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The Absolute Starting Point for Weight Loss

This blog is really about making sustainable long term changes for weight loss but also for those of you who have stalled on your weight loss these two simple steps should help you to get you shifting the weight again .

The majority of research in to weight loss still focuses on the calories in / calories out balance – you burn more than you eat then you should lose weight and for many people this will work and is the focus of this blog.

Other reasons why you may be struggling to lose weight.

Just a quick note here.

There can be exceptions to the calories in calories out rule, in fact if weight loss and or weight management was that easy then we would all be doing it ?! Other factors such as imbalances in your digestive tract and hormonal signalling play SIGNIFICANT roles in your weight loss.

Of course, there is then the social and psychological reasons / habits behind weight loss too.  But today let’s get the nuts and bolts right and make sure your calorie intake is in the ball park for weight loss

We aren’t talking about athletes here, we are taking about you and I.  Every day people that juggle work, family, relationships and finding time for exercise.

How many calories should I reduce to lose weight?

Generally, the rule of thumb for weight loss is you need to be in a DAILY calorie deficit of around 500 calories to start losing weight.  This should keep you on track for a pound or two of weight loss per week.  This 500 calorie deficit can be achieved via your diet, exercise or ideally both.  Just aim for the 500 mark.

The government daily calorie guidelines for a woman is 2000 calories to maintain a healthy body. However, the controversy continually rumbles on over whether this is too high.

The argument does hold ground from most women I speak to who say 2000 calories is too much for them, especially if they are not regularly exercising.

The 2000 maintenance calorie issue can be further exacerbated as probably most of us under estimated how many calories we are eating and can therefore be classically where weight gain or struggles to lose weight comes from eeek!  This is why it is really useful to spend a few days working out how many calories you are actually consuming.

Which leads us back to the 500 calorie deficit.

But I don’t want to be counting calories for ever!

Good because I don’t want you to either! In fact, I haven’t counted calories for around the last 20 years…it’s tedious if you ask me!

However, we all need a base line.  Intuitive eating can come later so use a calorie counting app. My Fitness Pal is an example of one, and enter your food intake over an average week.

There is some debate as to how accurate these various calorie counters are so just use one app, DO NOT starting flicking between apps and comparing foods as it will drive you crazy!

Regardless of whether they are 100% accurate you now have a base line figure.

Your first goal is to get to the 2000 mark.  If you are way over that then work on dropping 500 calories every 7-10 days until you reach the 2000 mark, remember this is sustainable goal not a quick fix!

Can I drop off my calories quicker, say a drop of 1000?

Yes and no ?

Yes, but if you drop your calories by 1000 do it for NO MORE 7 – 10 days.  No more, deal? Once the 7/10 days is over return to a maintenance intake for 3-4 weeks based on your SENSIBLE 500 calorie deficit – this gives your body time to adapt again.

I wish to make this very clear: Any diet under 15000 calories per day is not sustainable and may actually be dangerous in the long term.  Plus, you will feel pretty crappy and give up after a week or two so please don’t do it!

To summarise the calorie part:

  • Find out your average calorie intake – you need to ascertain a reference point
  • To lose weight you need to be in a calorie deficit, daily, of about 500 calories.
  • Maintenance is about 2000, so aim for 1500 for around the next 12 weeks
  • Do not drop of too many calories too quickly for long periods. Remember your metabolism will slow and your weight loss will stop.
  • If you are exercising regularly and calorie intake is between 1500 – 2000 then you should start to lose weight.


We all are lucky enough to live in a world of plentiful food.  The downside of this is that it is very easy to gain weight.  It doesn’t take much at all, so having an understanding of calories and how many you need and how many you are consuming is a great starting point.

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