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Isn't that what we all want to know -- exactly how many calories will make us lose weight, magically and forever? But... * Is that the number of calories you should eat, or the number you should cut out? * How many calories for how much weight? * Does it depend on your body shape/genes/lifestyle/metabolism? * How many calories a day/week/hour? Confusing isn't it? Let's take the questions one at a time. First, you can choose whether to work out how many calories you need to eat or you can decide how many calories to trim from your normal eating pattern. All it means is finding a way to the right number of calories (or kcal) for your needs right now. Second, you need to decide how much weight you want to lose -- but be sensible, no one wants to see your skeleton while you're still wearing it. As a good start, aim to lose a pound or two a week, but not more than that or you'll just be losing water and muscle instead of fat. Human fat contains about 3500 kcal per pound, so to lose a pound a week you should use up 500 kcal more a day than you eat. Third, yes and no. Your body shape / genes / lifestyle / metabolism will all have some effect on how easily you tend to gain or lose weight. But the most important of these is lifestyle. For example, an Olympic athlete will burn calories faster than someone who sits in a chair all day. And a person who eats a balanced diet will not put on weight as quickly as someone who gets every meal from a fast-food outlet. Fourth, the usual recommendations for daily calorie intake are 2000 kcal for women and 2500 kcal for men. If you are particularly short / tall / fine-boned / muscular / active / sedentary your calorie needs could easily be very different. You can calculate the exact number of calories you require by multiplying your resting metabolic rate with your activity factor. For example, a 6 ft-tall bricklayer might need 3700 kcal while a 5 ft-tall housebound person may only use 1400 kcal. To summarise how many calories to lose weight are required, it comes back to the old -- but true -saying 'eat less, do more'. In this case less really is more: less calorie intake, more weight loss --

although that doesn't mean you have to starve yourself. Just watch portion sizes and be a bit more active! Most of us love to eat, that's human nature. But it's what we're eating that can make all the difference, small changes in our eating patterns really can transform our figures! And just as a final thought - did you know that you could lose 36 days from your lifespan for every 11 pounds of excess fat you have? There's an incentive for healthier eating!

Eleanor Knowles 2008 For loads more details of how to lose weight sensibly and keep it off, including how to work out your own personal calorie requirement, and enjoy eating, go to

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how many calories should i eat to lose weight  

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