How Many Calories Should You Burn a Day to Lose Weight?
September 18, 2022
Calories are usually a primary concern when trying to lose weight. This is quite legitimate since this caloric intake is directly responsible for the gain or, conversely, for the loss of weight.
Our explanations are to learn how to calculate your energy needs and know how many calories you should eat per day to lose weight.
In this article, we will share with you everything we know about diet and weight loss, to understand how many calories should you burn a day to lose weight.
Factors That Influence Calorie Burning
Before we dive into how many calories you should burn a day to lose weight, let’s take a look at the factors that can influence calorie burning. These include:
Age: As you get older, your metabolism slows down, which means you burn fewer calories at rest.
Gender: Men typically have more muscle mass than women, which means they burn more calories at rest.
Body size: The larger your body, the more calories you burn at rest.
Activity level: The more active you are, the more calories you burn.
Diet: The types of diets you follow can influence your metabolism and how many calories you burn at rest.
Health conditions: Certain health conditions, such as hypothyroidism, can slow down your metabolism and make it harder to lose weight.
Calories Should You Burn a Day to Lose Weight
To know how many calories you need daily, you will need to estimate your energy needs. The good news, certain scientific methods, and calculations make it possible to fairly accurately estimate your daily energy needs.
It is essential to calculate your basal metabolic rate. That is to say the minimum amount of energy needed by your body at rest to ensure its vital functions: digestion, posture, functioning of organs, maintenance of body temperature, etc.
Here is the Harris and Benedict formula used to calculate basal metabolic rate:
For the man = [13.7516 x Weight (in kg)] + [500.33 x Height (in m)] – (6.7550 x Age) + 66.473
For women: [9.5634 x Weight (in kg)] + [184.96 x Height (in m)] – (4.6756 x Age) + 655.0955
For example, for a 35-year-old woman measuring 1.60 m and weighing 58 kg, we obtain a basal metabolic rate of:
554.6772 + 295.935 – 163.646 + 655.0955 = 1342
To meet her basic needs, this woman will then need 1342 kcal per day.
Physical activity level
To calculate how many calories per day are needed by the body, it is also necessary to take into account the level of physical activity.
Indeed, in addition to ensuring its vital needs, the body spends additional calories related to daily activity. The basal metabolic rate estimated above must therefore be multiplied by a coefficient corresponding to the level of daily activity.
Physical activity level
Light physical activity
Moderate physical activity
Intense physical activity
Very intense physical activity
Let’s take the example of our 35-year-old woman. If his daily physical activity is moderate, his basal metabolic rate will have to be multiplied by 1.55 to obtain his daily calorie requirement, i.e. 2080 kcal.
Total energy requirement
Thanks to the previous calculations, we obtained an appreciation of the total energy requirement. In our example, it is 2080 kcal. That is, by consuming 2080 kcal per day, this woman will not gain or lose weight.
Note, however, that this calculation has some limitations. To know your needs as precisely as possible, it is recommended to consult a nutrition professional. Only he will know how to adapt this calculation according to your organization and its specific needs.
Example of a calorie-controlled menu
In practice, here is an example of a typical calorie-controlled menu for healthy weight loss. To build it, we took the example of our 35-year-old woman whose daily calorie requirement is 2080 kcal. Depending on your specific needs and your level of physical activity, this basic menu will have to be adapted.
1 green tea 150 ml vegetable milk 40g nut muesli 100 g compote without added sugar
150 g of raw vegetables 100g poultry 200 g of green vegetables in olive oil 30 g wholemeal bread 1 fresh fruit
15 g of oilseeds 100 g cottage cheese with honey
200ml vegetable soup 100 g of white fish 120g cooked whole starch 30g of cheese 1 fresh fruit
The Right Number of Calories Per Day to Lose Weight
When it comes to weight loss, it’s all about the scales. Calculating the right number of calories per day needed to lose weight is an essential step.
Here are the 3 possible situations:
The energy intake is equal to the energy requirement: the weight remains stable;
The energy intake is lower than the energy requirement: there is weight loss;
The energy intake is greater than the energy requirement: there is weight gain.
To lose weight, it is considered that it is necessary to induce an energy deficit of the order of 10 to 15% of the total energy requirement. In our example, it will then be necessary to consume less than 1870 kcal per day for significant weight loss.
