calorie counter, calorie deficit

Calorie deficit for Weight loss – What is calorie deficit? How much is safe?

Calorie deficit | Calculator | Body uses energy | Maintenance calorie | Safe calorie deficit | Best way to achieve calorie deficit | Tips | Caloric deficit and weight loss | Calorie deficit vs ketogenic diet | Possible downside | Conclusion

If you have ever tried to lose weight, you may have heard about the calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is an important key in losing weight. A calorie deficit is also called an energy deficit.

In this article, we will talk about calorie deficit, how much calorie deficit is healthy, and how to lose weight healthily based on scientific evidence.

What is a calorie deficit?

Calories are energy that you get from food or anything you eat or drink, and you burn more calories than consumed, is called calorie deficit.

Everything that you eat or drink contains energy in the form of calories. Humans consume calories for the body to work properly. 

But when we eat more calories than we need is called calorie surplus. These extra calories are stored as fat. 

When we consume fewer calories than we burn. Our body doesn’t get enough calories to perform necessary actions and this is a calorie deficit. [1]

Our body uses this stored fat to fill the energy gap and ultimately we lose fat and weight. The body uses this stored fat from thighs, belly, hips, waist and from all body parts.


A calorie deficit is a shortage of calories that you need to perform all body functions properly.

Calorie deficit weight loss calculator

calorie counter, calorie deficit

Where our body uses energy?

Before creating a calorie deficit you should know what are the maintenance calories for you. Maintenance calories mean calories you need to take just maintain your regular days routine without gaining or losing weight.

But before that, you should know how our body spends our calories [2]

1. Resting energy expenditure (REE)

REE is the calories our body uses at rest or these are the calories our body needs to be alive and perform basic functions such as blood circulation, run heart, and brain, breathing, etc. [3][4][5]

Resting energy expenditure can be estimated by using the Harris-Benedict equation which was revised by Mifflin and St Jeor in 1990 [6][7][8][9]

  • For males: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) + 5
  • For females: BMR = (10 × weight in kg) + (6.25 × height in cm) – (5 × age in years) – 161

Although calculating calories need with formula is not that accurate. We will discuss another more accurate and practical way to calculate calories-need special for you. 

2. Thermic effect of food

It is the energy required for absorption, digestion, storage, and disposal of undigested nutrients. Its magnitude depends upon what kind of food you are eating.[10][11][12][13]

If you are eating more protein in your food, it will require more energy to digest. If you are eating more and more fiber, Thermic effect of food can increase drastically.

Some foods such as grapefruit have negative caloric balance means they require more energy to digest than contained. 

  • Carbohydrates: 5 to 15% [14][15][16]
  • Protein: 20 to 35% [14][15][16]
  • Fats: at most 5 to 15% [17][18]

In general, the Thermic effect of food requires about 10% of the total energy required.

3. Activity energy expenditure

This refers to the caloric needs to perform daily tasks like exercising, playing sports to washing dishes at home.

Generally, Activity energy expenditure uses 25% to 30% of total energy. [19][20][21]

Total Energy Expenditure 

There are three main processes where we use our energy Resting energy expenditure (REE) which accounts for 55% – 65% of total energy expenditure, the thermal effect of feeding accounts for about 10% of total energy expenditure, and activity energy expenditure accounts for about 25% – 30% of total energy expenditure.

If you want to take the idea in generals and a person with a sedentary lifestyle needs 30-35 calories/kg and young people need more energy, they may require 35-40 calories/kg with adjustment upward or downward of 200 calories. Make these adjustments if your weight changes biweekly up or down. [22][23]


There are three components of total energy expenditure that can give you an idea of how much calories your body needs

These are mathematical equations, although these all data from trusted sources. You can also calculate this with the help of an online calculator. But, every person’s body works differently, they have different metabolism, health issue, etc. So, we need to find out the total calorie needs accurately specific for our body.

We can calculate daily calorie-need at home and with very accurately.

You can create a calorie deficit by using an online calculator Body Weight Planner from the National Institute of Health. This calculator estimates maintenance calories for your body based on weight, age, height, sex, and physical activity level.

How to calculate maintenance calorie needs for specially for your body?

To calculate exact maintenance calories to support the energy expenditure of your body. You need to track your body weight and calorie intake for 10 days.

10 days very precise maintenance calories calculator

Step 1:- Start with weighing yourself

Weigh yourself with little clothing as much as possible or nothing at all. You need to weigh your precisely at the end of the 10 days, it will help you to calculate your maintenance calories. Remember to 1kg weight will be made with 7000 kcal.

