Everything You Need to Know About Calorie Deficit for Weight Loss

When we think of ways to reduce weight, the first thing that springs to mind is exercise! Physical activities are typically recommended to people who want to initiate their weight loss journey or lose weight quickly, but new research has revealed that your food is more crucial in your weight loss journey than how much exercise you do each day. Working out hard in the gym is certainly beneficial for your health and also accelerates weight loss, but one should also keep a close eye on their diet and daily food! 

The first and most important guideline of any weight loss plan is to set realistic objectives for yourself. For example, you should not expect to lose 10 kilograms in a week because that is simply not achievable with food and exercise alone! As a result, always begin your weight loss journey with achievable goals. Next, create a schedule of your daily activities, including eating, workout, and sleep schedules. A calorie-deficit diet is the best way to achieve weight loss. In this blog, we will learn how a calorie-deficit diet can help you lose weight in a safe and effective way.  

What is a Calorie Deficit? 

A calorie deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than you burn over time. If you expend 2000 calories per day but only consume 1500, you will be in a 500-calorie deficit. A calorie deficit can also be stated as ingesting 2000 calories per day but burning 2500. 

You can achieve a calorie deficit through food and exercise in two ways: eating less or exercising more, or a combination of the two. 

Caloric deficits are the single most essential element in weight loss. Whatever the latest diet craze is, the common factor with successful weight loss strategies is a calorie deficit. Whether you cut carbohydrates and fat or fast intermittently, it all requires a calorie deficit to observe weight loss. 

A kilo of body fat contains around 7,700 calories, and reducing weight at a rate of 0.5-1 kilo per week has been found to be healthy and sustainable.  

How to calculate calories to attain a calorie deficit? 

Calculating a calorie deficit involves determining how many calories you need to consume daily to achieve your weight loss goals. Here's a step-by-step guide to calculate your calorie deficit:

1. Determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR):

The first step to calculate your calorie deficit is to calculate your BMR using the appropriate formula.

Equations for Prediction of BMR (KCal/24 hours)


Age (Years)

Prediction equation

proposed by FAO/WHO/UNU

(Consultation (2004)



15.1 * B.W. (Kg) + 692.2



11.5 * B.W. (Kg) + 873



11.7 * B.W. (Kg) + 587.7



14.8 * B.W. (Kg) + 486.6



8.1 * B.W. (Kg) + 845.6



9.1 * B.W. (Kg) + 685.5

[BMR of Indians is 10% and 9% lower for males and females respectively than the international values (FAO/WHO/UNU, 2004)]

Factor in your activity level:

Once you have your BMR, multiply by your activity level to calculate your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) or Total Energy Requirement. Multiply your BMR by an activity factor that corresponds to your level of physical activity. For example:

Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.40
Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.80
Heavy work (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days/week): BMR x 2.30 

Set your weight loss goal:

Set your goals when on a calorie deficit or following a calorie deficit diet. Decide how many kilograms you want to lose per week. A safe and easy-to-maintain rate of weight loss is typically 0.5 to 1 kg per week.

Calculate your calorie deficit and set a safe calorie deficit:

To calculate your calorie deficit, subtract the desired calorie intake for weight loss from your TDEE. For example, if your TDEE is 2,000 calories per day, and you want to lose 0.5 kg (1 pound) per week, you would aim for a calorie deficit of approximately 500 calories per day (3,500 calories per week).

Plan your diet:

Focus on a balanced and nutritious diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid excessive intake of sugary and high-calorie foods.

Monitor and adjust:

Keep track of your daily calorie intake and make adjustments to your diet and exercise as needed to stay on track with your calorie deficit and weight loss goals.

Let’s understand with an example using the BMR prediction formula: If you are male, sedentary with a bodyweight- 80 kg, height-165.09 cm, Age- 20 years), Your TDEE will be 2394. On subtracting 500 calories (safe calorie deficit limit), your daily calorie intake should be 1894.2 calories for a calorie deficit, leading to weight loss. 

Effects of Calorie Deficit on the Human Body 

When a person consumes fewer calories than their body expends, they have a calorie deficit. While calorie deficit can help with weight loss, it is also necessary to follow calorie deficit in a safe way. Not following calorie deficit in a safe way can lead to a number of side effects on the human body. Initially, stored fat is burned for energy, resulting in progressive weight loss. While a moderate calorie deficit is safe long term, prolonged excessive calorie deficit can cause side effects such as muscle loss, weakness, and nutritional deficiencies. To make your calorie deficit healthy and avoid unwanted effects, proper hydration and adequate eating are required. Always aim for a moderate and safe calorie deficit under supervision to achieve long-term weight loss and general health.

Positive effects of a calorie deficit

A calorie deficit, when approached in a balanced and controlled manner, can have positive effects on the human body. When the body burns more calories than it consumes, it taps into its fat stores for energy, leading to weight loss and improved body composition. This reduction in body weight can alleviate strain on joints and improve mobility, particularly for individuals with excess weight.

The caloric deficit has also been associated with various health benefits. A calorie deficit may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, promoting heart health. Additionally, some studies suggest that calorie restriction might enhance longevity and reduce the risk of age-related diseases. However, further research is required.

Moreover, a caloric deficit can act as a motivator for adopting healthier dietary habits and increasing physical activity, leading to an overall healthier lifestyle. However, it's crucial to create a moderate and safe calorie deficit and prioritise nutrient-dense foods to avoid adverse effects on metabolism and overall well-being.

Negative effects of calorie deficit 

An extended calorie deficit can lead to negative effects on the body. Slower metabolism, muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue, and hormonal imbalances may occur. Exercise performance may decline, and the immune system can weaken, increasing susceptibility to illnesses. Drastic calorie deficits may also promote disordered eating patterns. It is vital to approach weight loss with moderation, ensuring adequate nutrition and avoiding extreme calorie deficits to maintain overall health and well-being.

How does Calorie deficit help in weight loss?

A calorie deficit is crucial for weight loss as it creates an energy imbalance where the body burns more calories than it consumes. This calorie deficit forces the body to utilise stored fat for energy, leading to gradual weight reduction. By consistently maintaining a calorie deficit, individuals can lose excess body weight over time. However, it is essential to create a moderate calorie deficit and focus on nutrient-dense foods to support overall health and well-being. Combining a calorie deficit with regular physical activity can further enhance weight loss results and promote a sustainable and healthier lifestyle. 

Why are you not losing weight on a calorie deficit?

Not losing weight on a calorie deficit could be due to several reasons. It's possible that your calorie intake is high and calorie expenditure is low, leading to metabolic slowdown. Nutrient deficiencies or excessive stress may hinder progress. Reevaluate your diet, exercise, and seek professional advice for effective weight loss while being on a calorie deficit. 

Best ways to lose weight by staying in a calorie deficit

To lose weight effectively on a calorie deficit, follow these steps. First, determine your daily calorie needs and create a moderate deficit (500 calories/day, a safe limit). For a calorie deficit, Focus on nutrient-dense, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. It is recommended to stay hydrated, avoid sugary drinks, and limit processed foods in a calorie-deficit diet. Incorporate regular exercise, combining cardio and strength training, to boost metabolism and preserve muscle while on a calorie deficit diet. Practice portion control and mindful eating. Keep a food journal and track progress to stay accountable. Get adequate sleep and manage stress to support weight loss.

Remember this point when following a calorie-deficit diet, it's essential to approach weight loss in a healthy and sustainable way. Crash diets or extreme calorie deficits can be dangerous for your health. Consulting with a team of professional nutritionists like Nutrition Daily can help you create a personalised weight loss plan that suits your individual needs and preferences.

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