If you’re looking for scientifically proven ways to start losing weight right now, your first order of business is to answer the question: How many calories should I eat to lose weight? ‘A good guideline is 2,000 calories per day for adults,’ says Scott Kahan, MD, MPH, the director of the National Center for Weight and Wellness in Washington, D.C. But the best way to get an accurate picture of how many calories you need to maintain or lose weight is to plug your numbers into a Basal Metabolic Rate calculator. ‘You enter your height, weight, gender, and age, and based on these four variables, the calculator will tell you what your daily calorie burn is,’ he says. This number refers to how many calories you burn by doing absolutely nothing for 24 hours—and represents the minimal amount of energy (i.e. calories) you need in order to function. To answer your question, ‘how many calories should I eat to lose weight?’ estimate how many calories you burn with exercise and add it on, then subtract 500 calories from the total number to determine how many calories you need to cut out to start shedding pounds.
Counting calories to lose weight has fallen out of vogue, with many diets instead focusing instead on eliminating or drastically reducing carbs or unhealthy fats, but that doesn’t mean counting calories can’t help you achieve your weight-loss goals. If you’ve got your calorie calculator at the ready, here’s how to keep it real.