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Based on my height, weight, age, exercise levels, how many calories should I be consuming daily to lose a healthy amount of weight each week/month?

I have been to about 5 difference sites and have used their calculators, which all seem to return different results ranging from 1500 to 2000 calories a day.

For example, based on http://caloriecount.about.com/ I should be consuming 1525 calories a day.

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1 Answer

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Until you get tested to find your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), all those calculators can do is give you an approximation of what you need to eat. The BMR is a measure of how many calories your body burns while you are being a slug on a couch--doing nothing.

The calculators are using a formula that is based on some assumptions on what a typical person your size, height, etc. would have for a BMR. It's usually within a couple hundred calories, but I've had them estimate high.

Measuring the BMR usually involves measuring the air your body breaths while under a level of stress--such as the treadmill machine. Many gyms will offer it as a service, but you might have your doctor figure it out.

After you have the BMR, the rest is easy. If you consume fewer calories than you burn, you'll lose weight. Just a couple words of advice:

  • You need a certain amount of protein to protect your muscles--which in turn burn more fat.
  • If you need to cut parts of your diet to hit your target calories, don't sacrifice protein. Many women are protein deficient (based on observations from my wellness center)
  • You need to burn 3500 calories to lose 1 pound of fat. That also means you need to consume 3500 in excess of your BMR to gain a pound.
  • To lose 1 lb per week, you should consume 500 calories less than your BMR.
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