The Exact Amount Of Calories You Need To Eat To Lose 2 Pounds a Week

Weight Loss Coach and Owner at 9 To 5 Nutrition
Joe is an online weight loss coach, certified nutritionist and qualified personal trainer who helps busy, lawyers, marketers and accountants lose weight and keep it off forever.

He specialises in working with people that have busy lives and don't necessarily have time to exercise and cook complex nutritious meals. Having had a 9-5 desk-job, Joe understands the struggles of juggling a hectic life with trying to maintain a good physique.

Joe has helped over 100 professionals lose weight and feel better about themselves using simple, repeatable daily habits and an easy-to-use spreadsheet to track everything.

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You’ll need to create a deficit of 7,000 in a week to lose 2 pounds, that means eating 7,000 FEWER calories than you use for staying alive, moving and exercising (if you do exercise).

Losing two 2lbs a week for a couple of months would totally transform most people’s physiques…

And potentially their lives too,

Just imagine where you could be 3 months from now if you really dedicated yourself to that goal.

If you currently weigh 250lb, in 3 months you could weigh 226lbs

If you currently weigh 200lb, in 3 months you could weigh 176lb

If you currently weigh 180lb, in 3 months you could weigh 156lbs

You’d look and feel completely different

It sounds like a pipe dream but it’s within easy reach for EVERYONE.

I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s possible, and all it takes is consistently executing a process.

So How Many Calories Exactly Would You Need to Eat?

Well, the number of calories you’d need to eat to drop 2lbs a week really depends on how much you weigh now, and crucially, how many calories you use a day.

There are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat, so you’d need to be a deficit of 7,000 calories a week to hit that 2lb target.

That means being a deficit of exactly 1,000 calories per day.

In simple terms, that means you need to eat 1,000 calories FEWER than you use, every day.

So, here’s what your calorie intake would need to look like based on a few different scenarios;

Total Daily Energy ExpenditureCalorie Intake Required for 2lb Loss per Week

How do you know how many calories you burn a day?

Well, you need to calculate your total daily energy expenditure.

You can do that right here;

Step 1: Basic Information
Step 2: Activity Level
Step 3: Select your goal

N.B. When you calculate your TDEE you need to BE HONEST about your activity levels. If you don’t you’re only cheating yourself!

What you’ll probably notice is that if you’re a relatively heavy, active male your daily energy expenditure will be fairly high, probably somewhere between 2,750 and 3,500 calories.

If that’s you, eating in a calorie deficit will be relatively easy since you can have between 1,750 and 2,000.

However, if you’re a lighter, less active female then you might find that losing 2lb per week requires a calorie intake of UNDER 1,000 calories a day.

While it is of course possible, eating less than 1,000 calories a day for weight loss is VERY tricky.

You may well be able to stick to under 1,000 calories for a week or two, but on it for a long enough period to drop significant amounts of weight is going to be nigh on impossible unless you’re prepared to make a LOT of sacrifices.

Those sacrifices will probably look like this;

  • Not drinking alcohol
  • Not eating ANY junk food
  • Not getting take out/takeaway
  • No snacks
  • No sauce
  • No oil or dressing

You can live like this, but do you really want to? Even for three months?

If the answer is no, then losing 2lbs is probably too fats for you, which leads me onto my next point…

Is Losing 2lbs a Week Safe?

Yes, while it’s not an ideal rate of weight loss (See my opinion on this below), it is safe.

Having said that, if you do have medical conditions you should speak to your doctor before undertaking any weight loss plan.

*disclaimer over*

However, just because it’s safe doesn’t mean you should do it.

Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.


Well, it might be medically safe, but it could negatively impact your life in several other ways, for example;

  • Your social life might suffer if stop going out with friends for food and drinks
  • Your relationships could suffer if you start refusing to eat certain foods
  • Your sports performance could suffer if you’re not getting in enough calories to fuel your sessions/games/whatever

So even if you could stick to a 1,000 calorie deficit a day to lose 2lbs a week, and you can maintain that for 3 months, will the result be worth being miserable for 12 weeks?

Only you can answer that, but for me, the answer is a firm ‘no’

Is Losing 2lbs a Week Too Fast?

In my opinion, yes, trying to lose 2lbs per week is too much and too fast for most people.

It means creating a 1,000 daily calorie deficit which is just too extreme fpr the vast majority of people.

My recommendation would be an absolute ceiling of a 700-calorie deficit per day which would yield a calorie deficit of 1.4lbs per week

As I mentioned above, losing 2lbs per week is pretty much out of the question, for smaller, lighter, less active people because the daily calorie intake will need to be so low that it would seriously impact your enjoyment of day-to-day life.

But even for heavier people that can eat more, a 1,000 daily calorie deficit isn’t really necessary unless the weight loss is urgent.

If you’re trying to lose weight for;

  • A sport (e.g. making weight for boxing)
  • A wedding
  • A holiday
  • A photoshoot

Then you may well have the motivation to eat a very low-calorie diet day after day for months.

But of this isn’t the case and you just want to lose some weight, then your motivation to eat super low calories just isn’t going to be there.

