More than 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese, according to a January 2010 report in "The Journal of the American Medical Association." Carrying around extra weight increases your risk of developing a chronic illness such as heart disease or diabetes, and increases your risk of early death. Losing weight can significantly reduce your health risks. Eating fewer fewer calories than your body needs is one way to do this.
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There are many different formulas you can use to calculate your calorie needs. A simple formula that measures your resting energy expenditure, or REE, from the University of Arizona requires only your weight. For a man, calculate your REE by multiplying 170 lbs. X 11 = 1,870 calories. For a woman, calculate your REE by multiplying 170 lbs. X 10 = 1,700 calories. Once you know your REE, you can multiply that number by an activity factor to determine your total energy expenditure, or TEE. Activity factors range from 1.0 for resting to 2.2 and 2.4 for extremely active women and men respectively. For a 170-lb. man who engages in light activity -- such as office work and light exercise like walking -- you can multiply your REE by 1.6 to determine aTEE of 2,992 calories. For a 170-lb. woman who engages in light activity, you can multiply your REE by 1.5 for a TEE of 2,550 calories.
The American Academy of Family Physicians says you will be more successful at losing weight and keeping it off if you lose weight slowly. To lose 1 lb. a week you need to decrease your calorie intake by 500 calories a day. For a 170 lb. man who engages in light activity, your minimum daily calorie needs for weight loss would be 2,992 calories - 500 calories = 2,492 calories. For a woman who engages in light activity, your minimum daily calorie needs for weight loss would be 2,550 calories - 500 calories = 2,050 calories. To lose weight you should never eat less than your REE needs, says the University of Arizona.
A Balanced 2,500-calorie Diet
When trying to lose weight, it is important to eat a variety of foods from each of the food groups to help make sure you meet all of your calorie needs. A balanced 2,500-calorie diet for a 170-lb. man should include 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of vegetables, nine servings of grains, 6.5 oz. of meat or beans, three servings of dairy foods and seven servings of fat.
A Balanced 2,000-Calorie Diet
A balanced 2,000-calorie diet for a 170-lb. woman to lose weight should include 2 cups of fruit, 2 1/2 cups of vegetables, six servings of grain, 5.5 oz. of meat or beans, three servings of dairy foods and six servings of fat.
- FamilyDoctor.org: What it Takes to Lose Weight
- The University of Arizona: Calorie Need Estimates
- "Journal of the American Medical Association"; Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008
- Harvard School of Public Health: How to Get to a Healthy Weight
- MyPyramid.gov: Food Intake Patterns