How Many Calories Should a Woman Eat Per Day to Lose Weight?

A whopping 64 percent of American women are considered overweight or obese, according to the Weight-Control Information Network. As obesity increases, so does the risk for chronic disease -- such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While calorie reduction is one of the most effective strategies for women to shed extra pounds, it's important to note that a woman’s individualized calorie needs for weight loss are based on her initial body weight, current calorie intake and activity level.

General Recommendations

Most women seeking weight loss – without medical supervision – require between 1,000 and 1,600 calories per day to safely lose weight. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggests that active women, and those weighing more than 165 pounds, often require 1,200 to 1,600 calories a day for weight loss. Inactive females weighing 164 pounds or less often require 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily to effectively shed pounds.

Considerations for Exercise

Adding exercise to your weight-loss regimen can help increase lean body mass, reduce body fat and help keep lost weight off long term. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends women participate in 2.5 to 5 hours of moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercise each week and muscle-strengthening exercises at least two times weekly. Active women who participate in strenuous physical activity generally require about 18 calories for each pound of their desirable body weight daily, according to the University of Washington.

Individualized Needs

Eating 500 fewer calories than you normally consume will help you drop 1 pound weekly, and reducing your intake by 1,000 calories a day often leads to a 2-pound-weekly weight loss, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For example, if your usual intake is 2,400 calories daily, aim for 1,400 to 1,900 calories a day for safe and effective weight loss. Use an online calorie counter -- such as -- to track your current calorie intake. Or, use an online calorie needs calculator provided by the American Council on Exercise to determine your daily calorie needs.

Calorie-Reduction Strategies

To increase satiety and make it easier to reduce your total calorie intake for weight loss, try drinking water before meals, boosting protein intake and choosing high-fiber foods. Healthy, protein-rich foods include lean meats, seafood, skinless poultry, soy products, low-fat dairy foods, egg whites and seitan. Choose fiber-rich nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. suggests filling half your plate with fruits and veggies, about one-fourth with grains and about one-fourth with protein foods. Eliminate added sugars, sweets, sugary drinks and refined-grains -- such as white bread.