If you’ve ever tried to lose weight, you’ve probably heard about the importance of a calorie deficit – but what does that mean?
He explains that being in a calorie deficit simply means “you eat fewer calories than your body uses.” Dana HoenessPhD, MPH, RD, senior dietitian at Ronald Reagan University of California Medical Center.
You can have a slight calorie deficit or a significant calorie deficit, depending on how many calories you remove from your diet, he says. Emily TellsMS, RDN, CDN.
Of course, this is not as easy in practice as it is in theory, as you already know if you’ve ever tried to reduce your calorie intake. Tells adds that if you’re in a calorie deficit long enough, your body may metabolic adaptation to conserve energy.
Here’s what you need to know about creating a calorie deficit and avoiding potential risks.
How many calories do you need to eat each day?
Before you can create a calorie deficit in your diet, you will need to know how many calories your body needs each day to maintain your current weight.
according to Dietary Guidelines for AmericansThe average man between the ages of 21 and 50 needs between 2,200 and 2,400 calories per day. A sedentary woman in the same age group needs between 1,800 and 2,000 calories per day.
However, the exact number of calories needed to lose or keep weight It is individual for you. It can be affected by many factors, including muscle mass, fat mass, nutrition, diet history, and general health history, says Tells.
You don’t have to discover all of these things on your own. “There are predictive equations that can be used to approximate the number of calories we need per day,” Hunnes explains.
One good example is the National Institute of Health body weight chart, which affects your gender, height, current weight and activity level. But while this can be a useful tool, your best bet is to consult with a registered dietitian who can give you their professional opinion and a personalized plan for you.
Once you have that number, find out how close or far away you are from it by tracking what you eat and drink for a week. From there, you can calculate how many calories you’ll need to cut from your typical eating plan each day to address a calorie deficit.
How do you suffer from a calorie deficit?
According to Hunnes, you can address a calorie deficiency in three different ways: through diet alone, through exercise alone, or through a combination of the two. (If you rely on exercise for part of your calorie deficit, be aware that we often overestimate the calories burned during exercise, and cardio calculators aren’t always accurate.)
Tells suggests, “Start with a light deficit of 200 to 300 calories to help with fat loss and weight loss.” For example, if you are currently eating 2,000 calories per day, start your calorie deficit by targeting 1,700 to 1,800 calories instead.
Hunnes says if you’re on the heavier side, you may be able to start with a bigger calorie deficit.
However, before starting anything, consult a registered dietitian and your doctor – and make sure you’re not eating deficient so much that it negatively affects your health.
The next step is to determine how long you plan to tackle a calorie deficit. Tells recommends setting a time-based goal — for example, you might plan to run a four-month calorie deficit, followed by a one-month break when you’re maintaining calories.
This can be more beneficial than a weight-based goal (“I’ll be short on calories until I reach my target weight”) because a weight-based goal doesn’t take into account any The muscle mass you gain Or the hormonal fluctuations you encounter along the way.
Even when you have a calorie deficit, it is normal to lose weight stop at a certain point. “Many people stabilize at some point during weight loss as their bodies adjust to the new energy intake,” Hunnes explains. If this happens, reassess your baseline for how many calories you need per day. When you lose weight, your body needs fewer calories, so you may need to recalculate How many calories do you need to lose weight.
7 ways to reduce calorie intake
When you’re just starting to run into a calorie deficit, you’ll want to look for low-fat fruits. This means prioritizing the easiest ways to cut calories first. Here are seven simple tactics to help you cope with a calorie deficit.
- Remove added sugar from your diet.
- Reduce your “liquid calories” from juiceAnd the SodaAnd the alcohol.
- Measures cooking oils. (This contains about 120 calories per tablespoon!) Or use cooking spray instead, like this Avocado Oil Mist.
- Bake, grill, or steam foods rather than frying them.
- Use smaller portions of calorie-rich toppings like mayonnaise, sour cream, and guacamole, and be extra vigil when eating these sauces.
- Replace lower-fat versions of dairy products.
- Choose lean cuts of meat.