With this in mind, you are FAR better off aiming lower, and going for a slower rate of weight loss.

What’s the ideal rate of weight loss?

In my opinion, most people would do well to aim for a loss of 1lb per week.

This would mean creating a weekly calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week, or 500 calories per day.

How Many Calories Would You Need To Lose 1lb per Week?

Well, you could eat a lot more than if you were trying to lose 2 pounds week!

In fact, you could eat 500 calories more per day.

That’s huge! You can see a few examples below of exactly what 500 calories looks like from the excellent Fitness Chef on Instagram

Basically the equivalent of one meal.

So let’s look at the same chart, if you worked out your TDEE before, have it to hand because you’ll need it again…

Total Daily Energy ExpenditureCalorie Intake Required for 1lb Loss per Week

So, you can see that if your total energy expenditure is 2,000 calories per day, you could eat 1,500 calories and lose 1lb a week, as opposed to eating 1,000 a day and losing 2lb a week.

While it may not sound as glamorous, believe me, it’s BETTER.


Because you’ll actually be able to stick to it.

If you committed to a 500 daily calorie deficit, in 3 months you’d lose 12lbs. That’s vs 24lbs in a 1,000 daily calorie deficit

But you know what?

If you were in a 1,000 daily calorie deficit you’d probably quit after a few weeks and go back to how you were eating before, and regain any weight you’d lost.

It’s far better to opt for a slower, more sustainable rate of loss, because you’ll actually be able to maintain it and achieve your end goal.

Is This the Same for Men and Women?


Regardless of gender, your calorie deficit will need to be the same to lose 2lbs a week.


Women tend of have lower calorie expenditure than men.

This means women will generally need to eat LESS than men to create the same size of deficit.

The reason that women tend to use fewer calories is that they have less muscle, so even if you had a man and woman that were the same age, weight, and height and did the same amount of activity, the men would inevitably burn more.

As an example, let’s take a 35-year-old, 5ft 9 person weighing 200lb with a sedentary office job.

Here’s the difference in total daily calorie expenditure for a man and a woman based on this TDDE calcualtor

Total Daily Calorie Expenditure2,0002,199

This means that to lose 2lbs a week, the woman would need to eat 1,000 calories, while the man could eat 1,199 calories

Sorry ladies!

Does This Apply To Over 50s?

Yes, the same rule applies regardless of age.

One thing to highlight is that your total daily energy expenditure will decrease slightly as you age.

This is generally because most people lose muscle as they age.

Regular weight training can of course prevent this.

Can you Lose 2lb a Week Just by Walking?

Technically yes, you could lose 2lb per week just by walking, BUT…

You’d need to do a HELL of a lot of walking

How much are we talking (yes, that rhymes)?

Well, we already know that in order to lose 2lb per week, you’d need to create a calorie deficit of 1,000 calories per day.

If you didn’t want to cut your calorie intake at all and you just wanted to walk more, here’s how many steps you’d need to do.

The average person will burn around 50 calories per 1,000 steps. That means 10,000 steps burns 500 calories, and 20,000 steps burns 1,000 calories.

So, you could theoretically keep your calorie intake the same but just do an extra 20,000 steps a day.

Yes, I said Extra!

So if you are currently maintaining your weight by doing 5,000 steps per day, that would mean doing 25,000 per day.

That’s about 250 minutes or 4 hours of walking.

4 hours.

It’s A LOT.

Even if you were unemployed with no responsibilities, could you really do 4 hours of walking every day?

The answer is probably no.

But it’s not all bad news. If you wanted to burn 1,000 calories a day to lose 2lb a week, you could have a daily calorie deficit of 500, and do an extra 10,000 steps every day.

The combinations are obviously endless and I’m not going to go through them all. But the bottom line is you can COMBINE calorie restriction and more walking to achieve your weight loss goal.

Do You Need A Meal Plan for 2lb per Week Weight Loss

No, you don’t need a meal plan to drop 2lb per week.

In fact, I’d advise against i.


Well, if you follow an exact meal plan to get to the weight you want, what’s going to happen afterward?

meal plan

You’ll go back to how you were eating before and put all the weight back on again.

You need to learn to eat to a calorie target without a rigid meal plan or cutting out foods.

The truth is, provide you stick to your target calories, you can eat whatever you like and lose weight, so a meal plan is totally unnecessary.


Losing 2lb in a week is possible, as long as you eat the right amount of calories.

The ‘right’ amount will vary depending on how many calories you use per day, which you can work out below;

Step 1: Basic Information
Step 2: Activity Level
Step 3: Select your goal

Unless you’re very heavy to start with however (200lb+), I would NOT aim to lose 2lb a week, 1lb per week is a much more realistic, sustainable target.

I’d also aim to lose the weight using a mixture of calorie restriction and additional steps, for example, rather than cutting out 1,000 calories a day through diet alone, you could eat 500 calories less, and do an extra 10,000 steps a day.

If you want any more help, I offer weight loss coaching, just get in touch below to find out more.

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