How to Lose Weight by Calorie Counting

Updated on September 20, 2017

Basic Weight Loss Principle

Before you even start trying to lose weight, you need to know a few important weight loss principles.

  1. One pound of body fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.
  2. To lose weight, calories in (food and drinks) must be less than calories out (burned). (You need a caloric deficit)

Calorie Counting

Calorie counting is all about the numbers.

  • The number of pound you want to lose.
  • The number of days you plan to lose it in.
  • The number of calorie deficit needed to lose the weight.
  • The number of calories you are eating.
  • The number of calories you are burning.
  • The number of calories you need.
  • The number of net calories you have consumed in a day.

Daily Calories Needed

Calories are needed for our survival. It is possible to not have enough calories. You cannot just starve yourself and expect to lose weight. If you do not eat enough, your body will shut down and you will not lose weight. Even if you slept all day long, your body would still burn calories to keep your body functioning. Just while sleeping, I burn around 53 calories per hour. So, if I slept all day I would still need 1272 calories to maintain my weight.

The General Rule is:

For women, your minimum caloric requirement is 1200 calories. For men, your minimum caloric requirement is 1500 calories.

Calorie Deficit Needed to Lose Weight

For every 3500 calories above what you need that you consume, you will typically gain one pound. So, it follows that to lose 1 pound of fat, you will need to burn 3500 calories more than you eat. You can create a caloric deficit by increasing your calories out or decreasing your calories in.

If your goal is to lose 1 pound per week, then your daily caloric deficit needs to be around 500. If your goal is to lose 100 pounds in a year, your daily caloric deficit needs to be around 960.

When deciding on your caloric deficit, you need to keep in mind the minimum amount of calories your body needs to function. Do not go below this.

The best rule to follow in creating your caloric deficit is to not make it larger that 20% or the calories needed to maintain your weight. This accounts for heavier people being able to lose more weight than lighter people. The 20% rule also keeps the weight loss slow and steady and more likely to stay gone. This is the healthiest rate of weight loss.

For Example:

If you are a 5 foot 5, 300 pound, 25 year old woman who is not active, you need 2,531 calories per day to maintain your weight. Therefore, you can safely reduce your calories to 2,025 and expect to lose 1.01 pounds per week.

If you are a 5 foot 5, 120 pound, 25 year old woman who is not active, you need 1550 calories per day to maintain your weight. Therefore, you can safely reduce your calories to 1240 and expect to lose 0.62 pounds per week.

Calorie Counting Tools

When your counting calories, you need to keep of calories in and calories out. For the most success, you need to be as accurate as possible. For calories in, you need to count every single thing you put into your body. For calories out, you can either use the numbers given for your particular activity level or track each and every activity you do. Most people over or underestimate their activity level, so I suggest tracking everything.

There are tons and tons of apps and websites to track your calories. But, some of the most popular are:

Calorie Counting Is not a Perfect Science

Don't get discouraged if you do not lose exactly the amount of weight that your calculations say you should be losing. The math isn't the only thing to consider in calorie counting. Sometimes, there are factors that you can't put into a perfect little equation. Sometimes your body just doesn't respond well. Stay focused and keep working at it and it will eventually pay off.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2013 Megan Dodd


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Learning in Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Dodd 

      7 years ago from Florida

      alcosin - I've always had a thing for Calorie Count. But they seem to be a lot alike.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      7 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Sensible advice and here's a vote for MyFitnessPal, which I think is the best of the free calorie websites. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • Learning in Life profile imageAUTHOR

      Megan Dodd 

      7 years ago from Florida

      Thanks for the tip. I'll will do that.

    • Dr. Ben Griffes profile image

      Dr. Ben Griffes 

      7 years ago from Southern California

      Great job explaining the "calorie in - calorie out" principle. I have found it useful, however, to reread and edit my writing :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)