If you hit a weight-loss plateau, try reducing your portion sizes.

How to Determine Calories Expended Each Day if Losing a Pound a Week

by Erin Coleman, R.D., L.D.

If you’re losing 1 pound weekly, your weight-loss pace is healthy, safe and effective for long-term success, note the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Once you know how many calories you’re eating during your weight-loss venture, it’s simple to figure out how many calories you’re burning when losing 1 pound per week. You can also determine how many more calories you should expend if you want to shed 2 pounds weekly.

Figure out how much you’re eating on a daily basis by recording your calorie intake in a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink – even chewing gum -- in your journal. Record specific amounts; for example, 1 cup of skim milk, one slice of whole-grain bread, 3 ounces of grilled chicken breast or 2 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Use nutrition facts labels and online nutrition databases to determine the exact number of calories each item you eat has. A good example of an online food database is the U.S Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference. Packaged foods you purchase come with nutrition facts labels that provide the number of calories you’re getting in each portion size. Add up the number of calories you eat and drink at each meal and snack to determine your total daily calorie intake.

Add 500 calories to your total daily calorie intake to determine how many calories your body expends while losing 1 pound per week. For example, if you’re eating 1,600 calories daily and losing 1 pound weekly, you’re expending 2,100 calories in a day. Burning 3,500 calories more than you eat weekly leads to a loss of 1 pound per week. Increase your calorie expenditure by an additional 500 calories daily to burn 1,000 calories more than you eat and lose 2 pounds weekly, which is still within the CDC’s safe weight-loss guidelines.

Items you will need

  • Food journal


  • Exercise most days of the week for best results.


  • Talk with your doctor before beginning a new exercise regimen.
  • Don't consume fewer than 1,000 calories daily unless supervised by your doctor.

About the Author

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics and has extensive experience working as a health writer and health educator. Her articles are published on various health, nutrition and fitness websites.

Photo Credits

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