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How to Calculate a Caloric Deficit?

27th March 2023

Losing weight is a common goal for many people, but it can be difficult to know where to start. One important factor to consider is the number of calories you consume versus the number of calories you burn. To lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit, which means consuming fewer calories than your body burns.


Calculating a calorie deficit may sound daunting, but it's actually quite simple. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Determine your basal metabolic rate (BMR) Your BMR is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain basic bodily functions, such as breathing and circulation. There are many online calculators that can help you estimate your BMR based on your age, gender, height, and weight.
  2. Factor in your activity level Your BMR only accounts for the calories your body burns at rest, but you also burn calories through physical activity. To get a more accurate estimate of your daily calorie needs, you'll need to factor in your activity level. You can do this by using a multiplier based on your daily activity level. For example:
    • Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
    • Lightly active (light exercise or sports 1-3 days a week): BMR x 1.375
    • Moderately active (moderate exercise or sports 3-5 days a week): BMR x 1.55
    • Very active (hard exercise or sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
    • Extra active (very hard exercise or sports, physical job or training twice a day): BMR x 1.9
  3. Determine your daily calorie needs Once you've factored in your activity level, you'll have an estimate of your daily calorie needs. For example, if your BMR is 1,500 calories and you're moderately active, your daily calorie needs would be 1,500 x 1.55 = 2,325 calories.
  4. Create a calorie deficit to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit by consuming fewer calories than your body burns. A safe and sustainable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, which equates to a deficit of 500-1,000 calories per day. For example, if your daily calorie needs are 2,325 calories, you would need to consume 1,325-1,825 calories per day to create a deficit of 500-1,000 calories.

It's important to note that you shouldn't create too large of a calorie deficit, as this can be unsustainable and may lead to muscle loss, nutrient deficiencies, and other health issues. It's also important to focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods that provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients it needs to function properly.


Here's a concrete example:

Let's say a 30-year-old woman weighs 150 pounds and is 5'6". She leads a moderately active lifestyle, with regular exercise and a physically active job. Using an online calculator, her BMR is estimated to be 1,429 calories.

To factor in her activity level, we'll multiply her BMR by 1.55, which gives us an estimate of 2,216 calories for her daily calorie needs.

To create a calorie deficit, she wants to aim for a safe and sustainable rate of weight loss, which is 1-2 pounds per week. This means she needs to create a daily deficit of 500-1,000 calories.e damage and promote recovery. On the other hand, eating the wrong foods before a workout can cause discomfort and negatively impact your performance.

If she aims for a 500-calorie deficit, she would need to consume 1,716 calories per day (2,216 - 500 = 1,716). If she aims for a 1,000-calorie deficit, she would need to consume 1,216 calories per day (2,216 - 1,000 = 1,216).

It's important to note that this is just an estimate, and everyone's calorie needs and weight loss goals may differ. It's also important to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any weight loss program.

To help achieve a calorie deficit, there are a few tips to keep in mind:

  1. Track your food intake: Use a food journal or tracking app to keep track of the calories you consume throughout the day.
  2. Focus on nutrient-dense foods: Choose foods that are high in nutrients but low in calories, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
  3. Watch portion sizes: Pay attention to serving sizes and avoid overeating.
  4. Increase physical activity: In addition to reducing calorie intake, increasing physical activity can also help create a calorie deficit. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week.

By following these tips and creating a calorie deficit, you can achieve safe and sustainable weight loss. Remember to focus on making healthy lifestyle changes that you can stick with long-term, rather than quick fixes that may not be sustainable.

To easily follow and calculate a caloric deficit you can use a meal plan generator such as AutoMealPlanner. Just choose your foods preferences and caloric intake and generate a custom diet that fits your preferences in seconds.

Create and customize a meal plan that fits your macros instantly