How To Achieve A Calorie Deficit: A Comprehensive Guide

Getting rid of the excess fat on your frame and losing weight typically revolves around one main principle: calorie deficits. Think of your body as a machine that uses chemical energy from the foods and beverages you consume to power everything you do from breathing to thinking. The energy your body extracts from the things you eat is called calories. 

Losing weight requires consistently achieving calorie deficits, forcing your body to get the additional energy it needs from your fat reserves. When you consume more energy than your body needs daily, the excess is stored as fat which the body can tap into whenever it needs more energy than it has ingested. 

Diet and exercise are the cornerstone of any weight loss program since both have a considerable impact on your goals to achieve a caloric deficit. Exercise causes your body to burn more calories than it normally does and helps to build lean muscle mass. Some activities like training martial arts like Muay Thai can burn up to 1,000 calories for every hour spent on the mat. 


Understanding How Your Calorie Intake Shapes Your Body

A caloric deficit is achieved when you consume fewer calories than your body expends in a day. Your body requires a certain amount of energy (calories) daily to perform basic functions like breathing, digestion, and maintaining body temperature – this is known as your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). 

When you factor in physical activities, from walking to intense workouts, you get your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE). To lose weight, your calorie intake should be less than your TDEE.

Some of the benefits of consistently reaching a calorie deficit include:

  • Promotes Weight Loss: A deficit of 500 calories per day can result in a loss of about one pound a week.
  • Improves Body Composition: A calorie deficit can help to improve total body composition when combined with resistance training.
  • Improved Metabolic Health: Consistently being calorie deficit improves insulin sensitivity which leads to a healthier lipid profile and reduces your risk of type 2 diabetes.


How To Achieve A Calorie Deficit

Ready to start your weight loss journey? Here are the different steps that help you reach your goals:


1) Figure Out Your Maintenance Calories

Your weight loss journey starts by determining your Total Daily Energy Expenditure. There are countless apps and websites that can help you figure out what that is based on factors like your age, gender, weight, and activity levels. 

Understanding your maintenance caloric intake is foundational when embarking on a dieting journey. This refers to the number of calories you need to consume daily to maintain your current weight, factoring in both your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the energy expended at rest for basic bodily functions — and your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) – the calories burned through daily activities and exercise. 

Calculating this maintenance threshold provides a benchmark from which you can determine how much you need to eat below (for weight loss) or above (for weight gain). 

The best way to accurately pinpoint your maintenance needs is through trial and observation, adjusting your caloric intake based on weight changes, and tracking your calories over time. Monitoring maintenance is a dynamic process, especially during dieting, as metabolic adaptations occur and as your weight and activity levels shift.


2) Set A Calorie Target

Once you’ve calculated how many calories your body needs daily aim for a daily deficit of 500 to 1,000 calories. Cutting your calories by more than that margin can lead to issues like low energy levels and the loss of lean muscle tissue. 

A calorie deficit of about 500 calories daily leads to about half a kilogram loss in weight weekly. That’s the ideal target for most people. 


3) Track Your Calorie Intake

Many smartphones now come with inbuilt health apps that you can use to track your calorie intake and there are many free apps available online. Calorie counting was once a tedious task since you had to figure out the calorie content of whatever you consumed, but thanks to modern tech, it’s now as simple as entering what you ate or drank into an app while it figures out how many calories they contain. 


4) Make Nutrient-Dense Foods A Major Part Of Your Diet

Vegetables and fruits

Vegetables, proteins, and fruits are fundamental for a calorie-deficit diet.

Make whole foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats a major part of your diet when aiming for a calorie deficit. They’re not only low in calories but also packed with essential nutrients. You also get to eat more food thanks to their low-calorie content. 


5) Consume Modest Portions

Keep your portion modest when dieting. Even healthy foods can lead to calorie surplus when consumed in excess. That’s why counting calories is so important since it lets you know if you’re overeating so adjustments can be made. 


6) Stay Hydrated


Staying hydrated is important and always part of a successful diet.

Hydration plays a pivotal role in the efficiency of any dieting endeavor. Water aids in numerous physiological processes, including nutrient transport, temperature regulation, and digestion. 

When dieting, water can act as a natural appetite suppressant, often mitigating feelings of hunger as the body sometimes confuses thirst for hunger pangs. Drinking ample water also supports the body’s ability to metabolize stored fat and helps in the elimination of waste products produced during the fat breakdown process. 

Dehydration can lead to decreased energy levels, reducing the motivation to exercise and potentially leading to suboptimal workouts. Maintaining proper hydration ensures that the body functions at its best, optimizing the benefits of a calorie-restricted regimen and fostering better overall health.


7) Avoid Calorie-Empty Foods

Minimize consumption of sugary drinks, processed snacks, and other high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. They don’t fill you up much, yet they significantly increase your daily calorie intake. For example, six cans of soda a day gives you 900 useless calories that don’t provide any nutrients but hinder your weight loss goals. 

Sweet beverages are one of the most consumed empty-calorie foods and many people can reach a caloric deficit without making any changes to their diets by simply cutting them out. 


8) Add Resistance Training To Your Routine

sage northcutt weights

Weightlifting is beneficial for engaging and building muscles during a weight loss journey.

Lifting weights helps to preserve and increase muscle mass. Increased muscle mass gives your metabolism a boost allowing your body to burn more calories even when you’re rested. Resistance training also helps to maintain muscle mass as you shed those excess pounds on your frame. 

When dieting, the primary goal is often weight loss, but the type of weight lost can vary between muscle and fat. Resistance training becomes crucial in this context as it helps preserve, or even build, lean muscle mass while facilitating fat loss. Muscle is metabolically active, meaning it burns more calories at rest than fat. 

