Well, there a couple of schools of thought on the subject. Actually, offhand I can think of three.
What seems to be the most common is to slash your calories all the way down to 1200. It's not something I recommend; it doesn't strike me as particularly healthy. And you'll probably be hungry all the time, especially if you're exercising. And hunger will eventually lead to overeating, and overeating will lead, at the very least, to you spending a day or two kicking yourself.
The other most common I have come across is this: figure out how many calories you need to maintain your current weight (3FC has a calculator here
), and cut between 500 - 1000 calories to lose from 1 to 2 pounds a week. The only drawback to this is it will require occasional readjusting of your calories.
The third I can think of offhand, and it seems to be much less common than the other two, is to figure out how many calories you need to consume to maintain your goal weight and eat that many. It will most likely be fewer calories than you're eating now (or you'd weigh that much
), and the idea is that if you get used to eating "maintenance" calories it will be more of a lifestyle change and you'll become used to eating the "right" amount of calories. This is the method the Navy used to promote and probably still does. The downside is that you may experience some hunger & some difficulty getting used to the calorie allotment, and initially you might lose more quickly than expected, and it might be a bit difficult to figure out the proper level (as it varies, of course, by how active you anticipate remaining).
The last is more or less the method I am following right now (I marry it with the general principles from SugarBusters--whole grains, lean proteins). I'm not exactly burning down the scales, but I'm not hungry.