# How many calories should I eat to lose 2 pounds?

To lose 2 pounds per week, you need to maintain a daily calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories per day. This can be achieved by reducing your calorie intake, increasing your calorie expenditure through exercise, or a combination of both diet and exercise. Aim to reduce your calorie intake by 500-1000 calories below your maintenance level and burn an extra 500 calories through exercise.

## How Does Weight Loss Work?

Weight loss occurs when you expend more calories than you consume. To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to have a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories. This deficit can be achieved through diet, exercise, or a combination of both.

### Calorie Deficit from Diet

You can create a calorie deficit through your diet by consuming fewer calories than your body burns each day. To lose 2 pounds per week through diet alone, you need a daily calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories (2 lbs x 3,500 calories per lb / 7 days per week = 1,000 calorie deficit per day). This can be achieved by reducing your calorie intake by 500-1000 calories below your maintenance level. Your maintenance level is the number of calories your body burns per day with your current activity level. This is typically estimated by multiplying your weight (in lbs) by 10-15 calories. So for example, someone who weighs 150 lbs would need around 1,500-2,250 calories per day to maintain their current weight.

### Calorie Deficit from Exercise

Increasing your physical activity can also create a calorie deficit and lead to weight loss. Burning an additional 500 calories per day through exercise can help you lose about 1 pound per week. To lose 2 pounds per week, you would need to burn about 1,000 extra calories through exercise. This might involve 60-90 minutes of moderate intensity cardio exercise per day, such as brisk walking, swimming, cycling or running. Strength training can also help boost your calorie burn. Combining diet and exercise is often the most effective approach, rather than relying on just one method.

## Calculating Your Calorie Needs

To determine how many calories you should eat to lose 2 pounds per week, you first need to calculate your daily calorie needs:

### 1. Estimate Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR)

Your BMR represents the minimum number of calories your body needs to perform essential functions like breathing, circulating blood, regulating temperature, etc. It does not include calories burned through physical activity. Your BMR can be estimated using the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation:
For men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5
For women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

### 2. Factor in Your Activity Level

Next, multiply your BMR by an activity factor based on your lifestyle:

• Sedentary (little/no exercise): BMR x 1.2
• Light activity (light exercise 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
• Moderate activity (moderate exercise 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
• Very active (hard exercise 6-7 days/week): BMR x 1.725
• Extremely active (very hard exercise, physical job, training 2x/day): BMR x 1.9

This provides your total daily energy expenditure or the approximate calories you burn each day.

### 3. Create a Calorie Deficit for Weight Loss

To lose 2 pounds per week you need a daily calorie deficit of 1,000 calories. Reduce your calorie intake by 500-1000 calories below your calculated daily energy expenditure. The larger the deficit, the faster the rate of weight loss, but do not go below 1200 calories per day for women or 1500 calories for men.

## Sample Calorie Intake to Lose 2 Pounds Per Week

Here is an example calorie intake to lose 2 pounds per week for a moderately active woman:

• Age: 30 years old
• Height: 5′ 5″ (165 cm)
• Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
• Activity level: Moderate (exercises 3-5 days per week)

### Calculate her BMR:

BMR = 10 x 68 kg + 6.25 x 165 cm – 5 x 30 years – 161 = 1390 calories/day

### Multiply by her activity factor:

BMR x 1.55 (moderate activity) = 1390 x 1.55 = 2155 calories

Her maintenance calories are around 2,155 calories per day.

To lose 2 lbs per week, she needs a 1,000 calorie per day deficit:
2,155 maintenance calories – 1,000 calorie deficit = 1,155 calories per day

Therefore, this moderately active woman would need to consume around 1,155 calories per day to lose 2 pounds per week. This can be achieved through diet, adding exercise, or a combination of both. Consuming nutritious foods that are low in calorie density like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains can help support this calorie intake.

## Foods to Help You Feel Full on Fewer Calories

Cutting calories can leave you feeling hungry, especially if you eat a lot of processed foods or sugary snacks. Choosing whole, minimally processed foods that are high in nutrients but lower in calories can help keep hunger at bay. Here are some of the best options:

### Lean Proteins

Protein is the most filling macronutrient and can boost metabolism slightly. Choose lean options like:

• Skinless chicken or turkey breast
• Fish and shellfish
• Eggs
• Lean cuts of beef and pork
• Tofu
• Beans, lentils and legumes
• Nonfat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese

Aim for 0.5-1 gram of protein per pound of body weight daily when trying to lose weight.

### Vegetables

Vegetables provide fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants with very few calories. Load up on veggies like:

• Broccoli
• Carrots
• Kale and spinach
• Cauliflower
• Brussels sprouts
• Asparagus
• Peppers
• Mushrooms
• Zucchini and summer squash

Aim for at least 2-3 cups of vegetables per day.

