Calorie Deficit: Definition, Diet, Weight Loss, Dangers & How To Calculate It

Millions of people pursue a weight loss diet. To be able to achieve this, a person needs to reduce their calorie intake and increase their exercise. It is simple science. 

To shed pounds, a person needs to achieve a balanced lifestyle involving wholesome foods and exercise routine. This means eating less food than your body needs in order to sustain your current weight. Or, increasing your exercise to achieve your calorie burn goal. 

Today, we will explain everything you need to know about calorie deficits, how it promotes weight loss, its benefits, and dangers:

What is a Calorie Deficit?

A calorie deficit is simply consuming fewer calories than you burn each day. Calories come from food and drink. Those calories provide our bodies with energy in order to function properly. 

Then, our bodies expend those calories in the form of heat. To achieve a reduction in calorie intake, a person needs to consume fewer per day than it expends. 

Expended energy is known as total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). This is calculated through:

  • Physical activity and non-exercise movements: sports, fidgeting, walking
  • Thermic effect food: how the human body digests calories 
  • Resting energy expenditure (REE): breathing, blood circulation

All TDEE components equate to a person’s expended energy. For a person to maintain their current measurements, their calorie consumption should match their TDEE. Similarly, a person needs to know their resting metabolic rate (RMR) in order to know how many calories to consume for them to maintain, gain, or lose weight. RMR estimates how your body’s calorie needs. 

To achieve a calorie decrease, a person must consume fewer calories than their total energy expended. Hence, for a person who expends 2000 calories per day, their calorie intake should be less than that. 

Next, you will find out what a calorie deficit diet looks like and how it works:

The Calorie Deficit Diet

It can be easy to achieve a calorie deficit diet. But by no means is eating minimal food healthy or sustainable. If you starve your body of what it requires to sustain sufficient energy levels, you will quickly burn out. So, today we are here to help you understand what a robust and sustainable calorie reduction diet looks like.

How Does Calorie Deficit Work? When you create a calorie deficit, your body is forced to burn stored fat for energy– a process known as lipolysis. Two ways of raising your calorie deficit include exercising and curbing your eating levels.

An abundance of diet research over the years has concluded that a diet with fewer calories is beneficial for shedding pounds. This diet is where a person would reduce their everyday calorie intake by 500. For some, this can be as simple as eliminating sugary drinks and processed foods. It can also be reached by increasing your physical activity levels. A calorie decrease can be reached through food or exercise.

Studies show that the most successful weight loss journey happens when a person combines a healthy diet with regular exercise. Eating less food cannot always guarantee a sustainable loss. Instead, mix a calorie reduction with physical activity to maximize weight loss results. 

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There is a reason that a 500 calorie reduction per day is recommended. Research suggests an average of 3,500 calories should be cut from a diet every week. This is to achieve a reduction of one pound each week. 

This 3,500 weekly reduction can be spread out differently for each day. This will still also a person to achieve a weekly calorie deficit for weight loss. But, a daily average can help a dieter be consistent with their food intake. 

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How to Start a Calorie Deficit

There are three ways in which you can start a calorie deficit:

  1. Eating fewer calories than you burn.
  2. Exercising more to burn additional calories.
  3. Combining a reduced-calorie diet with increased physical activity.

Combine all three methods for the best results.

If you’re starting from scratch, the best way to reduce your calorie intake is by following a healthy diet plan. This will help you to cut down on the amount of calories you’re eating and make it easier to stick to your calorie deficit.

If you are wondering exactly how to calculate your ideal calorie count:

How to Calculate a Calorie Deficit

The best calorie count is one that sustains your energy throughout the day. One that will allow you to exercise in order to stimulate fat loss. A poor diet too low in calories is one that will cause fatigue and is not sustainable. 

Thus, calculating an ideal calorie reduction is key in order to sustain and maximize your goals. 

To work out your ideal and unique calorie deficit, you need to begin working out how many calories you need to burn each day. Burning calories is more than exercise. Your body also expends energy through resting energy expenditure, such as blood circulation, and breathing. 

For an average energy expenditure total, you can use a calorie calculator or mobile apps.

