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How Many Calories Do I Need To Eat? (+Calorie Calculator)

Written by Tyree Hicks-Perkins

Reviewed by Liz Brown

Use our simple calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need to reach your goals!

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Have you ever asked yourself, "how many calories do I need?" Well, use our calorie calculator to determine the exact number of calories you need for your goals!

Losing weight is tough. And in 2021, it also can be pretty confusing. We’re now fully immersed in the, “It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” era, which means society has acknowledged that living healthy shouldn’t be something you turn on and off (Kudos to us!). Everywhere you turn there’s a health guru telling you about a new superfood found in the remote jungles of a place far away, or a YouTube fitness instructor telling you to pack your meals into a six hour window and do 6,000 bulgarian squats a day. 

If you’re like me, you know at least one thing—keeping your calories low is important if you’re trying to lose weight. Is there some special calorie calculator you can use? Yes! And I’ll share it with you in a few. In the meantime I’ll try to simplify the sometimes confusing formula for losing weight, and by the end of this read you’ll be able to answer the question, “How many calories do I need to slim down?”

Article At A Glance

  • Understanding your calorie needs
  • How many calories do I need for weight loss?
  • Calorie calculator 
  • How to boost weight loss
what to eat for major weight loss

Understanding Your Calorie Needs

Raise your virtual hands if you’ve ramped up your workouts, cut back on bad carbs and sugar, and cut your caloric intake seemingly in half, and you’re still not losing weight? First, don’t be discouraged! There are a number of elements that determine your needs, and simply cutting calories and working out a little harder may not be enough to get the results you’re looking for. Here are a few factors that determine what your personal calorie needs will be: 

1. BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate)

Your BMR, a.k.a. your body’s metabolism, is the number of calories that your body burns in a resting state on a given day. It’s important to note that this is not the number of calories you need to be eating for weight loss. Your BMR just tells you how many calories your body burns to keep you alive (at a resting state). 

To calculate your BMR, you need your scale weight, height, and age. Men and women use different formulas so depending on your gender, make sure to use the correct formula for you. The most common way to find your BMR is to use the Harris-Benedict Equation or simply use the calorie calculator at the end of this blog post to find your calorie needs.

2. TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure)

Understanding your TDEE, is like knowing how not to gain weight; it can give you insight on how to lose weight as well! Sounds incredibly complex, but it’s actually pretty simple; TDEE is the number of calories you need to consume (based on your activity level) to maintain your current weight. Want to know how to calculate your TDEE? I’ll give you the formula and share a handy online calculator below! 

3. Activity Level

To make TDEE easier to calculate  researchers came up with a set of “activity multipliers” known as the Katch-McArdle multipliers. By using these multipliers you can measure the average number of calories you burn on a daily basis, including your activity. To calculate your approximate TDEE, simply multiply these activity factors by your BMR:

  • Sedentary (little to no exercise + work a desk job) = 1.2
  • Lightly Active (light exercise 1-3 days / week) = 1.375
  • Moderately Active (moderate exercise 3-5 days / week) = 1.55
  • Very Active (heavy exercise 6-7 days / week) = 1.725
  • Extremely Active (very heavy exercise, hard labor job, training 2x / day) = 1.9

As promised, you can use this online calculator to find your TDEE, or skip these steps and use the calorie calculator at the end of this blog for your calorie needs.

4. Your Current Body Info

As you may already know, everyone’s calorie needs will be different depending on factors like  age, weight, and height—your habits, your work environment, and the amount of rest you get also play a role in determining how many calories to lose weight. 

how many calories do I need?

How Many Calories Do I Need For Weight Loss?

When you’re trying to lose weight, a general rule of thumb is to reduce your calorie intake to 500 fewer calories than your body needs to maintain your current weight. This will help you lose about 1 pound (0.45 kg) of body weight per week. [1] If your goal is to lose weight, your calorie needs will need to be adjusted to reflect a calorie deficit. Since the TDEE formula already takes your daily activity into account, reducing your calorie intake from your maintenance calories is the best way to lose weight with your diet. 

So here it is—the answer to everyone’s burning question; how many calories do you need to eat to lose weight? But, before we determine how many calories you need to eat to lose weight, it’s important that you do not consume fewer calories than your BMR calories. That’s right! When you eat too few calories, you’re more likely to gain any lost weight back, because your body still requires a minimum number of calories to function. When you eat fewer calories than your BMR, your body finds calories to function from other places, like your muscle (thumbs down!).

The body is smart. Similarly, when you’re not giving it enough calories to function, it starts storing your calories as fat! Because fat is 9 calories per gram, and is the most nutrient-dense macronutrient, it’s the fastest way for your body to get more calories. Even if you eat protein, your body will store it as fat simply because it needs the calories to survive. 

In order to lose 1 pound of fat per week, you need to eliminate 3,500 calories. A safe and sustainable recommendation for weight loss is to aim to lose about 1 lb per week as long as the total calories remain higher than your BMR. Anything more than this can sometimes be very difficult to maintain over the long term and you will likely gain back anything you do lose. Since there are 7 days in a week, this would mean that you need to reduce your maintenance calories by 500 calories per day, which is totally doable! 

Calorie Calculator For Weight Loss

Basic Information
Activity Level
Your results:

How To Boost Weight Loss

How many calories do I need to lose weight? We’ve all wondered about the science of losing weight; hopefully now you have a better understanding of how to reach your goals. But, even after you use the calorie calculator to figure out how many calories to lose weight, and you ramp up your activity level, there’s nothing wrong with getting a little help!

I believe that choosing the right supplements is key, and the one I lean on the most in my daily life in SkinnyFit Detox. Detox contains 13 superfoods that will help supercharge your weight loss. On top of promoting a healthy weight, Detox helps fight uncomfortable bloating, increases your energy, boosts your immunity, fights inflammation and so much more! If you’re looking for a way to get more out of your daily regiment, SkinnyFit Detox might be just what you’ve been looking for! 

I know this may feel like lots of information to take in, but it’s a lifestyle change; take it a day at a time and you’ll eventually exceed your goals – looking and feeling better than ever! 

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About The Author

Tyree Hicks-Perkins

Health & Wellness Writer

Tyree is a writer, editor, and family man and mostly writes about health, family, and parenting. When he isn’t writing you will likely find him listening to good music and spending quality time with his family.

Reviewed By

Liz Brown

Fitness & Nutrition Expert (CPT., FNS.)

Liz is a health & wellness expert, writer, and editor with over a decade of experience in the fitness & nutrition industry. She emphasizes research and simplifies complex topics to help make healthy living simple and sustainable. When she isn't researching and writing, she's sharing delicious recipes, easy DIYs, and home decor tips on her blog and social media.

More from Liz, visit: Personal Blog, TikTok, Instagram


  • NASM Certified Personal Trainer(since 2012)
  • NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist (since 2014)
  • Credentialed Coach Practitioner, Coach Training Academy
  • B.A. Liberal Studies (Health & Nutrition Sciences)
  • A.A. Liberal Arts (STEM)

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