Setting a Target Body Weight
Once you have calculated your current calorie requirements, you have to calculate the calorie requirements for the body that you would like to have. Your target weight should be such, that your Body Mass Index falls within the normal range of 18.5 to 24.9. For example, if you are a 35-year old, lightly-active female with a height of 5 feet, 6 inches and a weight of 160 pounds, you need 1,978 calories per day to maintain your weight. If you want to weigh 145 pounds, set the weight in the calculator to 145. The calculator shows that you should eat 1,884 calories per day to maintain a weight of 145 pounds. This difference of about 100 calories per day is equivalent to a slice of toast with a pat of butter.
Since one pound of body fat has about 3,500 calories, a reduction of 100 calories per day will cause the loss of one pound of weight in 35 days. By just cutting out the calories equivalent to one slice of buttered toast from your diet, you can lose 15 pounds in one year and a half. Similarly, you can gain 15 pounds in a year and a half by eating 100 calories extra per day.
Weight loss can be accelerated by reducing the calories further, but a diet should not reduce intake below 1,300 calories per day because such diets are not sustainable and it is very difficult to obtain all the necessary nutrients with very low calorie diets. Another adverse effect of very low calorie diets is that the body goes into starvation
mode and decreases the BMR. A decrease in BMR reduces weight loss and has the unfortunate consequence that you will gain weight faster if you overeat because you will be consuming more excess calories above your new, lower BMR.
The best diet is one that can be maintained for many months or years until healthy eating habits become a way of life. As a general rule, your daily calories should not be reduced below 15 percent of the calories required by your target weight and activity level. In our example above, the target weight for the lightly active female requires 1,884 calories per day. Fifteen percent of this amount is 282 calories, i.e, 1884×(15/100). Subtracting 282 from 1,884 we get 1,602 calories per day. This reduction of 282 calories per day should result in the loss of one pound every twelve days, or about 2 pounds per month, at the beginning of the diet. As the body weight decreases, the rate of weight loss will also decrease. When you approach your target weight, you can increase your calories gradually until you reach a maintenance level.
Just how much food is 282 calories? This is approximately one slice of apple pie (1/6 of an 8-inch pie), or one jelly-filled doughnut, or two scoops of vanilla ice cream, or two regular sodas. You can normalize your weight by just skipping dessert and sweet drinks! It also helps if you can exercise vigorously 30 minutes per day. Vigorous exercise can burn 200 calories in half an hour. Just walking burns approximately 150 calories in half an hour.
Food scale and Measuring cup