How to Calculate (video)

Here is a video that will help you understand how to calculate calorie deficits :

Finding your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE)

  1. Add up the number of hours you exercise per week 
  2. Divide this number by seven to work out an everyday average
  3. Multiply this number by your body weight (in pounds) + the number of calories burned per hour of training (per pound of body weight)

For example:

  1. 1 hour per day of exercise = 7 hours of exercise per week  
  2. 7 hours divided by 7 = 1 hour per day
  3. 1 multiplied by (200 pounds + 500 calories burned)

This totals 700 calories. Then, you need to evaluate your RMR.

Finding your resting metabolic rate (RMR)

RMR indicates how many calories you burn through basic bodily functions such as breathing.

To do this, apply your details to the following equation:

  • 9.99 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 4.92 x age (years) + 5

Now, you need to add your energy expended through the exercise to your resting metabolic rate. This will total your normal calorie intake which will maintain your current weight.

Remember, if you wish to drop pounds, you need to cause a deficit. Finally, to work out your calorie reduction goal, you need to minus your chosen calorie count. This should be between 300 and 500 calories per day to sustain a healthful loss. 

Calculate Calorie Deficit with BMR

Here’s a video illustrating how to calculate calorie deficit with bmr.

For anyone looking to lose weight, actively partaking in this diet could be the answer. Here’s how:

Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight

Although it may seem that cutting is easy, many people still struggle. A good balance of food and exercise is required or this diet to work and be continual. When it is successful, it will result in weight decline. 

When your body is in a calorie deficit state, energy will be derived from stored body fat in order to perform basic functions. Stored fat equals stored energy. Thus, when your body has not consumed enough food, it does not have enough energy from food to burn. This is when your basic bodily functions start to use fat as fuel. Using stored fat for energy needs encourages fat loss.

calorie deficit to lose weight

Typically, stored body fat is on your stomach, hips, and thighs. So most people will notice a difference in those areas first. This will be an indicator that the new way of eating is working.

It is not only the calorie reduction that causes maximum results. Although it plays a big part, all successful diets need a good combination of the right food and exercise. 

When a calorie reduction is paired with regular exercise, results can be quicker to reach, more continual, and maximized. The body needs and uses stored fat as energy for exercise as much as it does resting energy expenditure. Thus, exercise will excel in the fat burning process and assist a person reach their weight loss goals quicker or more sustainably. 

Or, if a person has a day where they do not reach their calorie goal, exercise may benefit them by overriding that. It can assist in burning those extra calories. 

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With a better understanding of how calorie deficit diets, it is time to work out how to reduce your day to day intake:

Tips for consuming fewer calories

Achieving a calorie reduction may seem pretty simple to you now. But, there are a few nutrition tips that may encourage and maintain your results along the way. 

1 – Decrease portion size

First, you will need to curb your eating disoeders and change the amount of food you eat on a day-to-day basis. In order to eat a healthy and balanced diet, you need to understand portion sizing. A balanced meal should typically include 50 percent carbohydrates, 20 to 30 percent fat, and 20 to 30 percent protein. 

The tip is to eat what will satisfy you instead of overloading your plate. Three wholesome A balanced meal plan- three wholesome a day- will maintain energy levels and still be within your calorie count.

2 – Consume more negative calorie foods

Negative calorie foods are rich in nutrition. They demand more energy from your body than they expend. Typically, they have high water content.

These include many fruits and vegetables such as carrots, celery, berries, grapefruit, watermelons, tomatoes, cucumbers, and apples.

Studies show that those who eat processed or sugary produce can exceed their required calorie intake by at least 500 calories every day. Substituting sugary drinks and processed meals for negative calorie options is an easy way to decrease your everyday intake. 

3 – Hydrate your body

Speeding up your metabolism is easy. You simply need to drink more water. Drinking 2 to 3 liters per day will regulate your metabolism, flush your body with toxins, and prevent a person from binge eating or snacking. 

4 – Restrict meal times

Avoid late-night snacking or eating late. Research reveals that eating often after 8.p.m. can cause weight gain. To prevent you from eating late, set a window where you eat. This could be between 7.a.m. and 7.p.m. 

Reducing your portion sizes, eliminating sugary and processed food, and restricting meal times can support a person to achieve a calorie deficit diet. Remember, never starve your body of food or nutrients. A balanced diet is the most manageable and wholesome way to diet and encourages a person to reach their end goal.

