How many calories per day are allowed to lose weight?

Updated July 19, 2017

In order to lose weight, a person must expend more calories each day than they take in. This will cause the body to burn the calories which have been stored in fat cells, which will in turn cause the person to lose weight. Knowing how many calories a day you should eat and burn will allow you to make realistic goals for your weight loss journey.

The Numbers

One pound is equal to about 3,500 calories. Even though the average person expends around 2,000 calories a day through regular activities and bodily functions, many people consume more than 2,000 calories a day, giving their body more than it needs, and causing the body to store the extra calories as fat in the abdomen and other places. To safely lose 0.454 to 0.907 Kilogram a week, you should eat 500 to 1,000 calories less a day than you expend, either by eating less or exercising more, or doing both.

Eating Less

Technically, you don't have to eat less food in order to lose weight, just fewer calories. This can be accomplished by eating low-calorie or no-calorie foods. Many foods that you eat regularly, such as cheese, mayonnaise, sodas and snacks, have low-calorie versions, or can be substituted with healthier, lower-calorie choices such as fruits, vegetables, and water. Don't forbid yourself from eating the foods you love, but cut down on how much and how often you eat them, so that you only eat about 1,500 calories a day if you are not exercising.

Exercising More

You should seriously consider making daily exercise a part of your weight loss plan. Not only will exercising cause you to burn more calories each day, speeding up your weight loss, but it will also allow you to eat a little more if cutting down your diet proves challenging to you. Since you normally burn 2,000 calories a day, exercise may cause you to burn 2,200 calories a day, meaning that instead of eating 1,500 calories you can eat 1,700 and still expect to lose a pound a week.


While 2,000 calories is the estimated caloric intake for the average person, the majority of us are not average. A more accurate estimate of how many calories you burn in a day can be found by visiting the Centers for Disease Control website. By getting a better idea of how many calories you already burn in a day, you can make a more accurate decision on how many calories to eat and burn, depending on your weight loss goals.


By keeping track of how many calories you expend in a day, and being sure to eat 500 calories less each day than you expend, you can expect to lose one pound a week. Eating 1,000 calories less a day than you expend can result in losing 0.907 Kilogram a week. Please do not try to lose more than two pounds a week; not only is it dangerous to your health, but losing weight too quickly often results in gaining the weight right back soon after reaching a weight loss goal.

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About the Author

Shannon Burton is a high school teacher. She has been writing articles about fitness, health, technology and education since 2007 and has been published on many websites. Burton holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of the Virgin Islands.