of the calories you burn. In other words, if you go for a run and burn 300 calories, you should add in an additional 150 calories that day. So, your total calories for that day would be 1550. On days you don’t exercise, you would keep your calorie intacke at 1400. Good luck Coco!

Gail June 25, 2013 at 9:55 pm

Hello. I am 27 and I’m 5’4 and weigh 137. I would like to get down to about 125. How many calories should I consume to reach this weight and how long would it take? Thank you!

Cathy Parkes July 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm

Hi Gail. At your height, I don’t think you have much to lose. I would definitely go about it slowly – losing no more than 1 pound a week. So, if your goal weight is 125, that would mean eating a minimum of 1250 calories a day. Then, you need to add in extra calories to account for exercise (1/2 the calories you burn that day via exercise) and your daily activity level (i.e. if you have a very active job). Just follow the steps on this page! So, if you were to lose 1 pound per week, it would take you 12 weeks to meet your goal. However, when you don’t have much to lose (like you!), it can sometimes take even longer. As long as the scale is going down, I would still be happy with a 1/2 or 1/4 pound loss each week. Good luck Gail!

Kayla July 10, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Hi, I’m a teenager and im 5’6 but I weigh 130. I use to play tackle football for my high school and engage in gym. But now i’m homeschooled so I’m constantly gaining weight, but the only place i’m gaining it is on my stomach, im getting handlebars and fat that I don’t want. How can I get down to about 115 asap, Its getting uncomforable

Patty July 22, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I’m 5″1 and 124 lbs. My goal weight is 110lbs. According to calculations provided above I need to eat 1100 calories a day +200 cal (I burn 400 cal from working out) = 1300 calories a day. I sit in my office most of the time
but I’ve been contolling all my diet… tofu, broccoli, chicken breast, granola, and yogur. I drink a protein shake the morning after my workout. I do a combination of cardio and weight machines. It’s been a week since my workout and I actually went from 120 to 124 lbs! I see myself more toned up overall but why the weight gain? Please help! Do you have any suggestions for getting leaner?

Genie July 24, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Hi Cathy,

I am 5’5 and I currently weight 130.. I’m also 34. I am right at where I need to be however, I want to loose body fat. So how much calories should I have in a day to loose body fat? I also do free weight 4 day of the week and run 2-3 miles two days of a week.

sarah crump July 31, 2013 at 1:01 am

Hi there!! I need help I’m 5″5 weigh 147 my goal weight is 125. I exercise moderately 4 to 5 times a week and am a busy mom…I really need help any suggestions!!

sigourney July 31, 2013 at 10:36 pm

so my goal weigh is 98lbs so ishould eat 980 cal?

Emma August 2, 2013 at 10:54 pm

I’m 5’2 and 143 pounds and my goal is 120 pounds. I spend an hour on the elliptical 6 days a week and I lift weights 3x/week. I burn in between 530 – 600 calories per elliptical session and my heart rate varies from 160-185 bpm. How many calories should I target to lose weight?

So far I’ve lost 4 pounds in 7 days. I don’t know if this is normal but I’m eating around 1,600 calories a days so I’m definitely not starving myself.

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:41 am

Honestly, at 5’6, 130 pounds would be considered a healthy weight. So, instead of focusing on losing weight, I would try to find a way to increase your daily activity level and get more exercise in. It could be that some of your muscle has changed to fat due to being more sedentary with homeschooling. One thing that works really well is getting a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps each day. Check out the Omron pedometer I recommend on the “Reviews” section of the HappyDieter.com website. In addition to getting in 10,000 steps each day, I would make sure to get 30-45 minutes in of additional exercise 4-5 times a week. Make sure to do different types of exercises throughout the week (i.e running/bicycling 2 times a week, strength training 2 times a week, etc). I think once you get more active, you will convert some of that fat to muscle, and feel better about yourself and your weight. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:47 am

Hi Patty. It seems like you are doing a lot of good things to improve your weight and health. If you are eating 1300 calories per day, it is really strange that you gained 4 pounds in one week. Some things that could be to blame include: (1) Perhaps some of the weight gain is due to an increase in muscle mass from your strength training, (2) Weight can fluctuate a great deal due to hormones over the course of the month, or (3) Even though your food choices are good, perhaps you are eating more that you realize. When you first start off counting calories, it’s a good idea to weigh/measure all of your food to be sure you have your portion sizes right. If you continue gaining weight in future weeks despite measuring/weighing your food, it would probably be a good idea to check in with your doctor to be sure there aren’t other complicating factors with your health. Good luck!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:50 am

