What is Calorie Deficit Dieting?

What is calorie deficit dieting and why is it the best way to achieve your goals!? The answer is simple! Because what is measured can be managed! And let’s be honest it’s not like we’re designing a massive wedding event in a foreign country on top of a mountain. Just our daily calorie targets on My Fitness Pal to ensure we achieve mental and physical happiness in our own skin. Which for 5-10 minutes per day of tracking is totally a worthy trade off!


Calorie Deficit or Shortcut Temptations

Personally, a very frustrating aspect of the fitness industry is the abundance of biased misinformation. By unqualified (often friends selling products) people who continuously take advantage of those with without knowledge in desperate positions. Of course, these solution promises come in the form of pills, shakes, ‘secret methods’ and fad diets. And the big problem is, they sound much sexier, easier and quicker than a calorie deficit!

As a result people spend their cash hoping to achieve their goals via some ‘fast track’ path only to enter a viscous life long cycle of YO-YO dieting. Eventually come the almost unbreakable negative emotions to fitness and low self belief. In addition, chronic dieting negatively impacts your drive and motivation. So, this chronic and unscientific approach dieting approach doesn’t empower us but instead takes away from what’s important to us and our goals such as:


Work productivity

Training Performance

Sleep quality


Energy for family life.




Please hear the next sentence in your mind in a deep gladiator voice followed by a sword bashing a shield…We won’t have it!!

What is a Calorie Deficit anyway?

A calorie deficit is simply eating less energy than your body requires to maintain weight. And this leads to your body fat stores being used for energy. But where people go wrong is how deep they push this initial deficit. Because this aggressive approach leads to uncontrollable hunger and feeling drained which means it is unmaintainable.


Female and Male Calorie Deficit Examples


5 feet 6, weighing 147 pounds, body fat 21% and moderately active (3-5 days of exercise per week). The calories required to optimize health, performance and maintain weight are around 2,350.



5 feet 8.5, weighing 174 pounds, body fat 11% and moderately active (3-5 days of exercise per week). The calories required to optimize health, performance and maintain weight are around 3,000.


So, these statistics are ours so serve as real examples of personal trainers who keep in shape year round! Also, if we wanted to drop one pound per week of body fat we would deduct around –500 calories per day from our above maintenance calorie numbers! Important to note is that muscle mass can have a significant difference on a persons daily calorie requirements. Hence, the higher the maintenance calories are the higher our calories can be when dieting, which means more food! But each person will have different calorie requirements due to activity levels, occupation and resting metabolism.


How Many Calories in a Pound of Fat?

Here’s where the law of thermodynamics come in and some simple math! There are approximately 3,500 calories in one pound of fat! Therefore, a 500 daily calorie deficit multiplied by 7 days of the week surmounts to 3,500 calories. Similarly, to drop two pounds of fat per week a 1,000 daily calorie deficit would be required. And this surmounts to 7,000 calories per week which equals approximately two pounds of fat.


Dropping more than three pounds of fat per week (unless clinically obese) can make life pretty miserable and is airing on the risky side of being unsustainable. Because aggressive diets increase; muscle loss, energy crashes and binges. So, even two pounds per week is pushing it for most. As we still want our quality of life to be good as we drop body fat and lose weight. Personally, I recommend a rate of loss around the 1-1.5 pounds per week mark.


But some People Drop 8 pounds in a Week!?

Be very aware of companies over hyping their products or clients rate of loss, particularly in week 1-2. Because initially (as well as body fat) we always drop glycogen and water in our muscles among other things. So, for every gram of carbohydrate you consume your body attaches to it 2.7 grams water, nothing at all to do with fat.

So, this initial weight loss gives you a false sense of security going forward which can be very confusing and demoralizing in the future. In the above blog we go deeper into the benefits of carbohydrates. But let’s just say that they are the preferred fuel source of the brain and muscles! Also, aiding in digestion, keeping you fuller and the extra fiber keeps blood cholesterol in check. Carbs are friends!


In Conclusion

Now that you understand the fundamentals and basics you know that one bad day is no big deal! For example, if you over eat on day 7 which sets you back ~500 calories you still have 6 days banked (3,000 calories) which mean you’re only one day away (-500 calories) from one pound of fat!


Lastly, figure out your maintenance calories and then start your calorie deficit and deploy a trial and error outlook until you get it right. Check out this well written article on how to implement a calorie deficit for losing weight.


PS, for a more in depth understanding on how much energy we need to run at our best just check our other blog out How Many Calories Should I Eat.


We hope you enjoyed this read, did you take any knowledge from it?


If you would like to know more about how we help clients give this page a read.

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