How Many Calories Per Day to Lose Weight?

by Sarah
(Nanaimo, BC Canada)

Am I the exception to the rule?

I am wondering how many calories I should be eating to lose weight. I did your calculator and it says that I should be eating 3800 kcal to maintain what I am now, and therefore to lose 1 lb a week I need to eat 500 calories less than this. But that seems like an incredible amount of food!!

I am a 32 year old female. I am 5'7 and weigh 250 lbs. I have been heavy since I was 20 years old. I started gaining weight (despite reasonable food and activity) for no medical reason that my doctor could tell me. Fast forward 8 years, I had two children in two years and my new doctor tells me that I have Hashimoto's Thyroiditis and I am now on Synthroid. Since the birth of my second child 2.5 years ago....I can't lose a pound to save me life!

Currently I am consuming 1800 calories per day. I don't eat after 7pm. I ride my bike to work each day (5 days a week - 15 min total trip with moderate effort) and I go to the gym 3 days a week for 20 min high intensity interval training and then 60 min weight training. I have been doing this for 4 months...and the scale hasn't budged!! The only clothing that has changed is that I went down 2 bra cup sizes. My butt and thighs and waist are the same! Frustration! But I am determined!! I did have fat pinch testing done with calipers (and a trained professional) at the start of my training and I was 30.1% fat. Currently I am 23.7% fat. But again, the scale hasn't budged!!! And my shape isn't really changing.

I came across your website in a frantic search for some answers and I really love your common sense approach and your templates. I track all my food eaten already. I am thinking of going to your 1500 calorie menu and dragging out my measuring implements again to double check my portions.

Oh! 1 more thing! I love that you have no dairy in your plans! I have a dairy, soy, gluten intolerance. It's tricky to navigate but it's pretty much forced me to eat everything from scratch and avoid fast food for the past 15 years of my life when I was diagnosed.

Thank you so much for your wonderful website and thank you in advance for considering my questions.


Thanks for visiting the website. As you know all the information and tools you need to lose weight can be found in the free weight loss help section of the site.

Regarding the calories calculator: Use an "ideal weight" vs. "actual weight" in the calculator.

See this height/weight chart to determine ideal weight.

I entered your height and age and used 135 pounds and the calculator said 2300 calories per day to maintain weight. So eating 1800 calories a day to lose weight is appropriate for you.

Activity levels are usually over predicted in these types of formulas, so if you pick a "lesser" activity level when you input your height, age, and 135 pounds, the calculator predicts 2000 calories/day. Therefore 1500 calories/day to lose weight is appropriate.

That's a long way of saying 1500-1800 calories per day is a good range for you to aim for!

I don't think you're an "exception to the rule." It sounds like you are losing body fat and inches even though you don't see numbers moving on the scale, so this suggests something is working right!

I'd suggest stepping up the cardio a bit if you want to get things rolling along a bit faster.

You're only averaging about 2.25 hours cardio/wk:

  • 3 days x 20 minutes cardio at the gym = 1 hour

  • biking to work 5 x week at 15 minutes total round trip = 1.25 hours

It's recommended to move 1 hour per day!

The weight training is good...keep it up! It burns fewer calories than cardio, but it's an important piece in the weight loss puzzle.

It's not a bad idea to make sure the Synthroid is properly adjusted too.

I think weighing/measuring food for a while and keeping a food diary are very good ideas. Glad you're liking the sample menus. :)

Keep us updated!


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