Step 2:- Track your calorie intake

This is a very important step. Most of the people do not calculate precisely how many calories they are taking in. you can use lots of calorie calculators. Calculators are available online for free and also available for android or iOS

Add information to these calculators accurately. Just know calorie intake Presley, it doesn’t matter what method you are using.

Step 3:- Do not change your daily routine

Do not change your daily routine. Just do the physical activity like you are doing your own regular days and will keep doing upcoming days. Our main focus to know how much calories you burn throughout the day on regular days.

Step 4:- After 10 days weigh yourself

At the end of the day again weigh yourself. Weigh yourself at the same time and with the same clothes as 10 days before. If your weight is stable now you get your answer. But, if not do some math.

Step 5:- Do some math

If your weight after 10 days is the same as before, then your maintenance calories are average calories of 10 days. You can easily calculate the average calories of 10 days if you have a record of 10 day’s calories.

But, if your weight is up or down by 1 or 2 pounds. Then you need to subtract or add some calories from an average calorie of 10 days.

Most probably your weight can go up or down by 1 pound. 

1 pound body fat produces 3500 kcal.

Take an average of 3500 kcal of 10 days, which is 350 kcal. Subtract 350 kcal from average calories of 10 days if your weight goes up, and add if your weight goes down.

This is the most accurate method to calculate maintenance calories of your body. Because this method includes your metabolism rate, your sleep, the food you are eating, and your all health conditions major or minor.

The formula for a calorie deficit

Calories you need = maintenance calories – target deficit

Calories you need = 2000 – 500 = 1500

I need to consume 1500 calories a day in order to lose 1 pound per week or 9 kg per 20 weeks.


Calculate maintenance calories in a 10 day period. Just calculate your daily calorie intake precisely and weigh yourself 10 days before and after at the same time and with the same clothes or no clothes.

How much calorie deficit is safe?

A calorie deficit is a shortage of calories that you expend. But, how much calorie deficit is safe.

You should start with a calorie deficit of 10% of total calories. Increase your calorie deficit to 20% of the total calorie deficit. 

It is recommended that for a most people calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for healthy and steady weight loss without affecting hunger or energy level significantly.

Calorie deficit to lose 1 pound per week

If you want to lose 1kg body, you have to burn 7000 kcal. If you want to lose 1 kg per week you need to create about 1200 calorie deficit.

Creating a 1200 kcal calorie deficit per day is hard. So, we would go for 1 pound per week. [24]

To lose one pound per you need to create a 3500 kcal calorie deficit. You can easily create a 3500 calorie deficit a week, which is equivalent to 500 kcal a day. [25][26

But ensure that you are taking adequate nutrition and healthy weight loss.

Women should consume at least 1200 calories per day and men 1500 calories independent of a caloric deficit. [27]

The one and only best way to achieve calorie deficit – Combine Diet and Exercise

As you know calorie deficit is a shortage of calories. So, you need to create a shortage of calories.

You can create this shortage of calories by consuming fewer calories than normal or increasing your daily physical activity or by using both. [28][29][30][31]

Why is a calorie deficit through exercise important?

Department of Health and Human Services recommends that people should 150-300 moderate-intensity exercise or more than 75-minute vigorous-intensity exercise.

It is also recommended that people should muscle strength exercising for at least 2 days per week.

Why calorie deficit through diet is important? Or calorie deficit without exercise

It is always easier to consume fewer calories than exercising. Because physical exercising needs time, motivation, or energy. And lots of exercises are not that efficient in burning calories. [32][33][34][35][36] 

So, it is always recommended to create a calorie deficit through diet. It is easier to eat 500 fewer calories than exercising for 30-40 minutes.

Why you should achieve a calorie deficit through exercise and diet?

For healthy and steady weight loss you should mix them both. You should include cardio and muscle-strengthening training to your lifestyle for a healthy lifestyle and safe weight loss.

So, for a better lifestyle and effective weight loss combine exercise and diet to achieve a calorie deficit.

Creating a caloric deficit by using both will become very easy. You can eat 300 calories fewer and burn 200 calories with exercise. By using this method, you will be healthy and lose weight of 1 pound per week.

If you are routing continues on this track, you will lose 9 to 10 kg in just 20 weeks.


The best way to create a calorie deficit is by combining diet and exercise together. It will help you to healthy and sustained weight loss.

Tips to create a calorie deficit

There are a number of ways to achieve a calorie deficit. Some of them still are very effective in creating that energy gap between burning calories and consuming calories.