For more on what dangers and health problems the calorie deficit diet can cause:

Dangers of the calorie deficit diet

Ensuring you are eating enough is very important for the well-being and safety of your body. A diet too low in nutrients can be dangerous and pose health issues, such as:

Slower metabolism

Eating fewer or too few calories can quickly slow down your basal metabolic rate. This is due to a decrease in thermogenesis occurring in the body. Studies show that those who slow down their metabolism by eating less can easily gain pounds when they stop dieting. A reduction in metabolism is also difficult to reverse. 

According to nutrition experts, slower metabolism can also affect a person’s muscle mass. This is often down to not consuming enough protein. Or, not performing enough muscle-building exercises.

To stop your metabolism from slowing down, always consume the recommended calories that your everyday goal requires.


A common risk of a low-calorie diet is the development of gallstones. Low-calorie diets often rely on using stored fat for energy. Although this can accommodate, it also means the liver produces more cholesterol. An increase in cholesterol can cause it to interact with the bile in your body. When this happens, gallstones form.

Nutrient deficiencies

Calorie-restricted diets can often cause a person to eat less of nutritional requirements, such as carbohydrates, vitamins, and protein. If a person becomes nutrient deficient it can cause many risks from fatigue to thinning hair, muscle loss, and weaker bones. 

Reduce fertility

Studies reveal that low-calorie diets can affect fertility, especially in women. A reduction in calories can cause a decrease in certain hormones, which are needed for regular ovulation. In particular, estrogen levels can reduce significantly for women that do not eat enough. Estrogen is needed for ovulation to occur. Thus, a decrease in estrogen can cause the ovulation process to stop altogether.  

If any side effects occur that are linked with reduced fertility, seek medical advice as soon as possible. These side effects include a sudden change in hormones, an irregular menstrual cycle, or no periods at all. 

To prevent these health risks, it is advised to eat the recommended calorie count your deficit requires. Eating fewer calories than your daily requirement can cause many risks. Some are irreversible. 

For anyone queries, see below:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can a 1000 calorie deficit be healthy?

Eating 1000 or less per day is considered dangerous and unhealthy. In time, it can cause significant muscle loss and slow down metabolism. 

How much calorie-cutting is too low?

Most people need an average of 1200 a day to stay well. This is without any physical or vigorous exercise. Anything below this is considered unhealthy. 

For anyone who partakes in physical exercise should consider eating more than 1200 to ensure the calorie reduction is not below 1000.

What can you eat on a calorie deficit diet?

This diet does not eliminate any foods. Instead, it reduces how much you consume on an everyday basis. But, eating low-calorie foods such as fruits and vegetables can help reach a calorie reduction. 

If you can, eliminating fatty and sugary foods and drinks from your lifestyle can help you reach this diet easier.

How much weight can be lost if you eat 1000 calories per day?

An average person may lose between 1 and 3 lbs per week when eating 1000 calories per day. It is not recommended to eat less than 1000 per day. 

Is it possible to drop lbs on 1500 calories a day?

The most common calorie reduction diet is 500 per day, which would equate to 1500 for the average woman and 2000 for a man. Thus, 1500 per day will help a person reach a calorie deficit. 

Where does the fat go during weight reduction?

When a person loses weight, they also lose fat. The fat that is lost is converted into carbon dioxide and water. Water is passed through the body as urine or sweat. Then, the carbon dioxide is exhaled. The majority of fat that is lost is exhaled. 

What exercise burns the most calories?

High-intensity cardiovascular exercises burn the most calories. This includes running, cycling, and swimming. 

With all of that in mind, let us tell you our final thoughts on the calorie deficit diet:

Bottom Line

Although there are hundreds of diets out there that claim to result in weight loss, all of them need a calorie deficit to work. Hence why following the calorie deficit diet is promising. 

A calorie deficit of around 500 calories per day along with regular exercise will most likely be successful for anyone. This combination of food and exercise is safe, sustainable, and a healthy way to lose weight.

Diets do not need to involve food restrictions or excessive fasting to work. The traditional approaches are the most efficient. This article will guide you through your calorie deficit diet. Use it as a guide, calculator, and more.

For any more questions or comments, share them with us below.

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