If you want to change your lifestyle and eat for weight loss, you might have come across the idea of being in a calorie deficit. Being in a calorie deficit might sound confusing at first, but the idea of it is actually pretty simple; it involves eating less calories than your body expends each day so that you will use energy from your fat storage and eventually lose extra weight as a result. 

Is Being in a Calorie Deficit the Best Option for Me?

Eating less calories than you use each day is proven to be one of the best options for weight loss and unlike many fad diets, it doesn’t mean cutting out any food or restricting yourself. While it’s important to make healthier choices with your meals and snacks, the best part of counting calories is that you are free to eat anything you like as long as it is within your daily calorie allowance. 

However, being in a calorie deficit is not always suitable for everybody. If you are under the age of 18, have an adrenal-related medical condition, are taking any prescription medication, or are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to speak to your doctor before reducing your calories. 

What Are Calories?

First things first – what’s a calorie? One calorie is a unit of measurement, and the exact amount of energy that would be needed to raise the temperature of 1kg of water by 1 degree Celsius. It is a unit of heat, which is why we refer to ‘burning’ them during exercise and simply by being alive. 

What is a Calorie Deficit?

While it’s a pretty common phrase in the health and fitness industry, what does being in a calorie deficit actually mean? Simply put, it refers to only eating fewer calories each day than your body needs to maintain your current weight. Eating anything between three hundred to five hundred calories per day less than your body needs to maintain your current weight is the healthiest choice for weight loss. In general, 3,500 calories will equate to one pound of fat, which is why eating 500 calories less per day is recommended for people who want to lose a healthy amount of 1lb per week – although our bodies don’t always work this way, so don’t be disheartened if your weight doesn’t change one week since you might weigh two pounds less the week after. 

How to Calculate Your Calorie Deficit

If you want to work out how many calories for weight loss you will need to eat each day, you’ll need to begin with figuring out your basal metabolic rate (BMR). This is the number of calories that your body will burn each day simply being alive. If you were to spend all day lying in bed doing nothing, this would be the number of calories that you’d burn just by existing. You can use the following equation to work out your BMR:

(10 x your weight in kg) + (6.25 x your height in cm) – (5 x your age in years) – 161. If math isn’t your strong point, there are plenty of online calculators that will do it for you in seconds. 

Once you know your BMR, you can figure out your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) by multiplying it by your daily activity level. Consider how much activity you do throughout the day to determine how much you’ll need to multiply your BMR by to get your TDEE. 

If you do:

Little to no exercise: Multiply by 1.2

Light exercise 1-3 times per week: Multiply by 1.375

Moderate exercise 3-5 times per week: Multiply by 1.55

Physical job or heavy exercise daily: Multiply by 1.75

Once you have figured out your TDEE, all you need to do is subtract around 300-500 calories from the final figure to work out what your daily calorie goal should be to remain in a deficit. Some people like to work out a daily goal, while others work it out on a weekly basis so that they can have a day or two in the week with a bigger calorie allowance. For example, if your daily calorie allowance is 1500 per day to stay in a deficit, you might want to eat 1300 per day Monday to Friday, so that you can have 1700 on each weekend day. 

When done correctly, being in a calorie deficit is a great way to lose weight. However, it is important to make sure that you are not restricting your calorie intake too excessively since this can lead to fatigue and may even have the opposite effect on weight loss. When eating in a calorie deficit, it’s important to fill up with nutritious foods.