Calorie Deficit : Everything You Need To Know

Do you get confused about what exactly is a calorie deficit every time someone mentions weight loss and why do you need to be in it to lose weight? Nowadays, calorie deficit diets are trending everywhere but it is still a complex concept to understand. And so, we are here to help you in understanding everything about calorie deficit diets! 

In this article, you will learn what a calorie deficit is and the different factors that are important to get into a calorie deficit and achieve your dream body.

What is a Calorie?

To better understand calorie deficit and calorie deficit diets, you must first be familiar with the term calorie.

Every cell of your body requires energy in order to perform its functions effectively. Hence, a calorie is a unit that is there to measure energy.

To be more exact, a calorie is defined as the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water from 0 to 1 degree Celsius. For example, 1 gram of carbohydrate is equal to 4 calories. Every food item has some calories but the difference is whether it has any nutritional value or not. The calories present in junk food are empty calories because they do not contain any nutritional value.

What is Calorie Deficit?

If you are on a weight loss or fat loss journey, then you would have certainly heard about a calorie deficit diet. When you consume fewer calories than your body burns during the whole day, it’s called being in a calorie deficit. Creating a calorie deficit helps in aiding weight loss, hence it is a crucial thing to do if you want to lose weight or fat.

For example, if your daily calorie requirement is 2000 Kcal where you consume1800 Kcal a day depending on your goals. Doing this will create a deficit of 200 Kcal.

Now, in order to dig deeper into this topic, you will have to be familiar with the concept of TDEE.


TDEE stands for Total Daily Energy Expenditure. As the name suggests, it is the total energy you need to consume in terms of calories from food to perform your daily bodily functions. This includes body functions such as breathing, digestion, and others even while being at rest. TDEE also considers the extra activity you perform throughout the day. It includes physical activity like exercising, walking, daily chores, and more. To better understand TDEE, let’s look at the different components required to calculate it.

  • BMR: It stands for Basal Metabolic Rate. It is the rate at which your body burns calories to keep the body functioning at rest. It accounts for about 60-70% of the daily calories burned.
  • TEF: It stands for Thermic Effect of Food. It is the energy which is there to digest and process different macronutrients in your diet. TEF can vary from person to person based on the amount of macronutrients consumed. While TEF is different for different macronutrients, the most common estimate for TEF is around 10% of your total calorie intake.
  • TEA: It stands for Thermic Effect of Activity. It is the measure of how many calories you will burn during your training and workouts, or any other extra physical activity that you do on a daily basis.

How to Calculate Calorie Deficit?

When you calculate your calorie deficit, you have to first calculate your TDEE which includes multiple components. And then, you can create a deficit according to how much you think should be the ideal deficit according to your goals. It’s better not to go above a deficit of 25-30% generally in order to stay in a healthy deficit.

Let’s have a look at the formulas that can be used to calculate the BMR, TEF, TEA, and finally TDEE.


For Men: BMR = 10*weight (Kg) + 6.25*height (cm) – 5*age (years) + 5

For Women: BMR = 10*weight (Kg) + 6.25*height (cm) – 5*age (years) – 161


As explained earlier, it is around 10% of your total calorie intake.


The thermic effect of activity depends on the intensity of training you are involved in. So, the formulas are also modified according to the different levels of activities:

Sedentary: if you have little or no exercise may be because of a desk job, then TEA=BMR*1.2

Lightly Active: Light exercise or playing sports 1-3 days per week, then TEA=BMR*1.375

Moderately Active: Moderate exercise or playing sports 3-5 days per week, then TEA=BMR*1.55

Very Active: Intense exercise or playing sports 6-7 days per week, then TEA=BMR*1.725

Extra Active: Highly intense exercise, training twice a day, playing sports, or having a physical job daily, then TEA=BMR*1.9


After using all of the above formulas you are ready to calculate your TDEE, which is as follows:


This is the formula used to determine a person’s daily energy expenditure and a calorie deficit can be created using this. Although, these are not the only things a nutrition coach keeps in mind while devising a plan. They take many more factors into account while planning your meals in a way that you get proper nutrition while having fewer calories.

Factors Affecting Calorie Requirement

By now, you would have guessed that there is no “one size fits all” criteria for a calorie deficit. You can’t go into the same deficit as someone else because everyone has different bodies. As for the factors that can affect a person’s calorie requirement, you need to consider the following to calculate a calorie deficit:

  • Age: As a person’s age increases, their calorie requirement decreases. 
  • Sex: Males naturally have a higher calorie requirement than females. Hence, their deficits are different.
  • Height: Height has a direct impact on a person’s BMR, and the higher the BMR, the higher is the calorie requirement. Thus, it is an important factor while creating a deficit.
  • Weight: Similar to a person’s height, their weight is also a direct factor of BMR. Hence, it also affects a person’s calorie requirement.
  • Metabolism: Metabolism is the process of converting food into energy. If you have a slower metabolism, then you might need to be in a greater calorie deficit to compensate for the slow-burning of calories.
  • Body composition: If your body’s fat to muscle ratio is higher, then the calorie intake will be higher as well.

How to Create a Calorie Deficit?

In order to create a calorie deficit after considering the above factors, you need to choose a healthy way as well to approach it. Going with a high nutrition diet is quite important while being in a calorie deficit to ensure that you are getting all essential nutrients while losing weight. There are essentially three ways to create a calorie deficit. 

  • Consuming fewer Calories: One way to create a deficit after you have calculated your daily calorie requirement is through the diet, i.e. consuming fewer calories than your body needs. Here, you need to be careful about your food choices because you would want to make sure you are getting proper nutrition from your meals. Otherwise, you will end up feeling weak and lethargic. In some cases, improper nutrition can also cause all sorts of nutritional deficiencies. So, to make healthier choices, you can use the MyPlate method, which is a pictorial representation of what an ideal plate for a meal should look like. It consists of appropriate portions of fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy.
  • Physical Activity: As being in a deficit can also mean burning more calories than you are consuming, you can also increase your physical activity to burn extra calories. However, only increasing your physical activity might not be effective enough for losing weight. 
  • Combination of Both: A combination of diet and exercise can do wonders in your weight loss journey. This way you won’t have to overdo one particular thing and you can see effective results along with building a good amount of muscle mass. You just have to execute the above two methods in proportion. 


Calorie deficit, as easy as it sounds, is a complicated concept that requires you to understand necessary information about how it works and what all factors are to be kept in mind while making a decision. Also, always make sure to get an expert opinion before taking any drastic step in your lifestyle so that you are well guided and are taking the right steps in the right direction while getting into a calorie deficit.

We hope we helped you in expanding your knowledge about being in a calorie deficit. If you found this helpful, consider leaving your thoughts and questions in the comments down below 🙂

Spread the love


  • Bhavik Maru Posted April 2, 2022 2:56 pm

    How to calculate total calorie intake per day for TEF ?

    • Protone by Aanya Posted April 3, 2022 1:19 pm

      I guess you are asking how to calculate TEF for your total calorie intake. For that, you can take an estimate of 10% of total calories consumed 🙂

  • Akshitha Posted April 3, 2022 10:12 am

    This was so helpful, thank you aanya 💖

    • Protone by Aanya Posted April 3, 2022 1:20 pm

      It’s a pleasure, glad I could help ♥

  • Yashaswi Posted June 15, 2022 7:42 pm

    How to increase slow metabolism

Add your comment or reply. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *