How many calories per day for a woman to lose weight?

Updated April 17, 2017

Women need to take their gender into consideration when pondering weight loss. They cannot consume the same number of calories as men and expect to lose weight. This is because women are generally smaller than men and have less muscle mass. Women also need to consider their age, activity level and amount of lean body mass to be successful.

Calorie needs

The first thing you must do to determine how many calories you should consume per day is to figure out your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the number of calories your body needs to perform essential functions such as digesting food, regulating temperature, breathing, building cells and other metabolic processes. It's easy to find a BMR calculator online that will figure out this number for you.

When physical activity is taken into consideration, an average woman requires about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight. Or, like Martha McKittrick, RD, CDN, CDE, likes to view it, "A typical woman can calculate her daily caloric needs by taking 50 per cent of whatever her BMR is and adding it on to her BMR." In other words, if your BMR is 1.500, your daily caloric needs would be 2.250. She adds that a more accurate way would be to calculate your needs using a calorie counter.

Generally, the older you are, the fewer calories you will burn, as the body starts to lose muscle around age 30. The more lean body mass--muscle--you have, the higher your BMR. This means that very athletic women in their 50s could have a BMR that is as high as a woman of 25.

If you work out frequently and hard or have a physically demanding job such as working in construction, your caloric needs will be much higher than a woman who works a desk job. Also, if you are very tall and heavy, you will need a lot more calories than a petite woman who weighs 45 kilograms (100 pounds). Last, keep in mind that genetics plays a part in caloric needs. Some women are more genetically inclined to lose weight fast.


Decide how fast you want to lose weight. If you want to lose 0.45 kg (1 pound) per week, you need to consume 500 calories less per day or burn 500 calories more than normal per day, as a pound of fat is 3,500 calories. If you want to lose 1.35 kg (3 pounds) of fat per week, your body must burn 1,500 additional calories per day. As you can tell, trying to lose 1.35 kg (3 pounds) per week is much harder than losing 0.4 kg (1 pound). For effective weight loss, it is recommended that you try to lose no more than 0.907 Kilogram per week and that you exercise in addition to cutting calories.

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About the Author

Julia Derek is a certified Manhattan-based trainer and writer. She has 14 years experience in the fitness industry. She works at Reebok Sports Club/NY or through her company Her writing has appeared in New York Post, Los Angeles Daily News, and AM/NY. She attended George Mason University.