How Much Should You Eat to Lose Weight?
March is National Nutrition Month and while this question doesn't talk about nutrition in the sense of food quality, it is important in terms of food quantity in order to reach specific goals. The question as old as time: how much food should you be eating in order to lose weight?
The answer for this is a bit complicated, but also quite simple. It does involve a few steps though no matter how you slice it.
The easiest way to figure out how much food you should eat in order to lose weight is to track your food as accurately as possible using an app that will calculate calories, fat, fiber, protein and carbohydrates.
Most apps will ask you to put in your stats so that it can calculate calories for you but it is important to ignore these recommendations and eat as you normally would at this time.
Tracking as accurately as possible means checking food entries against labels, using label scanners if they're available and tracking your portions as accurately as you can. While we generally don't require anyone to use a food scale right away, using measuring cups, spoons and food scales can be helpful tools in getting your portions correct.
The biggest key is don't skip anything. Include every bite of food that goes into your mouth. Missing things such as snacks, forkfull's of pasta off of kids plates and drinks like your daily latte can really add up. Monitor your weight alongside tracking your food. Weighing everyday or every couple days can be helpful here, even if you don't prefer to weigh yourself that often normally.
At the end of a week, record an average of how many calories you consumed per day and your average weight. Do this for about 2 weeks.
If your weight stayed the same over the course of the week, you are eating an amount of food that is reflective of your maintenance calories. This means that you are eating an amount of food that won't cause your weight to change.
If you gained weight, you are eating in a surplus. This means that you are consuming more calories than you are burning per day which is going to cause you to put on weight.
If you lost weight, you are eating in a caloric deficit. This means that you are consuming less calories than you are burning per day which will elicit weight loss.
You can also use different calculators to give you an estimate of where you should start when trying to lose weight. TDEEcalculator.net is a great resource that is fairly accurate.
Your third option is to work with a nutrition coach that can help you figure out where you should be and what you should be eating.
If you prefer not to track your food, you can utilize hand portioning tools such as this one from Precision Nutrition to portion out your food.
No matter what way you choose to go about trying to reach your weight loss goals, progress monitoring is key. Be sure to track your starting place, then monitor and adjust as you reduce portion sizes.