In general, the fewer calories you eat the more weight you’ll lose. Eating 1,600 calories a day helps many women shed pounds. However, if on a 1,600-calorie diet you’re losing more than 2 pounds weekly, an 1,800-calorie meal plan may be a better fit. Rapid weight loss often leads to weight regain.
The only time you’d lose more weight eating 1,800 calories versus 1,600 calories daily is if you burn more calories when you’re consuming the 1,800-calorie diet. For example, if eating 1,800 calories daily causes you to feel more energized and burn a total of 2,800 calories a day, but following a 1,600-calorie meal plan means you don’t have the energy to exercise and only expend 2,100 calories daily, you’ll lose more weight using the 1,800-calorie plan. However, if your energy expenditure remains constant, you’ll shed more pounds with a 1,600-calorie diet.
Not all women will shed pounds eating 1,800 calories daily. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, 1,800-calorie meal plans often cause sedentary women ages 19 to 50 and moderately active over age 50 to maintain their current body weight -- not lose weight. Active women will likely lose weight eating 1,800 calories a day, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 note. However, the same group of women will likely lose weight faster eating 1,600 daily.
Eating 1,600 calories daily helps many active women and those weighing more than 164 pounds lose weight safely and effectively, reports the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. However, women weighing 164 pounds or less -- especially those who are sedentary -- may need 1,000 to 1,200 calories daily to shed pounds, the NHLBI reports. The rate at which you’re losing weight determines if your current calorie intake is on track.
Regardless of whether you’re eating 1,600 or 1,800 calories daily, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a safe weight-loss rate of 1 to 2 pounds weekly to keep lost weight off long term. Therefore, aim to consume 500 to 1,000 fewer calories than your usual intake for effective weight loss. If you normally eat 2,100 calories daily, a 1,100- to 1,600-calorie diet should do the trick. If your usual intake is 2,800 calories a day, aim for 1,800 to 2,300 calories daily during weight loss.
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.