Women generally require fewer calories for weight loss than men.
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Calorie requirements for weight loss generally range from 1, 000 to 1, 600 calories a day for women and 1, 200 to 1, 600 calories daily for men, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In general, 1, 500-calorie plans are more appropriate for men, while 1, 200-calorie diets are often effective for women. However, weight-loss plans are highly individualized and based on your weight-management goals, current calorie intake and activity level.
A safe, but effective, weight-loss strategy is to decrease your current energy intake by 500 to 1, 000 calories a day, which usually leads to a weight loss of 1 to 2 pounds per week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, notes this type of gradual, steady weight loss is most effective for long-term success. Therefore, if you generally eat 2, 500 calories a day, choose a 1, 500-calorie meal plan to lose weight, and if your usual intake is 2, 200 calories, a 1, 200-calorie meal plan may be a better fit.
Using Goal Weight
If you’re overweight or obese, using your goal weight can help estimate your individualized calorie needs for weight loss. The University of Washington suggests consuming 10 calories for each pound of your desirable body weight on a daily basis. For example, if your goal weight is 120 pounds, aim for a 1, 200-calorie diet and if you’re striving to weigh 150 pounds, a 1, 500-calorie meal plan is more appropriate for you.
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You can always adjust your weight-loss diet if it’s not yielding proper results. If a 1, 200-calorie diet causes you to lose more than 2 pounds per week or constantly feel hungry, boost your intake to 1, 500-calories a day. If you’re not losing weight using a 1, 500-calorie plan, try a 1, 200-calorie diet instead. Weigh yourself once each week to track your progress.
Obese individuals with increased risk for obesity-related health problems may benefit from medically supervised, very low-calorie diets. These diets contain 800 or fewer calories daily, according to Weight-control Information Network. Although very low-calorie diets require medical supervision and generally liquid medical nutrition shakes or bars, they are effective for rapid weight loss and reduced obesity-related disease risks. A study published in a 2012 edition of the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” found subjects who used very low-calorie diets had a more significant drop in body weight, even after one year, than subjects who consumed low-calorie diets containing 1, 200 to 1, 500 calories a day.