How to Calculate a Calorie Deficit?

Your weight is a big determinant in your overall health. Over the years, many strategies have been invented aimed at reducing weight and controlling a healthy weight. One factor that keeps popping up in all these regimens is calories. Calories refer to the energy that you get from eating food. Since you’re always on the move, your body requires fuel to function. The energy from the calories you eat act as fuel to your every action. You see, your body’s caloric needs are unique. It requires a specific number of calories to work the way it does. If you take excess calories, it will be stored as fat, and you end up gaining weight. On the other hand, if you create a calorie deficit, your body burns fat to make up for the deficit. As a result, you lose weight. This post shows you how to create and calculate a calorie deficit.

Calorie Deficit

You can create a calorie deficit either by eating less, exercising more to burn more calories or a combination of both. For instance, if you need a calorie intake of 2500 daily, then you need to eat less than 2500 calories or work out to burn the calories. The deficit digs into the fat stored in your body, reducing your weight.

Working with numbers is not an exciting journey when trying to lose weight as it may kill your motivation or lead you to unhealthy eating habits since you may no longer enjoy your meals. Plus, losing weight is a personal preference and may not necessarily be determined by diet alone. So, if you really want to venture into the math of how many calories you need to be eating, let’s dig right in.

Step 1: Calculate Your Basal Metabolic Rate (MBR)

Before you begin, you should figure out how many calories you need to be consuming per day. This is achievable if you know your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the minimum number that your body burns when you’re resting. This helps you to determine the number of calories your body requires when doing involuntary functions such as digesting food, breathing, maintaining your blood circulation, and regulating body temperature. To get your BMR, here’s the formula:

  • For men – 66 + (6.23 x your weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) – 6.8 x age in years).
  • For women – 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) – (4.7 x age in years).

Step 2: Reduce Your Daily Caloric Intake

After figuring out your BMR, you’ll need to cut your daily caloric intake to create a deficit. The more calories you cut from your BMR, the bigger the caloric deficit, which translates to more weight loss. Experts recommend that you reduce your daily caloric intake by 500 if you want to lose 1 lb. per week and 1,000 calories for 2 lbs. per week. So, if you have a BMR of 2500 calories and want to lose 1 lb. per week, you should reduce your daily calorie intake to 2,000 calories.

Step 3: Increase Your Calorie Deficit

Like we mentioned earlier, you can burn more calories by exercising more. This is another way to increase your calorie deficit. One thing to note is that your BMR increases as you gain more muscles. On the other hand, more muscle increases your caloric intake in order to regenerate muscle tissue. However, having more muscle will also mean that the number of calories burned will be significantly increased even when you’re resting. You should also know that if you’re strength training, your numbers on the scale may not drop. In fact, they might even start to go up. But, this increase is due to muscle gain, not fat. This gives you a lean fit body that efficiently burns fat. Here’s a formula to help determine how many calories you’re burning through your exercises.

  • For men: [(-55.0960 + (0.6309 x heart rate beats per minute) + (0.438 x weight in pounds) + (0.2017 x age in years)] / 4.184
  • For women: [(-20.4022 + (0.4472 x heart rate in beats per minute) + (0.278 x weight in pounds) + (0.074 x age in years)] / 4.184

Now multiply the result you get by the duration of your exercise in minutes and then add the total number of calories for your BMR to get your daily caloric allowance.


You can tell from all those calculations that it’s kind of complicated and boring. Instead of all this, dietitians, nutritionists, and health experts recommend that you put your focus on the foods you eat rather than how much calories you’re consuming per day. It could be as simple as eating a combination of healthy meals, such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, seeds, nuts, and dairy. These are the type of foods that fill you up fast with fewer calories.

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