Trying to lose weight? You need to be low on calories, and that means eating and drinking fewer calories than you burn.
There are two ways to create a calorie deficit:
- Reduce your calorie intake – change what you eat and how much
- Increase calorie consumption – in the form of exercise
How does a calorie deficit help you lose weight? It puts you in a ‘catabolic’ state, when the body is breaking down muscle and fat for energy.
If you cut 500 calories a day from what you normally eat, you can lose about 1 pound – 0.5kg – a week, which is a healthy amount according to CDC Guidelines (opens in a new tab). The best exercise machine for weight loss (opens in a new tab) May also help reduce body fat.
Here’s what research – and experts – say about the calorie deficit.
What is a calorie deficit?
Calories are units of energy that we get from food and drinks. To lose body fat, you need to reduce your calorie intake – that is, eat fewer calories than you burn.
Nutritionist and PT Alex Parren says, “A calorie deficit is when you take in fewer calories than you expend in a day. Each person has a unique basal metabolic rate (BMR), which tells how many calories their body burns just by performing normal daily functions, such as breathing, digesting food, waste elimination and cognitive function.
“Factors that affect BMR include age, sex, height and body weight. Imagine your BMR as the calories you would burn if you were in bed and slept all day. It doesn’t take into account your lifestyle and most people’s BMR will be pretty low – around 1,500 calories for an adult.”
On an average day, you’ll burn more calories than this when you’re standing up and moving. In general, the average woman needs about 2,000 calories per day to maintain her weight and 1,500 to lose 1 pound per week. The average man needs to consume about 2,500 to stay at the same weight, or 2,000 to lose 1 pound a week.
Research published in Boundaries in Physiology (opens in a new tab) suggests that performing muscle-building exercises along with a calorie deficit will also help the body prioritize fat loss over just muscle.
What role does it play in weight loss?
The body uses calories obtained from food to fuel your metabolism, digestion, and physical performance. When the number of calories you are eating equals the number of calories you are burning for energy, your weight will remain at a stable level.
When the body’s energy needs are met, any extra calories are stored – some in muscle as glycogen (the main fuel source for our cells), but most as fat. . So if you eat more calories than you burn – known as a calorie surplus – this will cause weight gain. Conversely, if you consume less food than you need for energy, you will lose weight.
“There is some research that shows that a calorie deficit is the only way to lose weight,” says Parren. Any kind of diet – whether it’s Diet (opens in a new tab)the Diet (opens in a new tab)or Keto (opens in a new tab) – Rely on a calorie deficit to work. Do not exceed a 500-calorie daily deficit.
“However, I recommend that people reach this deficit by burning more calories than by restricting food intake. Meaning, burn your 500 calories per day through cardiovascular exercise and resistance training, rather than reducing the amount you eat. The reason is that it is less likely to lead to cravings and eating disorders,” she says.
How can you achieve a calorie deficit?
To reach a calorie deficit, you first need to work out your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the number of calories your body needs to meet its basic (basal) life-sustaining needs at rest. rest. There are many calculators online to help you do this.
“Once you know your BMR, you need to include factors like your activity level and fitness level,” says Parren. This calculation is your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, or TDEE, which is a more accurate representation of how many calories you actually burn in a day.
“Your TDEE will take into account the number of steps you take in a day, your job activity level (descending all day versus manual labor), and even activities like gardening or walking the dog. . After you have a number for your TDEE, you can calculate how many calories you need to eat to stay in a deficit.
“The calorie deficit is any number below Your TDEE and one pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. So if you’re 500 calories short every day for seven days, you’ll lose about 1lb per week.
“More specifically, if your TDEE is 2,500 calories, you would need to eat 2,000 calories per day to lose 1lb per week.”
Remember once you start losing weight, you’ll need to recalculate your TDEE to work out your new daily calorie deficit figure. “Once you’ve lost weight, eat at a maintenance level — the same number of calories as your TDEE — to make sure you don’t gain the weight back,” says Parren.