The calorie deficit: the most important factor in losing weight – including instructions for calculation

The calorie deficit Cover picture

By now, most people are familiar with the calorie deficit. Because without reaching such a condition one simply cannot decrease, all the same on which nutrition or Diat one sets in the final effect.

But how can you calculate your calorie deficit and how high should it be if you want to lose weight? Exactly that and a few other important things we look at together in the following article!

What is the calorie deficit? And why is it so important to lose weight??

Who has already read the one or other blog contribution of me, which will know the term Calorie deficit probably already heard.

But what exactly is it? The very simple explanation is By a calorie deficit one understands nothing else than that one takes in fewer calories than the body consumes in the same time period.

Thereby one reaches a negative energy balance and thus the body begins to lose fat.

By the way, the calorie deficit does not have to be reached exactly over one day. Indeed, even if you are in deficit for more than a week, you will lose fat.

Who wants to lose weight really effectively, however, should be in such a condition most of the time, of course, because otherwise something will go on only rather slowly.

And how can you calculate from when you are in a calorie deficit??

The energy balance is crucial for the calorie deficit

In order to reach a calorie deficit, calorie consumption must be higher than calorie intake. If consumption and intake are equal, as in this picture, then you are neither losing nor gaining weight.

  • Remember now

Calculating the calorie deficit: How to get accurate values

The basal metabolic rate is the amount of calories that one would consume at complete rest. The power metabolism is that which is additionally added by everyday activities and sport. The digestion of food also requires a certain amount of energy.

Altogether these factors result in the Total metabolic rate. This is the amount of calories your body consumes on a given day.

Depending on whether you move a lot or a little, the total metabolic rate tends to be higher or lower. The basal metabolic rate itself, however, hardly differs from person to person!

A simple example for the calculation of the calorie deficit of a woman

Anna knows that she has a total metabolic rate of 2200 kilocalories per day. For fat loss it must be in a calorie deficit. That’s why she sets her daily calorie intake at 1500 kilocalories per day.

In total, the calculated calorie deficit is 700 kilocalories. Because 2200 minus 1500 is known to be 700.

The question, how fast Anna will lose weight with it approximately, we see then in the next paragraph.

To calculate your total personal metabolic rate ca. To estimate the calorie deficit, you can use the following formula:
Body weight in kilograms times 25 to 30 = total metabolic rate per day

Note, however, that this value is only an approximate guideline. Your actual calorie consumption can therefore be lower or higher than this.

The consumption can be lower if you are overweight, because body fat does not consume too many calories. In this case, the lower value of the range, i.e. 25, should be used in any case.

For example, even if you work mainly sitting, the lower value of the range should be used.

Various calculators from the Internet will unfortunately also only provide you with guide values, but some of them can be more accurate.

The best way to find out your total metabolic rate is to use an accurate fitness wristband* and count calories at the same time. Thus one should be able to determine its consumption up to few calories exactly.

However, this method requires some effort and is therefore more suitable for people who want to study this topic intensively.

How high should the calorie deficit be?

Food for the calorie deficit

Since the calorie deficit influences fat loss more directly than anything else, the question naturally arises as to how high it should be. This depends on several factors, which we will now discuss together.

This includes:

1.) How fast do I want to lose fat?

The higher you set the calorie deficit, the faster you will also lose weight. Basically, the rule is that to lose one kilogram of body fat you need to save about 7000 kcal.

A calorie deficit of 700 kcal per day would theoretically result in a weight loss of one kilogram of fat within 10 days. A calorie surplus of 700 kcal per day would lead to a weight gain of one kilogram of body fat.

In practice, however, the whole thing can look somewhat different. Here it is generally the case that by saving 7000 kcal you often also lose a little less than one kilogram of body fat. But for an approximate estimation the 7000 kcal are a good guideline value.

2.) How well do you manage your diet and are you prone to binge eating??

So if you’re already prone to binge eating and know that you’ve had problems with restrictive and low-calorie diets in the past, you’ll probably find it hard to cope with a high calorie deficit. Even though exceptions prove the rule, as always.

3.) How high is your body fat percentage at the moment??

Someone who has a fairly high body fat percentage generally does well with a higher calorie deficit. To put it simply, this is because the body still has some reserves left.

If, on the other hand, one has a lower body fat percentage, then a high caloric deficit is not to recommend. This is due to the fact that with a lower body fat percentage the loss of muscle mass becomes more likely. In addition, under these conditions, the side effects of a diet or nutrition increase. By this I mean things like hormonal disturbances, mood swings, increased hunger and other accompanying symptoms.

So, in summary, it is easy to see that there is no universal answer for how high the calorie deficit should be. Depending on the individual starting position, it is advisable to set the whole thing rather high or low. However, a high calorie deficit is considered problematic, especially in the long term, because this often means that one has to restrict oneself considerably in terms of food selection.

