How to calculate calorie deficit for weight loss

You create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than the body's maintenance calories. Reducing the body's daily calorie needs can lead to weight loss. Here's how to calculate calorie deficit.

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One easy way to calculate calorie deficit is by calculating your daily caloric need, keeping track of the number of calories you consume daily and eating about 500 calories less than your daily caloric need.

If you have listened to health experts talk about weight loss, you must have heard that a calorie deficit is required to achieve weight loss. You might have wondered what a calorie deficit means.

This article will explain what a calorie deficit is, how it affects weight loss, how to create a calorie deficit and how to calculate daily calorie needs.

What is a calorie deficit?

A calorie deficit occurs when an individual consumes fewer calories in a day than the number of calories they burn.

To function each day, the body needs to burn a certain number of calories. The number of calories an individual needs every day is called maintenance calories. An individual's maintenance calorie will depend on factors like:

  • Age
  • Sex
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Physical activity levels
  • Body composition

There are three ways of creating a calorie deficit. An individual can create a calorie deficit by increasing the level of physical activity. Another way to create a calorie deficit is by reducing the number of calories consumed; a person can also create a calorie deficit by doing both.

Why people create a calorie deficit

The primary reason people create a calorie deficit is to lose weight. Except for people who go for surgeries, there is no other shortcut to weight loss aside from eating fewer calories than it takes for the body to maintain its current weight or burning more calories than consumed.

Many people seeking weight loss strive for calorie deficit as a strategy for weight loss. This is because creating a calorie deficit offers an easier and faster way to lose weight.

People create a calorie deficit because it helps them achieve their weight loss goals in a well-calculated manner. The rule is simply this - burn more calories than consumed or consume fewer calories than the daily maintenance calories.

Calculating daily calorie needs

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Before creating a calorie deficit, there is a need to learn how to calculate daily body calorie needs. You can also find out your daily calorie needs using an online calorie calculator.

Daily calorie need, also called maintenance calories, is the number of calories the body needs daily to maintain its weight. Daily calorie need can also be defined as the number of calories the body requires to perform basic metabolic functions and daily physical activities.

Moderately active people can roughly calculate their daily calorie needs by multiplying their weight by 15.

Another way to calculate maintenance calories is by using basal metabolic rate (BMR) and activity level multiplier. In this case, the person's BMR is multiplied by a specific multiplier that is based on their activity level.

Using a calorie tracking app to track daily calorie intake is helpful for weight maintenance. You should also weigh yourself daily while maintaining the same level of daily activity.

It is also okay to talk to a doctor, dietician or nutritionist to help make an accurate caloric intake estimate. The health professionals will tailor the caloric intake estimates based on each individual's lifestyle.

How to create a calorie deficit

A person can create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories, increasing physical activity or both.

To create a calorie deficit through food intake, daily maintenance calories or the number of calories needed per week will be determined first.

After calculating the daily maintenance calorie, the next step is to determine how much fat the individual wants to lose and how fast they want to lose weight.

One pound of body fat contains about 3,500 calories. This means for a person to lose one pound of fat within 7 days, they would need a deficit of 3,500 calories within that 7 days. An easy way to achieve this is to create a 500 calorie deficit per day till the 7th day.

A person can create a calorie deficit of 6,000 calories a week. However, a calorie deficit shouldn't exceed 7,000 calories per week. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it is best to lose weight gradually and steadily.

As a person lose weight, the maintenance calories will reduce over time, and there will be a need to adjust the caloric intake based on the individual's weight loss goals.

Tips for eating fewer calories

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Reducing calorie intake to create a calorie deficit doesn't take much. It doesn't necessarily require drastic or too many changes. There are simple things you can do to reduce calorie intake and help you lose weight.

Below are some helpful tips for eating fewer calories:

  • Eliminate intake of sugary beverages like fruit juices and soda
  • Limit consumption of highly processed foods like fast foods and desserts
  • Eat more home-cooked meals
  • Reduce intake of alcoholic beverages
  • Dish food with smaller sized plates
  • Incorporate vegetables into your foods
  • Eat more fruits and use them as snacks
  • Drink enough water

Counting calories

One way to keep track of calorie intake is by counting calories. Counting calories involves knowing how many calories you are eating.

For instance, if you are consuming a plate of rice with chicken and salad, it is important to know how many calories are contained in rice, chicken and salad. This helps you stick with your daily maintenance calories.

Keeping a food diary makes it easier to count calories. To use a food diary, a person has to write down every food consumed and also find out each food item's calorie count. It will also help to download an app that counts calories.

Some websites and apps help simplify the process of calorie counting. Here are some of the best websites or apps for counting calories are:


A calorie deficit is a pathway to weight loss. A calorie deficit is created when a person consumes fewer calories than the body uses. It is best not to exceed a calorie deficit of 1000 calories per day.

A calorie deficit of 500 calories daily is effective for sustainable and healthy weight loss. Calorie counting helps keep track of calorie intake. Also, reducing the consumption of highly processed foods is an effective strategy for weight loss.