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Updated: Jul 17, 2022

What it means being on a calorie deficit?

What are Calorie Deficits?

A huge topic at the moment and one that brings so much attention to the fitness world! What do we actually think of when we hear the phrase 'calorie deficit'? Eating less than normal? cutting out carbs? reducing fat? losing weight? There are lots of ways this could be interpreted, all depending on your perspective of it. Essentially, the above could all create calorie deficit.

A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories, than you are burning over time.

Two examples which simplify the above are:

Peter is consuming 2000 calories a day, and in that same day is burning 2500 calories. there is a 500 calorie deficit. Alternatively;

Peter burns 2000 calories a day, and only consumes 1500... Similarly, a 500 calorie deficit is created again.

Why Calorie Deficits?

Calorie deficits are used in diets to start a weight loss phase. The reason they're incredibly useful, is that there is no need for excessive cardio, excessive reductions in food, or the '1200 calorie diet' or even 'green tea juice with spinach and ancient vegetable artefact powders.' - You get my drift.

There are many more examples of diet programmes but essentially, and to submit to common sense, if you eat less than what your body requires, you will, lose weight.

Just to add some more background on calorie deficits and getting the most out of them... When on a journey of weight loss (remember, during weight loss phases, we always try and maintain current muscle mass) it is always vital to understand that using deficits to their full potential without the introduction of cardio, or excessive intense workouts, is important. So, an example of using them in a counter-productive way will enlighten you, as to how to use them, productively. (Please see ex.1)

How to Calorie Deficit

Working out your calorie deficit:

To simplify this and not confuse you with equations (yet) simply, calculate your maintenance calories and subtract 200-300 calories. Result: Calorie deficit.

For the science and detail lovers, such as myself. The more technical approach would be to calculate your Basal Metabolic rate (BMR). The BMR is the number of calories your body would burn if you did no form of activity apart from lay in bed all day.

  • Men: BMR = 88.362 + (13.397 x weight in kg) + (4.799 x height in cm) – (5.677 x age in years)

  • Women: BMR = 447.593 + (9.247 x weight in kg) + (3.098 x height in cm) – (4.330 x age in years)

Now we have to multiply that by an activity factor to get your total daily expenditure or, (TDEE); for that we'll use the Harris-Benedict equation:

BMR x 1.2 (sedentary/no exercise p/w)

BMR x 1.375 (1-3 times exercise p/w)

BMR x 1.55 (3-5 times exercise p/w)

BMR x 1.725 (6-7 times exercise p/w)

BMR x 1.9 (7 times exercise p/w + physically demanding job)

e.g - TDEE = BMR x 1.55 - 200-300 = Calorie deficit (1.55 equates to the activity level of the individual)

If you hate maths, then you can use a 'TDEE calculator' on the web. They're mostly free to use and are usually more accurate than not.

Calorie deficits + working out?

How to get the most out of calorie deficits... I often use an example of water bottles:

Putting your body into a deficit state should more than often always be the first step, by eating less than your body requires it is going to be in a negative, resulting in weight loss. A common mistake that is made, is almost instantly increasing the intensity of your workouts or even incorporating cardio far too early into a calorie deficit phase.

A bit of a primary school analogy: (ex.1)

You have one half full bottle of water and one unopened brand new bottle of water. You're thirsty and are going to drink from one of these bottles. logically, you first of all use the half full bottle before starting the unopened one right? Right? Because it would be a waste, and counter productive to the purpose of being resourceful.

So! how does this relate? You should commit to the fact, that being in a calorie deficit, over time, you will drop in weight with this alone. The only time you should consider increasing exercise intensity or introduction of cardio is when you have hit a plateau, a dead end, your body weight isn't changing anymore. i.e. - the half full water bottle is now empty.

Even before you do this though, reducing calories again by a minor amount and being consistent in maintaining that deficit, will create another weight loss effect. Because, remember... It's about losing weight and maintaining muscle mass. Not losing as much as you can as fast as you can. The longer you can keep manipulating your calories and body into losing weight without necessarily having to do more physical work than you already do; the better.

There are so many more components to cover and I'm sure this will lead to curiosity and intrigue, if so, reach out to us at Power Progression!

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