If you are new to losing weight and how to make it work, you should know that a calorie deficit is essential to effectively lose weight.
A calorie deficit is when the number of consumed calories in a day is smaller than the number of calories burned. To properly function, the body needs to burn a certain number of calories every day. The number of calories a person needs in a day varies and depends on their:
- Physical activity level
- Body composition
To prompt a calorie deficit, a person can reduce the number of calories they eat, increase their activity levels, or both.
Calorie deficit for weight loss: Is it all you need?
Maintaining a calorie deficit is essential for weight loss but since calories are not the only factor that affects your weight, a calorie deficit is just one part of the whole weight loss equation.
To lose 1-2 pounds per week, a person needs to consume 500 to 1,000 calories less than what the body needs each day. If a person lives an inactive lifestyle, meaning only moving when needed and no other physical activities, it is recommended to start at least 30 minutes of exercise every day.
Since a calorie deficit entails consuming fewer calories, many people are worried about feeling unsatisfied with meals. However, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person can make up for the missing high-calorie food by eating lower-calorie food, increate water intake, and eating more fiber to feel more full and satisfied with meals.
How to achieve a calorie deficit
Once a person determines how many calories they need in a day, they can plan on creating a calorie deficit.
1 pound of body fat equals 3,500 calories a day. To lose 1 pound of fat in a week, the body needs a deficit of 3,500 calories or 500 calories per day. If you are aiming to lose 2 pounds in a week, the body needs a deficit of 7,000 calories.
However, take note that it is not recommended to lose more than 7,000 calories per week.
If you have decided to up your weight loss with a calorie deficit, here are several ways to do it.
In creating a calorie deficit, the diet plays an important role. To effectively achieve a calorie deficit, there’s a need to change the food and drinks consumed in a day. Rid your meals of high-calorie food, and instead focus on food that is nutrient-rich and low in calories.
Food with fewer calories include:
- Vegetables. Generally, vegetables is the frontline for healthy weight loss, including dark green, red, and orange-colored vegetables.
- Proteins. Lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, nuts, soy products, and seafood.
- Low-fat or fat-free dairy. Milk, yogurt, cheese, or soy beverages.
- Healthy oils. Olive oil, canola oil, or coconut oil.
In contrast, a person should avoid sugary drinks and trans fat and in exchange, increase their water intake.
When you limit or stop your intake of sugary beverages like soda, fruit juices, and specialty coffee drinks, and alcoholic beverages, you are already eliminating hundreds of calories from your diet. These drinks are also dangerous for the health as too much consumption can lead to weight gain, heart disease, and diabetes.
Aside from sugary and alcoholic drinks, also limit or eliminate your consumption of highly processed food, such as fast food, cereals, and desserts, like muffins and cakes. Though these are convenient and delicious food, if you are serious about your weight loss, sacrifices have to be made.
Instead, try to eat home-cooked meals as much as possible. Home-cooked meals mean you have control over the ingredients, amount of seasoning to add, and the portion. You can also save money with this too!
Diet and exercise always go hand in hand when trying to lose weight. Aside from diet, physical activities contribute to burning calories. An inactive person is recommended to increase their daily physical activities if they can. They can start with simple activities such as:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Recreational sport
To meet moderate physical activity levels, a person can do the following activities:
- Brisk walking
- Snow shoveling
- Light yard work
- Casual biking
- Playing with children
The more physically active a person is, the more calories they will burn.
Risk of too much calorie deficit
If a person cuts on too many calories and is lacking in necessary nutrients, healthy living can backfire and instead, create health problems.
There is a minimum number of calories that our body needs to properly function and when a person is too into calorie deficit, cutting too much, there could be health issues such as:
- Not enough nutrients interfered with the gaining and maintaining of bone mass
- Not giving the brain the necessary energy
- Decrease metabolism
- Increase risk of developing gallstones
When you have an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, it is highly recommended to talk with your healthcare provider first before committing to a calorie deficit or any type of diet plan, such as the Mediterranean diet or the Vegan diet. When you have an existing health condition, you might need a specialized planned diet that can help you manage your condition.