Calorie Deficit Needed to Lose Weight

When figuring out how to calculate a calorie deficit for weight loss, you’ll first need to determine the number of calories you need to eat daily to stay at your current weight.

  • Women should consume between 1,600 calories and 2,000 calories daily to maintain their weight.
  • Men should consume between 2,000 calories and 2,400 calories daily to maintain their weight.

These calorie counts, however, are meant for people at a healthy weight, average height, and average muscle mass. Other factors such as your age, genetics, and metabolism will affect your maintenance calories.

To safely and sustainably lose weight, you should aim for shedding one pound to two pounds each week. You can achieve this by trimming between 500 calories and 1,000 calories from the daily baseline calorie amount above. That’s because one pound of fat is equal to roughly 3,500 calories; so, losing one pound per week requires you to be at a 500 calorie deficit for 7 days.

This is the formula you should follow to lose one pound to two pounds weekly:

  • Maintenance calorie amount - 500 calories = Calorie goal each day to lose a pound
  • Maintenance calorie amount - 1,000 calories = Calorie goal each day to lose two pounds

Calculate a Calorie Deficit Using Our Calorie Deficit Calculator

Calorie Calculator

How to Manually Calculate a Calorie Deficit

If you’re wondering how else to calculate a calorie deficit, note that you may also do this calculation manually. The process is as easy and requires you to calculate just a few numbers. Let’s take a look at the steps you’ll need to take.

Determine Your Lean Body Mass (LBM)

Your LBM is key in determining how to calculate a calorie deficit, and it is your total weight minus the weight of your body fat. You can determine this by first figuring out your body fat percentage. There are a few ways to calculate your body fat percentage.

First, you can estimate your LBM with a simple equation, but it’s worth noting this assumes average muscle mass.

  • Male lean body mass = (0.32810 × Weight in kilograms) + (0.33929 × Height in centimeters) − 29.5336
  • Female lean body mass = (0.29569 × Weight in kilograms) + (0.41813 × Height in centimeters) − 43.2933

Alternatively, you can determine your body fat percentage using a skinfold assessment, a bioelectrical impedance scale, or various other, more high tech methods.

  • Then convert your body fat percentage into a decimal by dividing it by 100: for example, 15% divided by 100 = .15.
  • Then multiply that decimal by your body weight to determine the weight of your body fat: .15 multiplied by 190 lbs = 28.5 lbs.
  • You can now subtract the weight of your body fat from your overall weight to accurately determine your LBM: 190 lbs - 28.5 lbs = 161.5

Find Your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR)

To calculate your target calorie deficit, you must first figure out your RMR (resting metabolic rate). This is a measure of the number of calories you burn while at rest on a typical day.

Use this equation to figure out your RMR: 370 + (21.6 x LBM in kilograms)

Determine Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)

Once you’ve determined your RMR, you should factor in your physical activity. This will help you calculate your TDEE — the total number of calories burned daily.

Look at the activity level categories below. Determine which category your level of activity each day falls under. Then, take your RMR and multiply it by the number listed beside it:

  • Extremely active (physical job plus hard exercise daily): 1.9
  • Very active (hard exercising between six and seven times weekly): 1.725
  • Moderately active (exercising between three and five times weekly): 1.55
  • Lightly active (exercising one to three times weekly): 1.375
  • Sedentary: 1.2

This will give you your maintenance calorie amount.

Determine Your Target Weight-Loss Calorie Count

Finally, you should subtract your daily calorie deficit – ideally 500 calories or 1,000 calories for sustainable weight loss – from your maintenance calorie amount. This will give you the number of calories you need to eat daily to lose weight.

How to Calculate a Calorie Deficit Using an App

For a slightly easier approach, you can master how to calculate a calorie deficit for weight loss by using one of the many apps available to help you track your calories and calculate a calorie deficit. With these apps, you can track your intake of calories by adding the beverages and food you consume during the day. Some apps even let you track the number of calories you burn daily.

Eat Less and Exercise More

After you’ve mastered how to calculate a calorie deficit for weight loss, you can start achieving this deficit by eating fewer calories and increasing physical activity.

When it comes to eating, prioritize healthy whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables over processed food items. This will make it easier to consume fewer calories daily. In addition, try to reduce your food portion sizes, and avoid or limit high-calorie options, like soda or candy. Replace unhealthy snacks, like potato chips, with more nutritious ones, such as crispy chickpeas.

For exercise, try to get a minimum of 2.5 hours of exercise each week. You may also accelerate your fat loss by taking our Shred Signal, an exercise response–boosting supplement and fat burner.

One should also be sure that they are still getting enough protein during a calorie deficit to prevent muscle loss. Our RevitaPRO is a premium 100% microfiltered whey protein isolate that contains no fillers, and it is an excellent way to supplement your protein intake during a calorie deficit.

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About Author

Ian Danney, founder of Optimum EFX, is a former Olympian who operates a strength and conditioning facility where he trains elite professional athletes. To ensure optimum results for his athletes, Ian required premium, clean and most importantly effective supplements that delivered on their promises. Finding none that met his high standards, in 2008, Ian used his biochemistry and human biology knowledge to create Optimum EFX to provide world-class athletes with the superior, efficacious supplementation they need in order to optimize performance. He also secured Informed Sport certifications for all Optimum EFX supplements to ensure that every ingredient in every product is  approved for use in professional and Olympic sports, as well as for all other fitness enthusiasts who want clean products.