How to calculate caloric deficit in 3 steps

When it comes to losing weight or losing fat, a caloric deficit is a key to achieving good results. But what is a calorie deficit? Very easy; the body needs the energy to function and burns that energy in order to function. When you burn more energy than you consume, a calorie deficit occurs.

How to calculate caloric deficit correctly, you must know the calories consumed through food and drink and also know the calories expended through exercise.

how to calculate caloric deficit

Table of Contents

What are calories?

Calories are simply a measure of heat or energy. Technically, a calorie is the amount of heat it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius. When it comes to the human body, calories are a form of energy. For example, food contains the energy that our body needs, and exercise is the way to expend or burn that energy. When the body accumulates energy, it does so in the form of body fat.

What does caloric deficit mean and what is a caloric deficit?

A calorie deficit occurs in the body when fewer calories are consumed than are expended. For example, if a person consumes 1,500 calories a day but burns 2,000, they will have a 500 calorie deficit.

Depending on diet and exercise, you can create a How to calculate caloric deficit in two ways: by eating less or exercising more, or the more common way, by combining the two.

Do you want to know how many calories are in the food you eat every day? Don’t miss our food calorie table:

How much caloric deficit to lose weight

The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, the calorie deficit is the most important factor for weight loss. What’s more, no matter what type of diet you follow or what the current fad diet is, the common factor among the most effective weight-loss diets is the How to calculate caloric deficit.

1 kilo of body fat contains around 7,700 calories, and losing weight at a rate of 0.5 to 1 kilo per week has been shown to be safe and sustainable in the long term.

more post: Best 3 tips to diet and lose weight fast

how much caloric deficit to lose weight

How to calculate a calorie deficit in 3 steps

1. Calculate your daily maintenance calorie intake

To calculate your daily maintenance calorie intake, or the calories needed to maintain your weight, you need to know your height and your current weight. The first step is to calculate the basal metabolic rate (BMR), and for this, we will use the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.

Men: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) + 5

Women: BMR = 10 x weight (kg) + 6.25 x height (cm) – 5 x age (years) – 161

The basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that the body consumes in absolute rest, that is, staying in bed lying down all day.

The next step is to know the level of daily activity. To do this, we multiply the BMR by one of the activity factors in the following table.

If you think you are between two levels of activity, choose a number in between the two values.

Level of physical activityPhysical activity ratioDescription
Sedentary1.55Sitting most of the day without structured exercise
Moderately active1.85• Sedentary or not very active work with 1 hour of exercise a day• Active work (moderate movement 8+ hours per day) but without structured exercise
Very active2.2• Active work (moderate movement 8+ hours a day) and 1 hour of exercise a day• Sedentary or not very active work but 2 hours of exercise a day
Extremely active2.4• Train more than 2 hours per day• Moderately active work (walking all day) plus at least 1 hour of exercise a day

BMR x Activity Factor = Maintenance Calories

2. Adjust your calorie intake to lose weight

Now that you know your maintenance calories, let’s say 2,500 calories, the next step is to calculate the calorie intake needed to lose weight.

Remember that 1 kilo of body fat is equivalent to about 7,700 calories and the ideal is to lose between 0.5-1 kilo per week:

500 calorie per day deficit = 3,500 calorie per week deficit

700 calorie deficit per day = 4,900 calorie deficit per week

This is achieved with the combination of reducing calorie intake and increasing calorie burn. If you are already following a healthy and strict diet and do not know where else to reduce your calorie intake, you may need to increase the amount of physical exercise. But, if you think you can cut back and reduce your carbohydrate or fat intake, you can achieve the caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit through food without increasing your physical workload.

Keeping track of your daily caloric intake and weighing your food is very important to be able to do all these calculations. Our macro calculator can help you count the calories in your meals.

3. Adapt physical activity

Modifying your diet is only part of the calorie deficit because you also have to take exercise into account. The calories from food are added to the daily total, and the practice of exercise subtracts calories from the total. If the goal is to lose weight, the net caloric total should be about 500 calories below the BMR.

Calories from Food – Calories from Exercise = Net Calories

It is difficult to calculate exactly how many calories are burned during exercise, because it is not an exact science. The best way to calculate calorie burn during exercise is with a device that measures heart rate based on age, weight, and activity level. It can also be calculated with certain equations, but this method can be somewhat tedious.

How to be in a caloric deficit or how to create a caloric deficit

Here are some practical tips for creating a calorie deficit.

Make realistic changes

If you’re already starting from a healthy diet rich in protein, vegetables, and whole grains, you may not need to cut your calorie intake further. You will surely have to be more demanding with your workouts.

But, if you already give yourself to the maximum in your workouts but do not worry too much about your diet, maybe you should worry more about what you eat to start seeing progress.

Don’t cut calories too much

Now that you know that 1 kilo of body fat equals about 7,700 calories, you may think that a higher caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit will help you lose weight faster. But while too low a calorie intake or too large a calorie deficit allows for rapid weight loss, they are not sustainable in the long term. If you keep your calorie intake too low in the long term, your body adjusts and your BMR slows down, making losing weight more difficult.

Losing between 0.5 and 1 kilo per week has been shown to be the most sustainable and can surely be maintained in the long term.

Modify workouts

If you are doing everything right with the diet, but you think you may be failing in the workouts, make changes so that the body does not get used to the same stimuli. For example, instead of always jogging for 30 minutes on the gym treadmill, try doing a HIIT workout, or swapping the treadmill for the spinning bike.

