A low-calorie diet can help you to reduce body fat and lose weight. However, drastically reducing your calories can have a reverse effect and actually hinder your weight loss goals. Properly calculating the amount of calories your body requires on a daily basis is important to safely lose weight.
Safe Weight Loss
Healthy weight loss usually occurs slowly and steadily. Plan to lose no more than 1 to 2 lbs. a week, even if your initial weight loss is a little faster in the first week or two, notes the Mayo Clinic. Creating a daily deficit of 500 calories will result in 1 lb. of weight loss over a week while a 1,000 calorie daily deficit will lead to 2 lbs. of weight loss. According to Columbia University, the minimum amount of total calories a woman can consume daily while remaining healthy is 1,200.
Basal Metabolic Rate
Your basal metabolic rate is the energy, measured in calories, expended by the body at rest to maintain normal bodily functions, notes PreventDisease.com. Your BMR is the minimum amount of calories that your body needs on a daily basis and depends on height, weight, gender and age. For example, a 29-year-old woman who stands 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighs 180 lbs. will require approximately 1,602 calories per day. However, your exact number may differ.
Active Metabolic Rate
In addition to calculating your BMR, it's important to consider your active metabolic rate. Your AMR is determined by the amount of calories burned through daily activities ranging from light, such as brisk walking, to vigorous, such as heavy lifting. The AMR is combined with your BMR to determine how many calories you need on a daily basis based on your physical attributes and lifestyle. For example, an individual with a construction job will burn far more calories then someone with a desk job.
Diet and Exercise
A calorie deficit can be created through diet, exercise or a combination of both. Since a woman should never eat less then 1,200 calories per day, closely monitor calories consumed and calories burned to avoid dropping below that number. In addition to eating a reduced calorie diet, the foods included in your diet should be nutrient dense, such as lean meats, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. These foods will increase energy levels, boost metabolism and keep you fuller for longer. When creating a deficit through exercise, the number of calories burned will depend on the intensity of the exercise. For example, a 160-lb. woman will burn 508 calories during one hour of high-impact aerobics, compared with 250 calories burned in one hour of moderate weightlifting, notes Health Status.