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What Happens When You Burn More Calories Than You Eat?

author image Ryan Biddulph
Based in New Jersey, Ryan Biddulph has been writing since 2010, with his articles appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM, among others. He has helped clients reach their personal fitness goals since 2001. He also runs an Internet marketing blog. He holds a Bachelor of Science in meteorology from Kean University and a certificate in Web development from the Cittone Institute.
What Happens When You Burn More Calories Than You Eat?
A female jogger is standing in field. Photo Credit: Kris Timken/Blend Images/Getty Images

Losing weight involves following a plan where you increase physical activity and exercise to burn more calories and reduce the number of calories you ingest. By engaging in cardiovascular activity and eating a balanced, nutritious diet you can shed fat, maintain lean muscle mass and increase heart health. Before adopting a diet or exercise program please consult a physician.

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Caloric Deficit

As you burn more calories than you take in, you set up a caloric deficit which can result in weight loss. You can reduce calorie intake by eating healthier or less food, or you can bump up energy expenditure by increasing exercise. Consistently maintaining a caloric deficit allows you to permanently shed excess pounds.

Safe Weight Loss

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute suggests losing weight at the safe and realistic rate of 1 to 2 lbs. per week. Since 3,500 calories equals approximately 1 lb. of fat, losing 1 to 2 lbs. each week requires you to burn 500 to 1,000 calories more than you take in daily. Eat smaller, frequent meals and engage in regular exercise to make up this deficit. Set process goals like exercising regularly and outcome goals like losing a specific amount of weight to change your habits and remain motivated.

Burning Calories

Exercising regularly helps you expend calories that can't be cut through dieting. Engaging in cardiovascular activity also increases heart health, reduces blood pressure and elevates your mood. The National Institutes of Health suggests performing moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking for 20-minute sessions, three times per week. Walk instead of driving and take the stairs instead of the elevator to increase the number of calories you burn.


Eat a nutritious diet rich with complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats to reduce the number of calories you ingest. Consume fruits, vegetables and whole grains to receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals and power up your workouts. Take in healthy fats like nut butters and olive oils to increase heart health and consume lean proteins like chicken breast and salmon to provide your muscles with vital amino acids.


Stay way from fad diets promising rapid weight loss. Many of these diets restrict carbohydrates and other food groups, resulting in water weight loss. Once the body is rehydrated the weight returns. Cut out rich foods high in sugar and fat and reduce alcohol consumption to moderate your calories.

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