No weight loss despite calorie deficit? Is it possible?

In forums or Facebook groups people report again and again that despite a calorie deficit they do not lose weight or even gain weight. This can have a wide variety of reasons, which we will discuss together below.

Reason number 1: Your energy consumption has decreased and therefore you no longer have a calorie deficit

During weight loss, our energy consumption decreases because we are losing body weight overall. So if you only use a small calorie deficit and then lose weight, after a certain amount of time you may simply not have a deficit anymore. In addition, it is also possible that your calorie deficit has become so small that you are progressing very slowly and think that you are not losing weight.

If the scales have not been used for a long time or if there is even an increase in weight, then this would be one of the possible reasons. You should then adjust your deficit downwards or increase it through additional exercise.

Reason number 2: Water retention

If you are sure that you are reaching a calorie deficit, but still no weight loss is happening, then it could very well be that it is water retention. This then masks your fat loss, so to speak, since you are actually losing body fat, but at the same time nothing is progressing on the scale.

Water retention can even lead to an overall increase in weight. But don’t let these things blind you and stay patient! Women in particular have a tendency to water retention during their period and often have a crisis because their weight has not changed. After some time, however, the problem is usually solved by itself.

To prevent this from happening in the first place, women should always make sure that they compare the current week of a cycle with the same week from the last cycle. In addition to this, one must always weigh oneself in the same way. In the best case, this means in the morning after getting up, after going to the toilet, without having eaten or drunk anything beforehand. Because only then you will get really comparable results.

Scale to determine body weight

Only those who weigh themselves correctly will get comparable results over time.

Reason number 3: You build muscle mass

Another reason for not losing weight in spite of a calorie deficit can be the buildup of muscle mass. There is not really much to say here, because the matter is quite simple.

You do effective strength training in the gym, are still more of a beginner and are not running a high deficit? Then it can be very well that fat loss and muscle gain take place at the same time and thus the loss of body fat is disguised on the scale. Because as we’ll see in a moment, it’s definitely possible to build muscle while losing fat.

Reason number 4: Diseases and special life circumstances

With some illnesses and other life circumstances, there can be a strong water retention or a strong reduction in calorie consumption. These include hypothyroidism or even menopause, among other things. Taking medications such as antidepressants can also have such effects.

Overall, it is advisable here to sit down with your doctor and discuss what can be done. This is especially true if you are pretty sure that you will reach a calorie deficit.

Muscle building in a calorie deficit – does it really work??

Even nowadays, many people who strength train believe that you have to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle. But this is not true!

Because beginners and slightly advanced fasters in particular can build muscle while losing fat.

For example, in one study, overweight police officers lost an average of 4.2kg of fat mass, while gaining about 4kg of muscle mass in the same time period. A pretty impressive result or?

In another scientific study, elite gymnasts lost an average of 1.6kg on a ketogenic diet while building muscle. However, the results in terms of muscle gain did not reach statistical significance.

Despite everything, we must remember that these were highly trained athletes, some of whom were even able to gain muscle mass despite the deficit.

All in all, it can be said that muscle building works even in a calorie deficit. The thing is, though, you have to be pretty savvy to achieve both at the same time. This is especially true if you are more advanced in terms of strength training.

The best way to achieve a calorie deficit

Meanwhile, there are diets and other weight loss methods out there like sand by the sea. But many of these diets are neither suitable in the long run, nor really healthy.

Myself and various other people find it easiest to achieve a calorie deficit through interval fasting. This is simply because you still have some calories left over in the evening and can therefore treat yourself to much more than with other methods of losing weight. Maybe the whole thing is also something for you.

No matter what diet you choose to lose weight, it is always important to achieve a calorie deficit. No matter if you are on a ketogenic diet, the Paleo concept or the classic low carb diet, there are many ways to lose weight. The deficit is always mandatory in order to achieve anything in terms of fat loss! Of course, you should make it as easy as possible for yourself to achieve lasting success.

Is the deficit all that matters?

Often people claim that the calorie deficit is all that matters. However, this statement is only true with regard to fat loss.

Because for the health and the receipt of the musculature are during the Abnehmens logically still some other factors crucial.

This includes, for example, adequate intake of micronutrients, protein and fiber. While the calorie deficit itself is highly important, it is definitely not all that matters if you want to lose weight in a healthy way.


Caloric deficit means taking in less calories than our body consumes. It is the basis for fat loss and therefore one of the most important factors in losing weight.

In addition to reaching the deficit, however, there are a few other things to consider in order to keep the weight loss process healthy.

How does it look for you? Are you already paying attention to the fact that you’re in a deficit, or did this article just remind you to pay more attention to this factor?

Feel free to leave me a comment, of course also if you have a question.

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