Be careful, the energy deficit should not be too great at the risk of causing nutritional deficiencies and harmful adaptation mechanisms. Indeed, below a certain number of calories, the body protects itself by saving its energy and storing more calories ingested. Consequence: weight loss becomes more and more difficult and the yo-yo effect is inevitable.
Calculating calories to lose weight is not enough
Calculating calories to lose weight is never enough. In practice, the body not only ingests calories but above all nutrients. Caloric restriction is useless if the diet does not promote the consumption of nutrients essential to the functioning of the body. Indeed, 50 kcal of chocolate biscuits and 50 kcal of apples are equivalent to a caloric level but not on a nutritional level.
The protein, fat, and carbohydrate content of the diet, as well as micronutrients, is essential to maintain a good balance and promoting healthy and lasting weight loss.
The Best Ways to Burn Calories
Now that you know how many calories you need to burn a day to lose weight, let’s take a look at the best ways to achieve this goal:
1. High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is an effective way to burn calories in a shorter amount of time. HIIT is a workout that involves short bursts of intense exercise followed by periods of rest. These intervals can be as short as 20 seconds or as long as 2 minutes. This type of workout can increase your heart rate, which can help you burn more calories during and after the workout.
HIIT workouts can be done with bodyweight exercises or with weights. For example, a simple HIIT workout could include 30 seconds of jumping jacks, followed by 30 seconds of rest, then 30 seconds of squats, followed by 30 seconds of rest. Repeat this circuit for 20-30 minutes to get a great calorie-burning workout.
Running is one of the most popular ways to burn calories. Running can be done almost anywhere and is a great way to improve cardiovascular health. Depending on your weight and pace, you can burn upwards of 100 calories per mile. Running can also be a great way to relieve stress and improve mental health.
To maximize your calorie burn while running, try incorporating interval training into your runs. This could include sprinting for 30 seconds, then jogging for 90 seconds, then repeating for a set amount of time.
Cycling is a low-impact exercise that can burn a lot of calories. Depending on your intensity level, you can burn between 400-800 calories per hour. Cycling can be done indoors on a stationary bike or outdoors on a road or trail. Cycling is also a great way to improve cardiovascular health and build leg muscles.
To burn the most calories while cycling, try incorporating hill intervals into your ride. This could include riding up a hill as fast as you can, then riding down at a slower pace to recover.
To maximize your calorie burn while swimming, try incorporating interval training into your workout. This could include swimming as fast as you can for 30 seconds, then swimming at a slower pace to recover for 60 seconds, then repeating for a set amount of time.
5. Strength Training
Strength training is an important part of any weight loss plan. While strength training may not burn as many calories as cardio exercises, it’s still an effective way to increase your metabolism and burn more calories throughout the day. Strength training also helps build muscle, which can give you a toned and lean appearance.
To maximize your calorie burn while strength training, try incorporating supersets into your workout. This could include doing a set of squats, then immediately doing a set of push-ups, then resting for 30 seconds before repeating.
Walking is a low-impact exercise that’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine. While it may not burn as many calories as some other exercises on this list, it’s a great option for people who are just starting out or who have mobility issues. Walking is also a great way to improve cardiovascular health and relieve stress.
To maximize your calorie burn while walking, there are a few strategies that you can employ. One effective method is to increase your pace. Walking at a faster pace requires more energy and therefore burns more calories. Aim to walk at a pace that is slightly challenging but still comfortable for you. As you become more fit, you can gradually increase your pace to continue challenging yourself.
The bottom line
Understanding how many calories you should burn a day to lose weight is an important step in achieving your weight loss goals. By creating a caloric deficit through a combination of diet and exercise, you can effectively lose weight while maintaining muscle mass and overall health.
While there is no one-size-fits-all answer to how many calories you should burn a day, there are various factors to consider such as age, gender, weight, height, and activity level. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to determine a safe and effective calorie deficit for your specific needs.
Incorporating both cardio and strength training into your exercise routine can help increase your calorie burn and improve overall fitness. Additionally, making small changes to your diet such as reducing portion sizes and incorporating more whole, nutrient-dense foods can support weight loss efforts.
Remember, sustainable weight loss takes time and effort. It is important to approach weight loss in a healthy and realistic manner to achieve long-term success.
Overall, by prioritizing a healthy lifestyle and creating a caloric deficit through diet and exercise, you can successfully lose weight and improve your overall health and well-being.