Calorie deficit calculator: What is my calorie deficit? How to eat in calorie deficit

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Weight loss is easier than you think, all you need to do is eat in a calorie deficit. Essentially, you need to be eating less energy than your body consumes. chatted to Signe Svanfeldt, nutritionist at Lifesum ( to find out everything you need to know about eating in a calorie deficit.

Calories are not fat, they are energy that your body requires to function.

Signe said: “A calorie deficit is when you eat less energy than your body consumes.”

To achieve a calorie deficit, you need to know how much energy your body requires on a daily basis.

Daily energy requirement differs from person to person because it depends on biological and lifestyle factors, including age, height, weight, sex, activity level and goal.

Once you’ve worked out how much energy you need, you can make sure you’re eating in line with this or eating less to lose weight.

Signe added: “Muscles are built in the gym, but weight is lost in the kitchen!”

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Calorie deficit calculator

Working out what a calorie deficit means for you is quite complicated, but there are a number of calculators available online that will do the job for you.

Lifesum calculates your daily needs and how much energy you should eat in order to be on a healthy calorie deficit using the Mifflin St. Jeor equation.

Signe said: “Using the Lifesum app takes away the guesswork and provides you with your daily requirements and target calorie count to be in a deficit, so all you have to do is focus on meeting them by eating nutrient-rich food.”

How to eat in a calorie deficit

When on a calorie deficit, it is important to eat healthily. You can’t just eat pieces of junk food, even if they add up to your daily requirement on Lifesum.

Signe said: “Focus on filling your diet with nutrient-rich foods to reach your daily nutrient needs so you have less room for nutrient-poor foods.

“For example, a doughnut may have the same amount of calories as a bowl of oatmeal with fruit but the doughnut does not have any nutrients.”

To eat in a calorie deficit, you either need to keep a food diary or track your micro and macronutrients in an app like Lifesum.

Signe said: “Many people don’t realise how much or how little energy they’re eating. Keeping a food journal, or tracking your food in Lifesum’s tracking tool can help you to understand what you’re taking in so that you can make sure you hit your calorie goals.

“Another thing many people forget is that a lot of beverages are highly calorific. One can of soda has around 150 calories, and a small glass of fruit juice has around 100 calories.

“Instead, you should be filling your diet with nutrient-dense food that makes you feel fuller for longer, like vegetables, whole grains, fruits and lean protein.”

If you find it hard to come up with healthy meals and stay on track, Lifesum provides meal plans with ready planned meals and a shopping list for one to three weeks.

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Can you achieve a calorie deficit without counting calories?

You can achieve a calorie deficit without counting calories, but you still need to pay attention to what foods you’re eating and how much.

Signe said: “Some people can achieve a calorie deficit without counting calories but health is very personal.

“As with any journey, you have to know where you’re at and where you’re going. To achieve a calorie deficit, you need to know how many calories you’re taking in and from where.

“For some people, it can be enough to eat less nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods, including cookies, ice cream and sweets, and, instead, fill their diet with nutrient-rich, energy-poor foods, including vegetables, lean protein, whole grains and fruits.

“Meanwhile, others need to pay even more attention to what foods they eat and the amount.”

If you’re worried about becoming too obsessed with counting calories or have previously suffered from an eating disorder, focussing on eating in a calorie deficit might be the wrong choice for you.

How far into a calorie deficit do I need to be to lose weight?

There is no set amount of calories that everyone needs to eat or burn to lose weight.

Signe said: “Everyone needs to find out what works best for them. Some think that you need endless cardio to lose weight – and there are health benefits to cardio, but it can all be done by tracking your daily energy intake and making sure that you stay within a healthy level of energy deficit.”

However, you need to avoid having too large a calorie deficit because this can lead to fatigue, nutrient deficiencies, osteoporosis.

Signe explained: “If your calorie deficit is too large, you’re sure to gain back any weight lost.

“A healthy, slow and steady weight loss pace is key. Not everyone loses weight the same, but a weight loss of around 1Ib or 0.5 kg per week is generally considered a safe pace.

“Importantly, the pace varies between individuals; some can easily lose 1Ib in one week, while others need more time.”

Do I need to exercise to be in a calorie deficit?

No, you don’t need to exercise to be in a calorie deficit but physical activity is great and has major health benefits.

Signe said: “Many tend to think that, in order to lose weight, you need to be on the treadmill for two hours a day but that isn’t true.

“Regular physical activity is great, but there’s no point in overdoing it in order to lose weight. Nutrition is number one when it comes to losing weight.”

Ditch the excessive cardio, trendy fad diets, and make sure you’re eating enough food to keep you going.

You can lose weight without feeling super hungry or sweating buckets on a run that you don’t want to be on.

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