In order to make and fitness goal work, it is important to know how to decide your needed caloric intake. It is not enough to cut down on calories if they are coming from bad sources. Too often, the problem is distribution; Too many calories from one source (usually carbohydrates or fat) and not enough from another (generally protein). It is very important to have adequate distribution for proper fat-loss. A general recommendation for someone who is healthy and exercising regularly is:
In order to determine how many calories you need, generally speaking, multiply your weight by 10 (150 pounds times 10=1500 calories) then for each decade past 20-years-old take of 2%. That is your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): the number of calories it takes to support your current body function to live. Now we need to adjust for activity and life. You will want to determine which of the following groups you fit into and multiply your BMR by the affiliated percentage.
Sedentary (sitting most of the day, with very little physical activity) 20% or 0.20
Light activity (walking around campus, basic cleaning, cooking, walking the dog)30% or 0.30
Moderate activity (heavy housework, gardening, spend most of day on your feet)40% or 0.40
Very active (prolonged physical sports, regular training, outdoor work, manual labor)50% or 0.50
Once you multiply the two numbers add them together and multiply that number by 1.10. This will add the appropriate number of calories needed for digestion. Now you have your base caloric number.
In order to lose weight (fat), you will need to eat UNDER your base number. Not drastically though. A pound is equal to 3,500 calories. So you will need to be burning more calories than your base need. A good place to start is to eat 200-300 calories less than your base and burn, through exercise, 200-300 calories each day. You don't want to go too much into a deficit or your body will start to break down and burn muscle instead of fat.