1. Appetite suppression

Appetite suppression is also a good way to consume fewer calories. But, suppress your appetite naturally do not use pills. 

You can suppress your appetite by.-

  • Eat appetite suppressant foods such as Cottage Cheese, oatmeal, legumes, avocado, etc.
  • Eat more fiber
  • Eat more protein
  • Exercise before meal
  • Eat dark chocolate

2. Boost your metabolism

Boosting metabolism helps in burning fat more efficiently. In fact, if your metabolism is good enough, you don’t need to create a calorie deficit. You will lose weight on yourself.

There are several to boost your metabolism – 

  • Eat spicy foods
  • Drink more cold water
  • Do some muscles strengthening exercise
  • Drink green tea
  • Consume more caffeine
  • Add some coconut oil to your diet.

3. Drink zero-calorie drinks

Eliminate sugary drinks from your lifestyle. These drinks do not make you full and despite that provide lots of calories which can contribute to weight gain. [54, 55]

You should sugary drinks such as fruit juices, soda, sweetened coffee, and tea.

4. Avoid highly processed food

Highly processed food such as fast food, desserts, breakfast cereal, contain lots of calories and also encourage exercise consumption. [37][38]

These foods also lack in nutrients, fiber, proteins, vegetables, etc.

Minimally processed foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, protein, vegetables, etc.

5. Make a meal at home

People who make their food at home more often tend to eat 100 calories fewer than those who do not. [39]

It will also save your money.

6. Do some cardio

Cardio can also help with burning calories. There are a number of cardiovascular exercises that can help you to burn more and more calories.

15 Best Cardio Exercise to Burn Belly Very Fast

7. Walk more

Walking is the easiest exercise. You just need to walk more. Just 10,000 steps will help you to burn 500 calories. [40]

Caloric deficit and weight loss – is it effective in weight loss?

Yes, a calorie deficit is definitely effective in weight loss

In a study, it is found that independently the method for weight loss, energy deficit or negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction.

You need to make some dietary changes such as an increase in vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy are calories controlled components. [41][42][43][44]

These dietary changes will result in a reduction of total daily calorie intake. Fruit and vegetables are the most important factors in healthy weight loss. They contain fewer calories and provide more fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. [45

All these changes make you fuller, provide you fewer daily calories and provide you vitamins and minerals, which create a calorie deficit and results in healthy weight loss.

Calorie deficit vs ketogenic diet – what is better keto or calorie counting?

In both calorie counting and a ketogenic diet, you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight. Because if you eat more calories than maintenance calories than you are going to gain weight.

But, people report a keto diet is better. Because when you are simply just creating a simple calorie deficit it becomes very hard to restrict calories and people carve more and more. 

On a keto diet, your metabolic state is shifted toward ketosis, now your body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates naturally. And fat is already present (that’s you wanna lose weight) your body will burn this stored fat and you will feel less hungry. In other words, it becomes very easy to create a calorie deficit on a ketogenic diet than a normal diet.

But, on a keto diet, you can’t eat carbs and lots of other things that you can eat on carb counting. But it is harder to create a calorie deficit on a normal diet.

You need to decide what you can do better if you can restrict carbohydrates better go with a ketogenic diet. If you can restrict calories better and have patience than stick with a normal diet with a calorie deficit.

Calorie deficit side effects

You are restricting calories to weight loss, but there are some lower side of calories deficit if you are restricting calories too severely.

There are some potential downsides – 

1. Affect your metabolism

When our body does not get enough calories, it adapts that process and slower your metabolism.

In studies, it is also shown that low-calorie low-calorie diet also decreases the number of calories burn by the body as much as 20%. [46][47][48]

This lower metabolism can stop calories restricted diet. [49]

2. Nutrient Deficiency 

It is difficult to meet daily nutrient needs on a calories restricted diet. You may not get enough folate, iron, or vitamin B12.

3. Weaken bones

Restricting too many calories can weaken bone. Because calories restricting can reduce testosterone and estrogen level. Low levels of these hormones can cause a bone breakdown. [50][51][52][53]

4. Other side effects

There are some other side effects if you are eating too few calories.

  • Fatigue 
  • Muscle loss
  • Fertility issues
  • Constipation
  • Nausea 


You can create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than body burns. 

500 calories per day are effective and healthy for the long term and sustainable weight loss.

Creating a calorie deficit is not an easy task, but you should eat more fiber, protein, vegetable, and fruits.

You have to create a calorie deficit for weight loss no matter what method you are applying for weight loss.


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