You have a goal of losing weight. You may wonder, how many calories do you need to eat in order to get to your goal weight? Use our free weight loss calculator as a guide.

Should You Count Calories to Lose Weight?

Free weight loss calculator - how many calories should you eat in a day?
How many daily calories do you need to lose weight?

As someone who has been maintaining a 100 pound weight loss for the last decade, I know the importance of having a guide to help you with healthier eating.

While I think there is great benefit to eating intuitively (using your hunger to guide you), I know that for me I needed more structure and accountability in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off long term.

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I lost the majority of my weight using the Weight Watchers (now called WW) program and I’m still a big fan of Weight Watchers. Click here to learn more about how I used WW and to see if the program is right for you.

WW uses their own method that counts points. The method is similar to calorie counting but it also gives more benefit (lower points) to foods that are higher in protein, low in fat, and have fiber and additional nutrition. Foods that are highly processed and high in sugar and fat are higher in points.

WW also allows members 200 zero point foods that can be eaten freely.

Still, the WW method isn’t for everyone and if it’s not for you, consider counting calories instead by using our free calorie counting calculator, below.

Women keeping a food log for weight loss with calorie counting.
Research shows that tracking the food you eat leads to weight loss.

Benefits of Calorie Counting for Weight Loss

What are the benefits of counting calories to lose weight?

  • Counting calories is simple. As complex as weight loss is from a mental and emotional standpoint, the science behind it is relatively simple. When you consume fewer calories than you eat, you lose body fat. Counting calories gives you a guideline for how much to eat in order to lose weight.
  • Calorie information is available. There are many apps that guide you in counting calories (see below). If you prefer to write your food journal on paper, all information about calories is available online or in books for free.
  • Counting calories works. Counting calories, if you do so consistently, does work. In fact, research shows us that keeping a food log is one of the best ways to lose weight.

Disadvantages of Calorie Counting for Weight Loss

While there are plenty of benefits to counting calories, there are distinct disadvantages, too.

  • It’s impossible to be totally accurate when counting calories. Unless you are in a scientific food lab situation, it’s impossible to count calories with 100% accurately. Mis-measurements, the variation of food sources, or even the way your own body metabolizes foods are all factors that affect the accuracy of counting calories.
  • Counting calories can be a hassle. While it’s fairly simple to count calories, it’s still something to be done each day and some people find this too much of a hassle. I personally have been keeping food logs for years so it’s not a big deal to me, but if it’s not something you’ve done regularly, you may find the method restricting.
  • Counting calories can lead to obsession. Many people find that they become food and numbers obsessed when they count calories, which leads to even greater issues with food, diets, and weight. My own experience was that yes, for a season I was diet and numbers obsessed, but it was only for a season. Now that I’ve been maintaining my weight for a period of time, that obsession has diminished greatly.

Ultimately, the decision about whether counting calories is right for you or not is up to you. You know yourself best and what methods will lead to your long-term success. Talk with your doctor about it, also.

Use an app to count calories.

SmartPhone Apps to Count Calories

Gone are the days where we had to manually count calories. These are some of my favorite apps for counting calories and they make the method a breeze.

All of these apps are either totally free or have a free version. I’ve never paid for the upgrades so you can use these without paying and get everything you need to count calories accurately to lose weight.

Top Calorie Counting Smart Phone Apps:

My Fitness Pal – This is the standard app many people use for calorie counting. I find that their estimation of your daily calorie needs tends toward the low side, so proceed with caution there. A benefit to My Fitness Pal is that it syncs with most fitness trackers like a FitBit.

Lose It – Another great app for tracking calories eaten.

My Net Diary – This app is similar to My Fitness Pal.

Bite Snap – This is an app I’ve been playing around with lately. The way it works is that you snap a photo of your plate and then it guides you into quickly tracking your calories. I am always a bit shocked at how accurately it knows what food is on my plate.


Free Weight Loss Calculator – Daily Food Calorie Intake

Use this free weight loss calculator/food calorie calculator to determine how many calories you need to eat each day in order to lose weight.

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Now that you know how many calories you need to eat each day in order to lose weight, you are ready to move toward weight loss success.


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Free Calorie calculator for weight loss
How many calories should I eat to lose weight? Free calorie calculator.