One of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to weight management and dieting is “How many calories should I eat to lose weight?”
I love this question… This question highlights how complex and spectacularly individual we are!
Even though people expect definite answers, the solution is not that simple! There are many factors to look at when identifying the number of calories that you (individually) have to consume daily. And yet, you cannot guarantee that the weight loss results will be immediate and breathtaking, simply because they depend on overall health condition, hormones, nutrition, physical activity, etc.
This article will guide you through the main factors to look at when identifying how many calories to consume in order to lose weight!
Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
How many calories to consume daily?
The main rule, in this case, is to consume fewer calories than you burn (use for energy). Or in other words, entering a calorie deficit (burn more calories than you eat) can help you to burn excess fat. The reason for this is the fact that your body requires a “certain” amount of calories to function properly, and when you give less than its requirement, it starts using its backup resources (stored fat). 
Alternatively, eating more calories than needed may stimulate the body to store the excess calories (and you gain weight); eating the exact amount of calories your body requires leads to no changes in terms of storing fat.
That being said, this is a general rule that does not take into account any chronic health conditions, hormonal imbalances and diet quality, which, in reality, have a major impact on weight loss results.
But what does your body require? That is not included in the main rule and depends on your physical characteristics and lifestyle! 
What is the recommended daily calorie intake?
There are “overall guidelines” on how much calories you should eat to maintain and lose weight. However, take them with a pinch of salt because each individual has a unique body, which doesn’t burn exact calories!
The three factors to look at are age, sex, weight.
According to the NHS, the recommended calorie intake for women is 2000 calories/day and for men 2500 calories/day. In that sense, consuming less than 2000/2500 calories is supposed to have an effect on your weight.
Nonetheless, those numbers don’t take into account how physically active you are, if you are at growing age, or if your body needs more/fewer calories because of its current weight.
How to enter calorie deficit?
Taking the recommended daily calorie intake as a baseline, you can roughly estimate how many calories you need to eat in order to lose weight. But you should take into consideration the following factors:
Resting metabolic rate (RMR)
As the calories represent the energy we consume and then burn, the RMR shows the amount of energy (calories) our body requires in resting position to function properly. Surprisingly or not, it accounts for the largest portion of our total energy (calorie) needs during the day. 
According to various sources, RMR accounts for about 60-75% of all daily energy expenditure. Or on average, 1400 burned calories for women and 1600 for men. 
The RMR converts calories into energy to support body temperature, breathing, organ function, fluid and blood circulation, etc.
When the RMR is normal or high, you easily burn calories compared to slow RMR when your body transforms calories into energy more slowly (and you are predisposed to storing more fat). Often the rate is influenced by external health factors such as hormonal imbalance or intake of medications, as those usually have a slowing effect.
Very active people such as athletes, construction workers, and farmers burn more calories throughout the day, as they use a lot of energy for their job. As a result, those people naturally need to consume more calories in order to balance their weight.
Or alternatively, if you are a very active person who wants to lose weight, you have to carefully calculate the energy you spend on a daily basis (from both RMR and physical activities). This way, you’d be aware of the line between lose, gain, and maintain weight.
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During the lifecycle, there are several stages that should be taken into consideration when estimating calorie expenditure.
Kids have high RMR and may burn large amounts of calories (as % to their normal intake) because they are active and, at the same time, grow in height and develop (growth requires additional energy intake).
In comparison, teenagers from 12 to 16 years old usually have a significant decrease in their RMR. According to a piece of research, they may burn about 500 fewer calories while resting compared to individuals at the age of below 10 and above 17. 
However, due to the fast development and adoption of smart technologies, mobile devices, as well as social media platforms and video games, a large number of school children spend more time on screen activities than outdoor activities. That being said, a 2018 study suggests that kids that exceed the guidelines for screen time may be predisposed to poor fitness, obesity, increased caloric intake, and low RMR. 
Besides, as we age, our RMR can decrease, which means that it becomes more difficult to lose weight, and we have to apply more significant calorie restrictions. 
There is no straightforward answer when it comes to defining a calorie deficit. All kinds of calorie restrictions should be very tailored to each person’s characteristics and needs, and if the “calculation” is incorrect, that can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health, and overall well being.
For that reason, it’s crucial to consult your weight goals with a dietitian or health care provider, who can help you to create a beneficial and health-supporting calorie intake plan.