How To Calculate A Calorie Deficit
Before we get into the calorie deficit calculator, it’s important to understand the concept of “calories in” vs “calories out”.
“Calories in” is the food you eat each day. Whereas “calories out” is the energy you burn.
When you burn more calories than you eat, you’re in a calorie deficit.
Calories In < Calories Out = Calorie Deficit
Related: 3 Powerful Calorie Deficit Tweaks To Lose More Weight
Most people choose to eat less to increase the calorie deficit. However, this is a slippery slope!
When you consistently under-eat, your metabolism slows down. And that makes it harder to lose weight.
Instead, you need to create a calorie deficit while eating enough to feed your metabolism for sustainable weight loss.
To do this, you need to understand how many calories you burn.
Generally, you burn calories in two ways – through your metabolism and your activity. Together, this is called TDEE (total daily energy expenditure).
First, the calories you burn just staying alive is called BMR (base metabolic rate). Including your heartbeat, breathing, and even blinking. While it may sound minor, BMR accounts for 60% to 80% of the calories you burn.
In addition, 10-20% of the calories you burn come from normal daily activities. Like walking around and digesting your food.
Related: 5 Foods That Burn More Calories
Finally, you burn another 10-20% by working out. To illustrate, the chart below shows percentages of calories burned on a typical day when you workout.
The key to creating a sustainable calorie deficit is to eat fewer calories than you burn but not less than your metabolism burns. In other words, target below total calories burned but above BMR.
In this example, a woman has a BMR of 1,600 calories. But she only burns 400 calories from normal activity and doesn’t exercise.
That means she shouldn’t have a deficit greater than 400 calories per day. Because if she did a 500 calorie deficit, her metabolism would slow – likely causing weight gain later.
However, she also wouldn’t lose much weight with such a small deficit. To lose weight faster she has to increase activity, not decrease calories!
In the chart above, she’s burning another 400 calories from exercise. Now her max calorie deficit is 800 calories per day. Meaning she could lose weight twice as fast!
But again, it’s best to target somewhere between BMR and total calories burned. That way you have room for adjustments.