Good question, and for each person, there's a different answer.
For some people, they can do a 1200 - 1500 calorie diet, depending on height, weight, and activity level. For others, that kind of diet would be cutting far too many calories and could even be dangerous. And for others still, it may be too many calories.
Factors that contribute are height, age, activity level, and gender. Men can eat more than women. The taller you are, the more you need to eat. The younger you are, the more you calories you need, etc.
What you need to find out first is what your maintenance calories are. That means, how many calories a day you eat in order to maintain your weight. Say, for instance, what you're eating now keeps you from losing or gaining weight. If that's the case, then try tracking your calorie intake for the day (don't cut any calories yet), then cut 500 calories a day from that if you want to lose 1 lb a week, or cut 1000 calories a day if you want to lose 2 lbs a week.
Don't jump into cutting 1000 calories right away, though. Ease your way into it. We don't want to make your body think there's a famine.
Also, be advised that the closer you are to your goal weight, the more careful you need to be about cutting calories. Cutting too much can actually hinder your progress. It sounds counterintuitive, I know!
Trying typing "TDEE calculator" it into a Google search. This should bring up a variety of calculators that will take into account your height, weight, age, and activity level, then estimate how many calories a day you need to eat in order to maintain your weight. You can then subtract 500 calories from that.
I've found this to be the most effective and easiest to maintain of all the diets out there. The weight loss is slow, but it's steady and stays off. Plus, it's so much easier to maintain this than a crash diet. If you're eating healthy, you'll find that you'll have more energy and possibly feel less deprived and hungry than before.
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