Hi Genie. I agree that you are at a healthy weight for your height/age. Since you are not trying to lose weight, you need to keep your calories at a level that would MAINTAIN your weight. So, I would put that around 1,900-2,000 calories a day, given your exercise level. Your strength training regimen should be sufficient to convert body fat to muscle. Just be sure to change things up frequently, so that your muscles are worked in different ways and don’t get used to one type of exercise over and over again. You are on the right track, so keep it up!!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:56 am

Hi Sarah! I feel like 125 pounds may be a little aggressive, given that you are 5’5″. It is really great that you exercise 4-5 times a week – that is really impressive given that you are busy mom. I would just make sure that you are incorporating both cardio and strength training exercises into your exercise program. If you do the same exercises over and over, it becomes easier on your muscles and you won’t get the results you are looking for. So, be sure to challenge yourself and change things up often. In terms of eating, I would be sure to incorporate lots of fruits, veggies, lean protein, and whole grains into your diet. Try to avoid white bread, alcohol, sweets, and fatty meat as much as possible. If you keep up your exercise and focus on a balanced diet, you should feel better and look better in no time!

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 2:57 am

I guess I would have to question a goal weight of 98 pounds, unless you are REALLY, REALLY short (like 4 and a half feet tall).

Cathy Parkes August 14, 2013 at 3:04 am

Hi Emma. Wow, you are hitting hard with the exercise. Your heart rate seems a little on the high side… have you looked up your target rate for your age? If not, you may want to do so. So, your current exercise and eating plan seems to be working well – almost too well in fact! I think 1,600 calories a day is great and I would continue to stick with that. However, your exercise sessions sound a little brutal to me, and my concern is that you might burn out in the near future. You also may want to vary your cardio exercise a little. Instead of elliptical every day, how about throwing in some swimming, biking, running, or other exercise a few days of the week? In any case, great job on losing 4 pounds. Don’t be afraid to dial down your exercise a little in order to improve the likelihood that you stick with it over the long haul. Good luck!

anna August 23, 2013 at 6:00 pm

Hi, I have lost 10 pounds so far on my diet, i understand the concept, but I have read somewhere that after loosing weight the person must cut the calories a bit to maintain that weight. I am 5’5 143 pounds but have gone down to 133, but I am afraid of gaining the weight back. Do I have to cut back some calories?

Cathy Parkes September 11, 2013 at 9:37 pm

Hi Anna! Congratulations on your successful weight loss! Great job! You are right that you need to cut back your calories slightly as you lose weight. This is because your body weighs less now and needs fewer calories to maintain proper functioning. It’s not a lot, however, so if you are continuing to steadily lose weight, I wouldn’t mess with a good thing. If, however, you hit a plateau in the future, then it would be worth decreasing your calories a bit (maybe 100 calories per day).

Kim Thepparath September 24, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I am 34 years old, and i weigh 193. I want to lose weight but i’m stuck about how many calories i need to be eating to lose weight. I have been following calorie count and to lose 1.5 lbs per week it tells me to eat 1370. I try not to eat that much on a daily basis and i also exercise with the elliptical trainer and kettle bell 3 times per week burning around 500 calories. I don’t eat any of my exercise calories back. But i am no really loosing any weight.. Please help!!!

Cathy Parkes September 25, 2013 at 8:57 pm

Hi Kim. Great job so far with your exercise and calorie counting. The only reason I can think of as to why you aren’t losing weight is that perhaps you aren’t eating ENOUGH. You are burning a lot of calories with your workouts, so your calorie count should be a little higher in my opinion. I have seen this happen with several people over the years… they don’t get the results they want, so they keep cutting calories. Unfortunately, when your calories go too low, your body thinks it’s in “starvation mode” and your metabolism slows down. If you give that a try and it doesn’t work, I would check with your doctor to see if there are other underlying reasons why your weight loss plan isn’t working. Good luck Kim!!

alicia theresa carasquero October 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