Try cardio and strength training

Cardio is one of the most effective methods of burning calories, but training with weights is what will really provide long-term physical changes. Gaining muscle mass (thanks to strength training) increases BMR and helps burn more calories at rest.

But, strength training has another benefit during a caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit because it also helps maintain muscle mass during a period of fat loss.

Poor diet cannot be counteracted with exercise

After reading all this you may be thinking: “an ice cream only has 400 calories, so I can train an hour more to burn it”. But, if it were that easy, we would all be fitness models. It’s true that calories are the same, but your body needs quality protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats to function efficiently and be healthy. Consuming several hundred calories may only take a few seconds, but burning them will cost you several hours of hard work and suffering in the gym.

To achieve good results, it is best to find a balance between eating a little less (but still enjoying the foods you like best) and exercising more.

How to calculate the caloric deficit to lose weight

If you want to lose weight safely and healthy, it is essential to achieve a caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit to lose weight without risks to your health. We show you how to calculate it and what it is essential that you eat so as not to leave out any nutrients.

How to calculate caloric deficit
  • How to calculate caloric deficit: the key to losing weight or not gaining weight. We tell you how to calculate yours while protecting your health
  • Find a balanced balance of your macronutrients, prioritize proteins, bet on satisfying foods …
    • How to calculate caloric deficit
    • How to calculate caloric deficit

The caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit is defined as the lack of calories to reduce and maintain a balanced bodyweight, that is, to burn more than what we eat in order not to gain weight and even lose weight. Basic then to lose weight, whether you are overweight or want to define your muscles, it is also important to know what nutrients we should take and which we can do without taking maximum care of our health. We show you how to calculate it and achieve it in a healthy way and without unnecessary risks.

Caloric deficit definition

A calorie is a unit of measurement conceived as energy. And in our day to day we need a certain contribution of calories for the proper functioning of our body and to stay active, alert, and strong. They are obtained from the oxidation of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.

How to calculate the daily calories we need

The first thing is to know what is our range of daily calories to stay healthy and, for this, you can use this simple method: multiply your body weight by 26 and by 28. That is, if you weigh 90 kilos, 90 x 26 = 2340 and 90 x 28 = 2520. Your daily calorie range will therefore be between 2340 and 2520. Knowing this, calculate the calories you consume while doing sports, for example, 500, and you will lose weight more or less depending on the range in which you are and the physical exercise you do. On the contrary, if your goal is to gain weight to gain more muscle mass, for example, look for a caloric surplus or a hypocaloric diet, but always controlled.

What to eat to lose weight with a healthy caloric deficit?

Proteins are essential, as common sense indicates. It will depend on the type of activity you do: running, cycling, walking, hypertrophy, strength training … But, at a minimum, proteins should account for 10 to 15 percent of the total caloric intake, and of high biological value over everything, like meat, fish, milk or eggs. If you regularly train in the gym, calculate between 1.8 and 2 grams of protein for every kilo of your body weight. That is if you weigh 80, then 80 x 2 for example, 160 grams of protein a day and, if it can be, distributed throughout all the meals you do.

As for the rest of the nutrients, there are studies that assure that to reduce fat it is more effective to do without carbohydrates before the ‘good fats. So few carbohydrates, but of quality, like cereals, quinoa, oats, legumes, fruits or vegetables; and unsaturated fats such as nuts, bluefish (sardines, herring …) or olive oil. Refined flours or touch them, if perhaps your cheat meal day, and do without those foods that give you empty calories such as soft drinks, industrial pastries, or junk food in general.

Remember also that entering into a caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit to lose weight has its drawbacks and you may feel more fatigued, your defenses affected or lose some muscle mass.

how much caloric deficit to lose weight

The Highest Calorie Foods You Should Consider To Achieve A Successful Calorie Deficit

There are many and some, also, very healthy, but we leave you a list of 10 very caloric foods:


Virgin olive oil

Nuts and especially walnuts




grated coconut



Peanut butter

How to calculate caloric deficit

Key points for the caloric deficit and not fail in the attempt

1- Fundamental: keep your whims and temptations at bay. So it’s a good idea to save yourself one cheat meal a week to unleash your culinary perversions …

2- Now it is not so fashionable, but eating several times a day, 4 or 5 for example, to keep you satiated, still seems like good advice.

3- Be well hydrated. Drinking a lot of water is essential for the caloric deficit / but for your day-to-day in general. Obvious, but necessary to remember!

4- Exercise. Gentle fasting cardio or going to the gym regularly will help you better adjust your caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit and make it more effective.

5- Rest. Sleeping well, at least 8 hours a day if possible, will help to better regulate your body, feel more vital and less irritable, and, above all, allow your muscles to grow.

6- Reduce stress. Complicated yes, but essential to not binge, eat late or not walk with your mind focused on various concerns.

7- Peck some satiating product between meals, but in a moderate way, such as apples or nuts.


The calculation of a caloric deficit / How to calculate caloric deficit has a well-defined scientific basis, but, even having all the well-detailed information, getting it is not always as simple as it seems. You have to analyze your daily habits, both in the kitchen and in the gym and know where to apply the appropriate changes so that they are sustainable in the long term and achieve good results. It’s also important to set realistic goals and know that losing weight takes time.

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