How to I determine how many calories I need to eat to lose 85 pounds? I weigh 285 pounds. According to the formula 13 x 200, I would need to eat 2600 calories to maintain a 200 pound weight. So if I begin this diet and maintain it over time, will I get to 200 pounds? Or do I have to reduce my weight first by some other means before I start to maintain my 200 pound weight goal? Jerome H. [via Ask Questions]
To figure out how many calories you need, you might want to read the How Many Calories Do I Need to Eat to Lose Weight? post. But to answer your question, I do not think you need to use the formula. First, write down everything you eat for one week. Second, use the USDA Nutrient Database to calculate your daily calorie intake. Third, let’s assume that according to your calculations, your daily calorie intake is 3,000 calories. This is your baseline, your starting point. In other words, you do not lose or gain any weight when you consume 3,000 calories every day.
All you need to do to start losing weight is to reduce your daily calorie consumption by a certain amount of calories. By how many calories? That is the tricky part. Any weight-loss formula is based on general assumptions, which makes it inherently inaccurate. Instead of using formulas, start by deducting 300 calories from your baseline number of calories. Consume 2,700 calories for at least two weeks. Check your weight. If you lost weight, great. If not, deduct 200 more calories. Consume 2,500 calories for another week. Check your weight.
The point is, just like you need to find your baseline number, you need to find the number that tilts the balance toward weight loss. This number represents how many daily calories it takes for you to create an energy deficit. As you lose weight, you will need to make adjustments by slightly reducing how much you eat, but you should never drop your daily calorie consumption too low. I think most people should stay above 1,300 daily calories.