calorie deficit to lose weight

Calorie Deficit: All You Need to Know to Lose Weight

Calorie deficit is the first and most important requirement to lose weight. If you are in a calorie deficit, you lose weight.

Have you ever tried to lose weight? More than half U.S population tried to lose weight over the last year... but only small fraction got to lose all the weight they wanted.

What is a calorie deficit? How can I create a calorie deficit? Scroll down and find out!

What’s the Calorie Deficit?

Our food contains calories. And we burn calories as well.

The calories in food is a measure of how much energy it provides to our organism (source), as well as an indicator of how much energy we are burning when practicing your favourite sport, or cleaning your room.

You take calories, and you burn them. There’s a calorie balance being established during the day.

calorie balance

When you eat less calorie than you burn, you are in a calorie deficit. Your body needs more energy than that you are providing with, and it will take some of the molecules stored in your body (a bit cannibalist), to produce energy.

Calorie deficit is the first and most important requirement to lose weight (source)

The CICO Model

There’s a calorie flow in your everyday life. You take calories, and you burn them. And to that, we call it the CICO Model.

Calories In = Calories Out

This model follows the 1st Law of Thermodynamics: “Matter cannot be created nor destroyed, but transformed”

All the energy you take through food must be either burned or stored in our body. This is why burning more than you eat (a.k.a Calorie Deficit) will make you lose weight.

Following the CICO Model, we can have different scenarios:

Calorie Balance for Weight Loss Diet

If you want to lose weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. But how much of a calorie deficit should you do?

How Much of a Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight?

If being in a calorie deficit helps you lose weight then... the more the better right?

The more calorie deficit, the more weight you’ll lost, and the faster you’ll get to your goals.

Well, bad news... it doesn’t work that way

Higher calorie deficit means faster weightloss, but there are some consequences attached to it. These include muscle loss (source), health issues (source), and disturbment of your metabolism (source)

The safe and recommended calorie deficit to lose weight is 500 calories per day (source)

Since 7000 calories of calorie deficit result in 1kg lost, aiming for 500 calories per day will take you out 0.5kg every week.

Doing this calorie deficit will make sure you stay healthy, and you are optimizing fat loss while minimizing muscle loss as much as possible

How to Create a Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight

Now you know what’s a calorie deficit and how much of a calorie deficit you should aim for to lose weight safely. Now the big question arises: how do you create the calorie deficit?

If you go back to the CICO model, you’ll notice you have two possibilities to create a calorie deficit:

  • Lower dietary intake
  • Increase physical activity
healhty eating

Lower Dietary Intake

The first way you can create a calorie deficit is by lowering the “Calories In” side of the equation. As simple as it sounds. Eat less than what you burn.

Start by planning your weight loss diet. Know how many calories you need to take, and plan your diet according to that.

Once you have the diet planned, you can use some tricks to create the calorie deficit while still enjoying your diet:

  • Choose low calorie foods
  • Less, but bigger meals
  • High-protein diet
  • Be flexible and eat following the 20/80 rule

Increase Physical Activity

You can also increase the “Calories Out” term. And this is where it gets interesting.

Calories out is formed by:

TDEE formula

Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): calories we spend by simply living

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): calories used to perform non-exercise related conscious activities

Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (EAT): calories burned when doing exercise or any other physical activity

Thermic Effect of Foods (TEF): calories used to absorb and digest the food

From this model, we can mainly play with one term to increase “Calories Out”: EAT. Increasing our physical activity, we burn more calories, and it’s easier to create a calorie deficit and lose weight.

To increase physical activity and create a calorie deficit, you can:

  • Make longer workouts
  • Include cardio sessions
  • Increase your daily steps goal
  • Make small changes in your lifestyle to move more (take stairs, walk, take the bike,...)


Calorie deficit is the first and most important requirement to lose weight. If you are in a calorie deficit, you'll lose weight.

In this post we've seen what's calorie deficit and how much you need to lose weight safely and effectively.

If you have any questions, please leave it below in the comments section 🙂

1 thought on “Calorie Deficit: All You Need to Know to Lose Weight”

  1. Pingback: Step-By-Step to Plan the Perfect Weight Loss Diet » TrainingbyScience

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