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How Many Calories to Lose Weight?

The calories to lose weight are different for every person. They depend on age, activity level, muscle mass, and current weight. The ideal calorie intake for weight loss can even change depending on the time of day we eat. For example, people who eat breakfast can eat more total calories during the day, yet they still lose more weight than breakfast skippers.


How do scientists know how many calories are in our food? And how do calories compare to the kilojoules we often see on labels? Here is a quick answer to the question: exactly what is a calorie?

Most people on a whole food vegan diet do not count calories to lose weight. Their fat melts away because they eat the right foods. However, it is good to know your personal daily calorie requirement. Use this calculator to learn the calories to maintain weight and your recommended calorie intake for weight loss.

The recommended calories to lose weight don't leave any room for junk food. Spend your calories wisely on high nutrient plant foods and don't add oil to your food. Check out the calories in one pound of body fat compared to the calories in oil, and learn the right way to lose a pound.

It is important that we eat enough calories to maintain our vital organs and bodily functions. Weight loss experts say that to figure out our personal calorie intake to lose weight, we should use these three steps:
  1. Determine our ideal weight. See our healthy weight chart to learn the ideal weight range for your height and gender.

  2. Determine the minimum number of calories we need to maintain good health. This is at least 10 calories per pound of our ideal weight. Small adults whose ideal weight is less than 120 should not go below 1200 calories to lose weight.

  3. Ideal Weight in Pounds Lowest Calorie Intake Per Day
    100 1200
    110 1200
    120 1200
    130 1300
    140 1400
    150 1500
    160 1600
    170 1700
    180 1800
    190 1900
    200 2000
    210 2100
    220 2200
    230 2300

  4. If you are losing more than 2 pounds per week, increase your calories to lose weight more slowly.

Body Mass Index

We based our healthy weight chart on the Body Mass Index, or BMI. Governments and health professionals around the world use BMI numbers to determine obesity levels in individuals and populations. Here is the BMI formula and the BMI weight categories so you can calculate your own BMI.

If your BMI falls in the overweight or obese range, it can be harmful to your health.  Follow a whole food vegan diet and you can bring your BMI into the normal range without going hungry.

Weight loss without hunger

The reason most people fail at dieting is because they are unable to fight their hunger drive for very long. They cut calories to lose weight and they are miserable. It doesn't have to be that way. These are the things you must do to avoid being hungry all the time.

As we saw above, to lose weight we must reduce our calorie intake. However, it is nearly impossible to lose weight by just eating smaller portions of our usual foods. Why? Because we don't understand the science behind the calories we eat. Don't miss this important information on the calorie content of foods. It will change the way you look at food.

To lose weight, we need to omit most high calorie foods from our diet. We will just eat small amounts of a few others. Here we explain how to identify the high calorie foods that can wreck our vegan weight loss plan.

When we cut calories but still eat high calorie foods, we are not satisfied. Our stomachs are not full and we are also lacking important nutrients. We get so hungry that we overeat or binge. Many dieters want to know how to stop binge eating

Binge eating is not a sign of weak will power. It is the body's natural response when we restrict calories to lose weight and still eat high calorie foods. Is it possible to reduce our calorie intake without getting hungry and binge eating? Yes! And most people can do it without counting calories. We just need to center our diet on low calorie foods like these.

To lose weight on a vegan diet, we must eat whole unprocessed plant foods.
See this chart for a list of the calories in vegetables.

Here is a chart that shows the calories in fruit.

Here we list the calories in beans, peas, lentils, and traditional soy foods.

This chart compares the calories in different types of grain and pasta.

Eat some mushrooms on a regular basis, because they strengthen your immune system. Use a few high calorie foods like nuts and seeds to add flavor to create creamy dressings and sauces. If you carefully limit these rich foods, you probably won't have to count calories to lose weight.

Calorie restriction diet

Even on a whole food vegan diet, a few people find it difficult to lose weight. We are not big fans of calorie counting. However, you may want to track your food and calorie intake for a while to make sure you are:

  1. Eating enough calories and not too many

  2. Getting all the nutrients you need

There are several online diet-tracking sites. We prefer the simple free software called CRON-o-meter. You can download it to your computer and it is easy to use. Foods are measured in grams, so set your digital scale to grams instead of ounces. Decide your desired calories to lose weight, and set the energy goal to that number.

You can learn a lot about nutrition by using this little tool. You will see that it is easy to get enough protein. You will see that vegetables and fruits are loaded with vitamins and minerals. The more green vegetables you eat, the higher your nutrient levels. A 5-ounce serving of beans a day adds valuable nutrients. A big serving of whole grains provides B vitamins.

If your selenium is low, eat one brazil nut. If vitamin E is low, 25 grams of sunflower seeds will bring it up. Tofu, dark leafy greens, tahini, and broccoli are great calcium sources. Keep your omega 6 to 3 ratio at no greater than 4:1. One Tbsp of ground flax seed will get you there if you keep your other fats low.

You can change the nutrient requirements in the software if you like. Disable to B12 report (but take a B12 supplement.) We disabled the vitamin D report, and we reduced the calcium minimum to 600 mg. We reduced the minimum sodium to 100 mg. We set the protein requirement to 10% and the fat to 10%. It's your choice. Have fun with it.

A calorie restriction diet with optimal nutrition (that is what CRON stands for) has one amazing benefit. It extends lifespan in every animal that has ever been tested. More than likely it does the same for humans. You can restrict calories to lose weight, and live longer too!

The dreaded dieting plateau

As you lose weight, you may reach a point where you are stuck at one weight for weeks or even months. This dieting plateau, or weight plateau, is a natural response to decreased calorie intake. Your body senses a famine situation and reduces the calories you burn to help you survive.

This weight loss plateau will also happen as you approach your ideal weight. You are smaller than you used to be and you don't need as many calories each day. At this point you could increase your exercise level a bit. Or slightly reduce your calories to lose weight again. Or maybe your new weight is fine. Just continue to follow a healthy vegan diet.

But if you want to get off the plateau, there is one more option to try. The last tool in our weight loss tool box is a technique that has little or no hard science to back it up. However, anecdotal reports say that it works, and it won't hurt you. It is called calorie cycling. You will need to do a little math and to faithfully use your CRON-o-meter.

Here is the theory:

Since your body goes into famine mode when you eat fewer calories than you need every day, do something to convince your body that there is plenty of food available. Eat larger amounts on some days and smaller amounts on others. Eat more on the days you exercise heavily and less on quieter days.

Important: the total calorie intake for the week should be the same as before. You just distribute your calories to lose weight more effectively. And don't decrease your calories by more than 200 - 300 calories on the "less food" days. You still need energy and nutrients to run your body.

You must make a plan and track your food intake carefully. Use your CRON-o-meter to keep your nutrient levels as high as possible. That should keep you from being hungry on your low calorie days. If it sounds like too big a hassle, we totally understand. But there are some people who have the desire and discipline to do it. Go for it!

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