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How to Calculate How Many Calories & Carbs You Should Intake Daily to Lose Weight

Last Updated: Aug 21, 2015 | By Pam Murphy
A man is reading the label on food at the supermarket. Photo Credit anyaberkut/iStock/Getty Images

Restricting your caloric intake to a level that produces a calorie deficit -- while supporting your nutritional needs -- leads to healthy weight loss. Planning meals and snacks that align with your calorie target and that include a healthy mix of nutrients can help you meet your weight goals and improve your health. If you follow a balanced diet that includes a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats, counting carbs may be unnecessary unless your doctor gives you specific recommendations based on your health needs; however, setting a target for carbohydrate intake may help you achieve balance in your eating plan if you tend to consume more carbs than you need.

Calculating Weight-Loss Calorie Target

Step 2

Step 3

Adjust your calorie target for weight loss if you constantly feel hungry. Adding up to 200 calories to your goal may

be enough to help you achieve satiety without sabotaging your weight goals. As long as you establish a calorie deficit by staying below your maintenance calorie level, you should lose weight at a healthy, gradual pace.

Calculating Carbohydrates for Weight Loss

Step 1

Determine the percentage of calories from carbohydrates you want to include in your eating plan. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults consume 45 to 65 percent of their calories from carbohydrates; however, researchers at Harvard Medical School found that eating plans with as few as 35 percent of calories from carbohydrates support healthy weight loss without sacrificing a heart-healthy diet or nutritional needs.

Step 2

Step 3

Convert carbohydrate grams from the foods in your meal plan into calories. One gram of carbohydrate provides four calories. Multiply the number of grams of carbohydrates in a given food by four to determine the number of calories from carbohydrates it provides. The nutrient database provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture provides the carbohydrate content of a variety of foods and beverages.

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