Hi im 30 178 5 feet 1 my goal is to be at 130 I work out once a day 4 times a week two out of the 4 days I run and the next two days im in gym so I will do spin and weights on the 2 days I want to know what ahould be my calorie intake in order for me to loose this weight for my height its way to heavy please give advise

laquisha battles October 14, 2013 at 9:43 pm

I am 36 years old and weigh 193 lbs. I hve been dieting for about three weeks and have lost about 11lbs and haven’t lost anymore what im I doing wrongly

Cathy Parkes October 16, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi Laquisha! Losing 11 pounds in 3 weeks is quite a lot, and you should be proud of your accomplishment. I’m not sure why you think you are doing anything wrong, because it seems to me that you are doing great (as long as you aren’t going overboard on calorie cutting or exercise). I am of the opinion that losing weight slowly and steadily is the best way to go. On the Biggest Loser, they lose huge amounts of weight each week, but that is not realistic or advisable. In my experience, people who lose weight too quickly often gain it back. It is better to make smaller, sustainable changes in your life that you can live with for the rest of your life. So, keep up the good work Laquisha and give yourself a pat on the back for all that you’ve accomplished! And if you have any additional weight loss advice questions, you can ask me at free weight loss advice.

Cathy Parkes October 16, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Hi Alicia! It sounds like you are doing a great job with your exercise program (running, spinning, weights). In order to calculate your optimal number of calories, it would be good to know your daily activity level. Do you have a desk job or are you on your feet most of the day? If your job is more sedentary, then I would keep your calories around 1,500 on the days you exercise and a little less on the days you don’t. If you have a physically active job, then you will likely want to increase your daily calorie intake by 100-200. Remember to choose healthy calories, such as lean protein, whole grains, lots of veggies, and fruits. And keep up the great work with your exercise!! If you have additional weight loss advice questions, feel free to post them on free weight loss advice.

Kevin November 27, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I have struggled with my weight for the last 10 years now and I cannot take it anymore. I have put my body through enough and it is time for a change. At my max weight (a few months ago) at 273, my 5’5 frame could not bear the weight anymore. I have started working out and have lost almost 20 pounds. I am eating healthier and cleaner for the most part and going to the gym 5 days a week. I run a 5k everyday at the gym and have gone from 42 minutes to just over 31 minutes for the 5k. My ultimate goal is weight loss (down to 160-165 range) so what would be the best way to achieve this without starving myself? I generally have a protein bar for breakfast or eggs. I have a protein shake for lunch (after workout) and then a salad for dinner. Sometimes I will eat a heavier meal but not too heavy. I would really like to loose a minimum of 10-15 lbs a month so any methods would be helpful. I am only 29 so I want to make sure that I get to a healthy weight before my energy starts to decline. They say once you hit 30 your body begins to change in different ways related to health. Thank you.

Julie December 28, 2013 at 4:11 am

I’m 36 5’6 and weigh 250 I lost 60 lbs. last year on diet pills but gained it all back I want and need to lose weight I feel terrible think I’m getting depressed please help guide me where to start

Rebecca January 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm

Hi!! I am praying this finds you blessed!!
I am 51 years old. I have lost 86 lbs on a diet program that follows points. :)
I have been maintaining now for 2 1/2 years. Last year around Christmas I became ill. I could not workout, I was just so tired all the time. I hit a wall!! So the nurse told me to start eating protein. I had to do this for two weeks…Long story short I was not allowed to follow my diet program. I gained 10 lbs in all this mess. My body is a wreck. I so want to lose the 10 lbs again!! I do however think that my body is done with the point counting. Could I be right? My point program total is 22…..equals 50 calories a point. I keep a very strict food ledger. Exercise 60 min one day……30 the next, 5 days a week.
My husband feels like I am just not eating enough so it is holding on to everything.
I would appreciate any advice you could give me!
God Bless!!

raymond brasher January 11, 2014 at 12:49 am

Im 67, weight 215, 5’5″ my ldeal weight is 175. I walk 2 mile, 1hr. 4to6
a week. I started out at 225, a month ago, and thanking i could lose a lot of
weight i would cute calories ha! only to find out my weight was staying
the same & some times even gaining weight. So my question is how many
calories a day do i need, & how many a day do i need to lose, to get to my
ideal weight? ps: im not i a hurry.
thanks

Rudie January 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

Hi i am a first time mom whose son is now 1 and a half. Before my pregnancy i was 167 with a height of 5’3 since delivery my weight has creepingly reached 214 pounds with my height now 5’3. I want to go down to at least 151 which is a healthy BMI for my height. How many calories would i have to intake daily and lose if im on a 6 day workout plan and strict diet?

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 5:00 pm

Hi Kevin. Congratulations on your 20 pound weight loss! It sounds like you are eating healthy, exercising, and committed to a new healthy lifestyle. I agree with you that it is important that you not starve yourself (i.e. cut your calories too low). In order to make sure you aren’t sabotaging your metabolism with too little calories, I would keep a food diary and count your calories for a week or so. With your workout schedule, I would recommend not falling below 1,800 calories. Also, be sure to include all food groups in your eating plan: lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. You mentioned you eat a salad for dinner… aren’t you hungry after that? I would add some grilled chicken and another healthy side! The other thing I would keep in mind is that you will likely need to vary your workout routine in the near future to keep losing weight. Running is GREAT, but your body will get used to it after a while, and you won’t see the results you’ve been seeing. Be sure to add in some strength training and maybe some other forms of cardio as well. Keep up the great work, Kevin, and let us know how you are doing in the near future!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hi Julie! I’m so sorry for your roller coaster ride with diet pills last year. Please don’t be depressed, but do know that “quick” diet fixes will always fail in the end. Pills, injections, low-calorie diets, etc. will all help you lose weight fast, but aren’t sustainable in the long run. The only way to lose weight and KEEP IT OFF is to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly. So, I would start by keeping a food journal, which has been shown to help promote weight loss. I would make sure it eat 3 meals a day (no skipping meals!) that are well balanced. Make sure to include lean protein (meat, nuts, yogurt, low-fat cheese), whole grains, fruits, and lots of veggies. In addition, I would begin an exercise program, if you aren’t already doing so. Fast walking, running, swimming, biking, and strength training are all good choices. If you keep your calories around 1,800 and workout 4-5 days a week, you should start seeing results. By results, I mean losing a pound a week or so, not 4-5 pounds! Some people get frustrated with only losing 1 pound a week, but over the course of a year that is 52 pounds. And the best part is that you are MUCH more likely to keep it off that if you lose weight very quickly. So be patient, be consistent, and be happy knowing that you are going to lose weight the right way this time. Good luck, Julie!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:13 pm

Hi Rebecca! First of all, congratulations on your 86 pound weight loss! That is fantastic. The high-protein eating plan you went on when you were sick was likely very low calorie, which in turn probably negatively impacted your metabolism. I’ve seen this happen to a number of people, where they cut calories too low, and when they go off their diet, they end up GAINING weight in the end. It is super important to keep your calories at a reasonable amount, so your metabolism will not suffer. So, per your point program, I tend to agree with your husband – I think you may not be eating enough. 22 points x 50 calories a point = 1,100 calories. Unless you are very short, that is usually not enough calories to sustain your bodily functions. If you give me your height, goal weight, etc., I can try and be more specific on how many calories you should shoot for. However, it is very rare that I would ever recommend falling below 1,200 calories a day. There is nothing wrong with using a point system, but you will likely need to increase the number of points you have each day. Good luck and keep in touch!

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Hi Raymond. So, with a goal weight of 175 and a fairly sedentary lifestyle, you should shoot for 1,750 calories a day (on days you don’t exercise). Now, about your exercise – it sounds like you are walking 2 miles in 1 hour, which is a fairly leisurely pace. Do you think you might be able to pick it up just a little bit? When you are exercising, you don’t want to feel out of breath, but conversation should not be super easy. Maybe you can shoot for getting your 2 miles done in 50 min vs. a hour? Also, it would be great if you could work in some strength training, which will help build muscle, increase your metabolism, and help you lose weight. So, in terms of calories on days you exercise, I would add in another 100 calories. This should allow you to lose about 1 pound a week, which a good pace. I’m really glad you said that you are not in a hurry, because losing weight slowly is the way to win this race! Good luck Raymond, and keep in touch.

