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What is a calorie deficit? Guide to calorie deficits and how to create one

In terms of weight loss there are so many myths and magic quick fixes out there with there almost being too many to count! A lot of the time it’s made to sound much more complicated than it actually is so let us break it down for you…

What is a calorie deficit?

So, what is a calorie deficit? Well, a calorie deficit is when you are consuming less calories than you are expending through activity. For example, if you burn 2200 calories but only consume 1800 calories from food and drink then this is a deficit of 400 calories.

Our bodies are amazing things and when it comes to weight loss there is no “one size fits all” approach; it needs to be entirely personal to you.

In order to determine your calorie deficit, you first need to calculate your BMR and you can do this through a number of means however an example for this you can use the Mifflin – St Jeor Formula:

  • Men: (10 x your bodyweight in KG) + (6.25 x your height in CM) – (5 x your age) +5
  • Women: (10 x your bodyweight in KG) + (6.25 x your height in CM) – (5 x your age) -161

So, for example for a 6”2, 105kg male aged 24 the calculation would look like so:

1050 + 1175 – 120 + 5 = a BMR of 2110 calories

Another example for a 5”4, 85kg female aged 30 the calculation would be the following:

850 + 1031 – 150 – 161= a BMR of 1570 calories 

(Of course, there are multiple calculations out there in order to calculate your BMR so always be sure to choose one that best suits you! Use our handy TPW BMR Calorie Calculator and choose your preferred formula to get your personal BMR)

At this point you are probably wondering what your BMR actually is right? Well your BMR is your Basal Metabolic Rate and this simply means the number of calories that your body needs in your order complete your natural, life-sustaining functions.

Then it comes to actually calculating your deficit – one of the major problems people do is go too aggressive with their deficit and then when their weight loss starts to plateau, they have nowhere else to go but even lower in their calories and nobody wants that!

An advised guideline would be a starting deficit range of around 200 – 300 calories.

Sticking with our 24-year-old 105kg male, let’s say they put themselves in a deficit of 200 calories in order to start their weight loss journey. That would mean that, if they are consuming their 2110 calories from food and drink, they would need to be burning an additional 200 calories via exercise to put themselves in a caloric deficit thus, resulting in weight loss!

The Take Home:

A key thing to remember in terms of the number of calories for you to be consuming on your weight loss journey is that your BMR will change if you are losing weight. 



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