How do I Create a Calorie Deficit for Weight Loss?

Counting calories is an effective and direct method of creating a calorie deficit for weight loss. Your body requires a very specific number of calories in order to function.

Calculate your own calorie deficit for weight loss. (Image: Fascinadora/iStock/GettyImages)

If your body receives an excess of calories, you will gain weight. Conversely, by decreasing your caloric intake, you can create a calorie deficit and lose weight. To make up for the calorie deficit, your body burns fat for energy. Knowing how to safely create a calorie deficit is the first step toward successful weight loss.


A caloric deficit is created by eating less, moving more or a combination of both.

Step 1: Calorie Deficit Calculator

Calculate the number of calories your body needs in order to maintain your current weight. Your basal metabolic rate, commonly called your BMR, is a measurement of the number of calories your body burns in a day at rest. The BMR formula for men is as follows: BMR = 66 + (6.23 x weight in pounds) + (12.7 x height in inches) - 6.8 x age in years). The formula for women varies slightly, and is as follows: BMR = 655 + (4.35 x weight in pounds) + (4.7 x height in inches) - (4.7 x age in years), according to

Step 2: Calorie Deficit Diet

Reduce your daily caloric intake to create a calorie deficit diet between your BMR and your daily intake. The more calories you cut from your BMR, the larger the caloric deficit, which means more weight loss. MedlinePlus recommends a daily caloric reduction of 500 calories for weight loss of one pound per week, or 1,000 calories for two pounds per week. Follow these guidelines to establish your daily caloric intake. For example, a person with a BMR of 2,000 calories who wants to lose one pound per week should reduce their daily calorie allowance to 1,500 calories.

Step 3: Increase Your Activity

Increase your calorie deficit with regular exercise to help create a calorie deficit for weight loss, as described by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Measure your heart rate at the end of your workout by placing your fingers on the side of your throat, where your carotid artery is located. To find the calories you burn with exercise, use a calculator and the appropriate equation: Males: [(-55.0969 + (.6309 x heart rate in beats per minute) + (.438 x weight in pounds) + (.2017 x age in years)] / 4.184; or females: [(-20.4022 + (.4472 x heart rate in beats per minute) + (.278 x weight in pounds) + (.074 x age in years)] / 4.184.

Multiply your result by the number of minutes you exercised. Add the total number of calories to your BMR to find your total daily caloric allowance. For example: A person with a BMR of 2,000 calories, who burns 300 calories from exercise, with a weight loss goal of 1 pound per week, has a daily caloric allowance of 1,800 calories (2,000 - 500 + 300).


Get a heart rate monitor to evaluate your heart rate during exercise.

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