### Fruits

Fruits are also packed with nutrients and fiber with a sweet taste. Stick to lower sugar fruits in moderation such as:

• Berries
• Grapefruit
• Melon
• Apples
• Pears
• Kiwifruit
• Peaches
• Plums

Aim for 2-4 servings of fruit per day.

### Whole Grains

Choose minimally processed whole grains which are higher in fiber like:

• Oats
• Quinoa
• Brown rice
• Wild rice
• Barley
• Buckwheat
• Bulgur
• Whole grain pasta

Aim for 6-10 servings of whole grains per day.

### Legumes

Beans, lentils, peas and peanuts are great plant-based protein and fiber sources. Enjoy foods like:

• Kidney beans
• Lentils
• Split peas
• Garbanzo beans
• Edamame
• Peanuts

Aim for 1-2 servings of legumes per day.

### Healthy Fats

Despite being high in calories, small amounts of healthy fats can keep you feeling full. Include options like:

• Nuts and seeds
• Nut butters
• Olive oil
• Coconut oil
• Fatty fish like salmon

Aim for 2-3 servings of healthy fats per day.

## Sample Meal Plan to Lose 2 Pounds Per Week

Here is a 1,200 calorie sample meal plan for weight loss at a rate of 2 pounds per week:

Meal Foods Calories
Breakfast 1 cup oatmeal made with 1 cup nonfat milk and 1 tbsp ground flaxseed – 300 calories 300
Snack 1 medium apple – 95 calories 95
Lunch Tuna salad made with 3 oz tuna, 2 tbsp light mayo, lettuce, tomato, cucumber on 2 slices whole wheat bread – 380 calories 380
Snack 1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup berries – 150 calories 150
Dinner 3 oz grilled chicken breast, 1 cup roasted broccoli, 1/2 cup brown rice – 350 calories 350
Snack 1 oz (about 24) almonds – 165 calories 165
Total 1,440

This sample meal plan provides a good balance of protein, healthy fats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help you feel energized while cutting calories. Tailor your meal plans to foods you enjoy eating and be sure to stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.

## Exercise Recommendations for 2 Pounds Per Week Weight Loss

In addition to reducing your calorie intake, increasing your physical activity can help boost your calorie deficit for more effective weight loss. Here are some exercise recommendations for losing 2 pounds per week:

• Aim for 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardio like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming. This equates to roughly 30-60 minutes 5 days per week.
• 2-3 days per week of strength training helps build and preserve lean muscle mass which supports metabolism. Focus on major muscle groups like legs, back, chest, core, shoulders and arms.
• High intensity interval training (HIIT) 2-3 times per week can help burn more calories in less time. Alternate short bursts of intense exercise with recovery periods.
• Increase your general daily movement with activities like taking the stairs, parking farther away, standing more and taking short walks on breaks.

Any additional exercise beyond your normal routine can help create the calorie deficit needed to promote weight loss. Start slowly and work your way up in duration and intensity. Consistency is key.

## Other Lifestyle Tips for Losing 2 Pounds Per Week

Aside from diet and exercise, other lifestyle factors can optimize your weight loss efforts:

### Get Enough Sleep

Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night. Poor or insufficient sleep is linked to increased hunger hormones and reduced metabolism.

### Reduce Stress

High stress levels increase cortisol which can drive overeating and fat storage around the abdomen. Combat stress with meditation, yoga, deep breathing and adequate sleep.

### Be Accountable

Share your goals and progress with supportive friends, a dietitian or health coach to help you stay on track. Tracking your calorie intake and exercise habits can also boost accountability.

### Stay Hydrated

Drink water throughout the day to reduce hunger levels and support metabolism. Cut out sugary beverages which provide excess calories with little nutrition.

### Watch Portion Sizes

Consuming large portions makes it easy to overeat. Measure portions carefully, especially with calorie-dense foods. Use smaller plates which make portions appear bigger.

Sustainable weight loss takes patience and commitment. A rate of 1-2 pounds per week promotes steady progress without compromising your nutrient intake. Follow the recommendations in this article to lose 2 pounds healthily each week.

## Conclusion

Losing 2 pounds per week requires a daily calorie deficit of about 1,000 calories. This can be achieved through reducing your calorie intake by 500-1000 calories below your maintenance level and burning an extra 500 calories through exercise. Eat plenty of protein, vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Engage in 150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity cardio along with some strength training and high intensity intervals. With a structured diet and exercise plan, you can safely lose 2 pounds each week. Remember that consistency is key, so focus on sustainable lifestyle changes you can stick with long-term.