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What Does The Term “Calorie Deficit” Mean?

Calories is the term used to describe the measurement of the amount of energy the body obtains from food. When you are in a calorie deficit, you are consuming fewer calories than you burn. If you can maintain a calorie deficit in the long term of 500 calories each day, you should lose weight. However, it’s important to ensure that if you’re aiming for a calorie deficit, you follow a sensible eating plan by avoiding processed foods and sugar while also getting enough regular exercise.

What Is A Calorie Deficit Vital If You Want To Lose Weight?

The calories burnt every day, otherwise called your calorie expenditure, is composed of three components:

  • REE or Resting Energy Expenditure – this is the number of calories that your body is using while it is at rest for basic functions like blood circulation and breathing.
  • Active energy expenditure – this is the number of calories burnt while exercising and carrying out physical activities like household chores. 
  • Thermic effect of food – this is the number of calories burnt by absorbing, metabolising, and digesting food. 

When you put less calories into your body than it requires to support all three of those components, your body will be in a calorie deficit. If you can maintain this, you will lose weight. On the other hand, if you put more calories into your body than it needs to support those three components, you will be in a calorie surplus and will eventually gain weight.

How Do I Work Out My Calorie Needs?

Before you can work out how many calories you should consume daily for weight loss, you must know how many calories you need to maintain your existing weight. Online calorie calculators will take into account your weight, age, sex, physical activity level, and height to work out your maintenance calories. 

You can then subtract 500 calories from that total to determine the right number to consume daily for weight loss without significantly impacting your energy levels or hunger. It’s important to note that, to make sure you’re consuming enough nutrients and are losing weight healthily, you shouldn’t consume less than 1200 calories daily if you’re a woman or 1500 calories daily if you’re a man.

How Do I Maintain A Calorie Deficit?

Achieving a calorie deficit is possible by either reducing the number of calories you consume, or doing more physical activity. Alternatively, you can do both. Most people, however, find it more sustainable and easy to maintain their calorie deficit via diet instead of just by exercising more since it can be difficult to find the motivation, energy, and time to exercise every day. 

Also, exercise burns fewer calories than expected. Most people find it simpler to consume 500 less calories daily than to do sufficient exercise every day to burn the same amount of calories. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother exercising though – it’s recommended that adults exercise at a moderate intensity (for example cycling or walking briskly) for between 150 and 300 minutes each week. It’s also recommended to carry out muscle strengthening exercises at least twice weekly.

How Do I Reduce My Calorie Intake?

The good news is that you don’t need to make enormous changes to your diet to maintain a calorie deficit. There are a number of possible strategies you can try to reduce the number of calories you consume each day in order to lose weight then maintain it without even counting calories. Here are some top tips:

Avoid drinking calories – some people can immediately eliminate hundreds of calories from their diet by just eliminating or reducing their sugary beverage intake. Fruit juice, full-fat sodas and speciality coffees are all high in calories, while alcoholic drinks also contain a lot of calories. Those calories don’t make you feel full and can cause weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease over time. 

Reduce your processed food intake – the salt, fat, and sugar in processed foods like desserts, fast food, and breakfast cereal may make them taste delicious but they also make these foods high in calories. Consuming them regularly is likely to lead to weight gain over time. Switching to foods that are minimally processed will bring you many benefits. 

These foods are packed with minerals, fibre, and vitamins, so they are nutritionally dense. Some of the best minimally processed foods to consume include fruits, nuts, legumes, vegetables, and lean protein sources. When you eat a diet that is rich in these foods, you’ll be less likely to overeat and you’ll also be sure to get all of the essential nutrients demanded by your body. 

If you usually eat lots of very processed foods, you should slowly start replacing them with foods that are minimally processed. As an example, you could swap your regular sugar breakfast cereal with oatmeal and fruit, or switch your bag of crisps with some lightly salted almonds.

Eat more home-cooked food – if you prepare meals yourself and eat them at home, you’ll have control over both the ingredients you use and the size of the portion you serve, meaning you’ll also be able to control your calories. People who prepare dinner themselves six or seven times weekly consume around 140 less calories daily on average when compared with people who prepared their own dinner once weekly or not at all. 

Home cooked food is also linked to eating a higher quality diet, allowing you to eat more vegetables and fruits, reducing your body fat level, and cutting your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Even better, you’ll save money by preparing your own food! 

What Should I Know About Calorie Deficits?

If you eat less calories that you burn during your day, you’ll be in a calorie deficit. If you’re able to maintain this status in the long term, you’ll begin to lose weight. By reducing your daily calorie intake by just 500 calories you can achieve sustainable and healthy weight loss, and it can be surprisingly easy to do this just by reducing your intake of sugary drinks and highly processed foods, and by preparing your own meals at home more often.

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