By incorporating resistance training into a dieting regimen, individuals can boost their metabolic rate, ensuring that they burn more calories throughout the day. Moreover, maintaining or enhancing muscle mass gives the body a toned appearance, often desired alongside weight loss. 

Additionally, adding muscle mass improves your body’s functionality, supporting your strength, balance, and movement. A caloric deficit might lead to a disproportionate loss of muscle, potentially hindering physical performance and metabolic efficiency without resistance training. 


9) Add Fun Cardio Activities To Your Fitness Routine

hiroki running outdoors

Running comes with tons of benefits when paired with a calorie deficit diet.

Cardiovascular exercises, whether it’s brisk walking, running, sprinting, cycling, or swimming, are excellent for burning calories. Find something you enjoy so you can stick to it for a long time. It might be competitive sports like basketball or physically demanding martial arts like Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Muay Thai. Cardiovascular activities help to burn more fat and calories. 


10) Get Enough Sleep

Lack of sleep can disrupt hunger hormones like ghrelin and leptin, leading to increased appetite and calorie consumption. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep each night. Getting quality rest also helps your body to recover from your fitness routine. 

Adequate sleep is paramount to your holistic well-being, acting as your body’s natural restoration phase. During deep sleep, critical physiological processes occur. Tissues grow and repair themselves, hormones crucial for growth and stress response are released, and cognitive functions, like memory and learning, are consolidated. 

Sleep plays an instrumental role in emotional stability, helping to regulate mood and mitigate stress and anxiety. Consistent lack of restful sleep not only results in physical fatigue and impaired cognitive function, it can also make you susceptible to chronic diseases like as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. In an age of constant stimulation and busy schedules, prioritizing sufficient, quality sleep is not merely a luxury—it’s a fundamental necessity for maintaining optimal health, both mentally and physically.


11) Don’t Ignore Your Body

Ensure your calorie deficit doesn’t lead to extreme fatigue, dizziness, or other health issues. If it does, consider reducing the deficit and seeking guidance. Drastic diets can leave you undernourished and lethargic and you’re more likely to regain the weight. 

An ideal dieting plan only requires you to make slight changes to your current diet so you form new habits you can stick to for the rest of your life. 


12) Periodically Reassess Your Calorie Needs


Always journal to keep track of and monitor your goals.

As you lose weight, your TDEE will decrease, so adjust your calorie intake accordingly. Embarking on a weight loss journey often involves monitoring and adjusting your calorie intake to achieve a desired deficit. However, a common oversight many dieters make is setting a static calorie target and sticking to it indefinitely. 

As your weight drops and body composition changes, so too do your body’s energy requirements. Periodically reassessing your caloric needs ensures that you continue to lose weight at a steady pace and maintain overall health.

The body’s daily caloric requirement is determined by various factors: the Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), which accounts for the calories needed to maintain body functions at rest, and the calories burned through daily activities and exercise. As you shed pounds, the energy required for these processes typically decreases. Continuing with the same caloric intake that you started with might slow down weight loss or even lead to a plateau.

For instance, someone who begins their journey at 90 kilograms will have a markedly different BMR than when they weigh 77 kilograms. If they don’t adjust their calorie consumption, the deficit they initially established will diminish. Over time, they may find themselves eating maintenance calories for their new weight, stalling their progress.

Changes in muscle mass can also influence energy requirements. Resistance training, often incorporated into weight loss regimens to preserve or build muscle, can elevate the BMR since muscle tissue requires more energy to maintain than fat. Thus, someone who gains muscle might need more calories than their weight alone would suggest.

Regularly evaluating and recalibrating your calorie goals – every few weeks or after every significant weight change – ensures that you’re in tune with your body’s evolving needs. Using BMR calculators, keeping track of physical activity levels, and even considering periodic check-ins with a nutritionist can be beneficial. This proactive approach not only sustains weight loss momentum but also supports metabolic health and overall well-being.

Things To Avoid When Dieting

  • Avoid Extreme Deficits: Drastic calorie reduction can lead to muscle loss, metabolic slowdown, and nutritional deficiencies
  • Stay Mindful Of Nutrient Intake: Achieving a calorie deficit is not just about cutting calories; it’s crucial to ensure you’re getting all essential nutrients
  • Avoid Overestimating Calorie Burn: Exercise machines and even fitness apps can sometimes overestimate the number of calories burned during workouts
  • Beware Of The “Reward” Mindset: Just because you had an intense workout doesn’t mean you should indulge in high-calorie treats

Achieving a calorie deficit is an evidence-backed approach to losing weight and improving your overall health. However, it’s essential to approach it with knowledge, strategy, and attentiveness to your body’s signals. Remember that individual needs can vary, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider or nutritionist when embarking on significant dietary or lifestyle changes. 

You can achieve and maintain a calorie deficit for sustained health and wellness benefits with dedication to your goals and a balanced approach. Follow the formula, add a fun workout routine you look forward to, and watch those excess layers of fat on your midsection melt away. 


Lead A Healthier Lifestyle With Evolve MMA Today! 

muay thai bag

Training in Muay Thai can burn up to 1,000 calories per session and release endorphins that will leave you feeling better than when you first started.

In addition to their highly experienced team of trainers, Evolve MMA offers a wide range of martial art packages with classes taught by World Champions across all major disciplines, including Muay Thai, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Submission Grappling, MMA and more. Our classes cater to all age groups, genders, skills and fitness levels, so even beginners can try it out. So work hard and play hard – all at Evolve MMA. Contact us for a free trial to begin your warrior lifestyle today.


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