Cathy Parkes January 15, 2014 at 10:24 pm

Hi Rudie. Congratulations on being a mom! I am a mom of 2 kiddos myself. So, I think your goal weight of 151 is very reasonable. On days you don’t exercise, I would try and keep your calories around 1500-1600. On days you do workout, I would add in 1/2 the calories you burn. So, if you burn 250 calories working out, add in another 125 calories that day. Make sure your diet includes all the food groups – lean protein, whole grains, fruits, and veggies. Also, if you are able to take your baby for frequent walks in a stroller, that will also help! Good luck Rudie! I know you’ll do great!

alanna February 6, 2014 at 7:05 pm

Hi Cathy,

I currently use my fitness pal which is great. In a little less than a month I lost 4 pounds. My question is what is a good comfortable weight for my height and body type. I’m 5’3 and currently weigh 171. I know I’m overweight, but according to health charts it says I should be 115 pounds! I feel that’s unattainable considering I don’t think I ever was that weight. I would like to weigh 135-140 because although I’m short I have an athletic build with a big bust, so alot of my fat stores in my stomach. Your thoughts?

Cathy Parkes February 6, 2014 at 9:28 pm

Hi Alanna. I completely agree that 115 pounds is unreasonable for someone with an athletic build and a big bust. I think a goal weight around 135-140 would be perfect. If you look at a current BMI chart, you’ll find that the “normal” range for your height goes up to 140 pounds. Using an app such as “My fitness pal” or “Lose It” is great, so make sure to keep it up! I’ve seen A LOT of people have great success by tracking their eating and exercise using these programs. Sounds like you’ve got a reasonable goal, a good tracking application, and desire to get healthy! You are bound to succeed. Good luck, Alanna!

Jay March 17, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi there,

I am a 46 y/o female currently 129 lbs at 5’2″, small bone structure and body
fat at approx 32%. Even though my weight isn’t extreme, I want
to reduce my body fat percentage and take about 15 pounds off. When I calculate
my sedentary cals (I have a desk job), I end up at 1400 cals a day to maintain current weight. To lose a pound a week (hopefully fat not muscle), I would need to consume 900 calories which I have heard hinders the metabolism. What’s the answer? Can I eat 1100 cals and exercise away 200 a day to get to a net calorie goal of 900 or is this still considered starvation mode? How do short, petite women get rid of high body fat percentage without hurting their metabolism?

Carol Claugherty March 26, 2014 at 6:49 am

I am 63 and trying since Feb 1, 2014 to lose weight. I have been told to stay on A 1200 calorie a day diet and have done that along with working out daily for 2-months and have lost very little weight however inches have come off. I work out 5 times a week for 40 minutes a day either on the stationary bike but primarily on the treadmill walking and running for 40 minutes at 3.7 MPR…every morning I wake up to down 1 pound….up one pound . I do not eat snacks, sugar or fast food….HELP!

Cathy Parkes April 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Hi Carol! It sounds like your efforts have been somewhat successful, given that you have lost inches off your body. So, you shared that you don’t eat snacks, sugar, or fast food. I’d be curious what you ARE eating, and if you keep a food journal of some kind. Remember that if you go too LOW on your calories, you risk slowing down your metabolism. A sluggish metabolism is typically to blame when you aren’t losing weight, despite regular exercise and a low calorie intake. So, my advice would be to keep a food journal (if you aren’t already). Also, there is nothing wrong with eating snacks. If you go too long between meals, your metabolism suffers. So, make sure to keep it going strong with regular meals/snacks that contain lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates.

Cathy Parkes April 25, 2014 at 1:55 pm

Hi there! So, 900 calories is way too low, and going that low will definitely hurt your metabolism. Honestly, I wouldn’t drop down below 1200 calories a day. Given your sedentary job, I would really focus on trying to increase activity outside of work. In addition to regular exercise before or after work, I would try to squeeze in extra walking, stairs, etc. whenever possible. In terms of eating, I would stick with lean protein, whole-grain carbs, and LOTS of veggies and fruit. I always recommend keeping a food journal, since it typically highlights opportunities for improvement. It can help you see where you might be eating more calories than you think, or in some cases, less than you think. If you have a smartphone, I really like the “Lose It” app for this purpose. Good luck and keep in touch!

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