How Many Calories Do You Need Each Day?

tina-haupert

By Tina Haupert

On my personal blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake, I frequently receive questions about the number of calories I consumed when I was trying to lose weight, and my readers are usually surprised when they hear my answer.

Currently and while losing weight, I typically consume 1,800 to 2,200 calories each day.

This might sound like a lot of calories, compared to some of the 1,500-calorie plans you hear about, but finding my Feel Great Weight wasn’t a short-term diet just to shed pounds. The healthy habits that I developed during this time were permanent lifestyle changes, so I knew that drastically reducing my daily calorie count would leave me hungry—and miserable.

I love to eat, but I wanted to lose weight, too, which meant I needed to figure out how many calories would satisfy me, but at the same time help me consistently lose weight week after week. I had no idea how many calories I should consume. I knew I needed to reduce my calorie intake, but I didn’t know by how much or where to start. I also wanted to find a realistic daily caloric goal that I could live with every day. I used an online calculator, which recommended how many calories to aim for each day in order to lose about half a pound a week.

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Once I had an idea how much I should eat each day, I began to measure my portions and record what I ate using a free online weight-loss tool. After tracking my calories for a few days, I was shocked to discover that I consumed close to 3,000 calories each day! No wonder I gained weight! Clearly, my body didn’t need so many calories. I guess I wasn’t totally surprised—I mean, I was drinking beer and eating nachos multiple times per week—but the numbers laid it all out there in black and white. There were no questions about it. I needed to consume fewer calories and exercise more if I wanted to lose weight.

When I reduced my daily amount to 1,800 to 2,200 calories and started to exercise more frequently, the weight came off—slowly, but surely. It took me a solid year to lose a little more than 20 pounds, but I’ve maintained my weight for nearly seven years now. I no longer track my calories on a daily basis, but I continue to consume around the same amount each day. (I tracked calories religiously for a few years, so I have a pretty good idea what this range looks like!) Of course, there are the occasional days that fall outside my 1,800 to 2,200 range, but losing weight and maintaining it is all about consistency.

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