How many calories should you be eating? How many should you drop to lose fat? Here’s how to know.

Need to lose some body fat? Here’s how to get started:

### Step 1: Calculate Your RMR

Start with an equation to “ballpark” the number of calories you should be consuming daily. These equations aren’t 100 percent accurate, but they’re a good starting point.

The Mifflin-St Jeor equation to calculate resting metabolic rate (RMR) has been reported to be more accurate and is newer than some of the other ones out there. Here it is:

- Men: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) + 5
- Women: (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) - (5 × age in years) – 161

If you don’t want to do the math, there are plenty of online calculators that’ll do it for you.

### Step 2: Factor in Your Activity

Once you have your RMR you need to multiply your result by an activity factor to get a rough idea of how many calories you burn in a day. Here are the defined activity factors for the Mifflin-St Jeor equation:

RMR | Activity Factor | Definition |
---|---|---|

x 1.2 | Sedentary | Little to no exercise |

x 1.375 | Light Activity | Light exercise/sports 1-3 days per week |

x 1.55 | Moderate Activity | Moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days per week |

x 1.725 | Very Active | Hard exercise/sports 6-7 days per week |

x 1.9 | Extra Active | Very hard exercise/sports and physical job |

### Step 3: Subtract Just the Right Number of Calories

After you have an idea of your maintenance calories, calculating your calories for fat loss can be as simple as subtracting 250 for a theoretical half pound of fat loss per week, or subtracting 500 for a theoretical loss of one pound per week.

I say “theoretical” because this equation isn’t exact. And as TC Luoma points out, calorie counts on food labels can also be BS. Still, it’s a decent place to start.