Everything you need to know about the calorie deficit diet

In India’s ever-expanding fitness industry, most young adults are looking for ways to lose weight. With many opinions on different weight loss methods, a calorie deficit diet is a commonly recommended method by a majority of experts.

In this article we will talk about what is a calorie deficit diet? How does it work? And how do you calculate it? To help you understand it better, we’ll also include an example of a calorie deficit diet to jumpstart your journey!

Introduction

With the “fitness boom” in the country, more and more people are becoming aware of their health. The term ‘calorie deficit’ has gained a lot of popularity in India in the recent past.

A calorie deficit diet has been the centerpiece of the weight loss process, especially among young adults looking to begin their weight loss journey.

However, a calorie-deficient diet must be planned and must contain all the essential vitamins, nutrients, fats and carbohydrates your body needs.

With many fitness enthusiasts and practitioners offering a wide variety of tips, suggestions and more, it can be confusing what exactly a calorie deficit diet is, how it works and how to calculate the calorie deficit.

What is a calorie deficit diet?

To understand what a calorie deficit diet is, we need to get to the basics. A calorie is a unit of energy that you take in when you eat something. When the total calories expended are less than what you burn, you reach a calorie deficit.

But before you understand the calorie deficit, it’s essential to know how many calories you need per day.

Three main factors determine the number of calories you need in a day.

  • Basal Metabolic Rate: Basal metabolic rate, or BMR, is the amount of energy your body needs to function. A person’s BMR depends on several factors such as age, sex, weight, height.
  • Fysical activity: Each physical activity accounts for up to 40% of your daily calorie needs. This also includes training.
  • Thermic effect of food: The thermic effect of food is the energy required to digest and absorb the food you consume.

So if your total food consumption doesn’t match the calorie needs to perform the aforementioned tasks, you are putting your body in a calorie deficit.

Calculate calorie deficit

To calculate daily calorie needs and deficits, different dietitians and nutritionists use different formulas and equations. However, the most commonly used equation is the Harris-Benedict equation.

Here you need to calculate your basal metabolic rate using your age, weight and height. When you’re done, your BMR is multiplied by an activity factor determined by how much you move in a day. For example, if you rarely exercise in a month, you can multiply your BMR by 1.12. However, if you exercise 3 to 5 days a week, your calorie requirement is your BMR x 1.55.

To maintain a calorie deficit, you need to take in fewer calories than your body needs or burns in a day. Ideally, most dietitians and fitness trainers suggest a 500-calorie deficit. For example, if your daily calorie intake is 3,000 calories, you should consume 2,500 calories.

According to studies, 1 pound of fat has been calculated to store up to 3,500 calories. So if your calorie intake is reduced by 500 calories per day, you can lose up to 1 pound at the end of 1 week. But this varies from person to person because different bodies react differently.

How does a calorie deficit diet work?

Studies suggest that for the calorie deficit diet to work and for you to lose weight, you need to stick with it for a longer period of time. If you are on a calorie-deficit diet for a long period of time, the total energy your body needs to survive on a daily basis is less, which is why your body is not getting that energy.

To perform all its functions, the body will use the stored energy to make up for the deficiency, causing the loss of existing calories. This ultimately results in total weight loss.

However, since each person’s functioning and metabolism differ, a calorie-deficit diet alone may not lead to weight loss. To lose weight efficiently, a calorie-deficit diet combined with daily exercise is the best way.

As mentioned earlier, it can take 7 days to lose up to 1 pound of fat with a calorie deficit of 3,500 in a week. Keeping the calculation in mind, you would need a 7,000 calorie deficit to lose 2 pounds of fat, which can be harmful to your body. Because of this, exercise or sticking to an exercise routine and a calorie-deficit diet would be an efficient way to lose weight.

It is important to understand that you need to have a minimum calorie consumption threshold for your body. According to the National Institutes of Health, you shouldn’t eat less than 1,000 calories a day. Having very few calories can slow down the weight loss process and can harm your health.

4-day sample diet plan

This sample meal plan provides you with 1,200 calories per day and provides a calorie deficit of 300 calories if your total daily calorie requirement is 1,500 calories.

Day 1 Diet Plan

time eating pattern
Early morning Cucumber water – 1 glass
Breakfast 1 small bowl of oats/porridge + nuts
Afternoon (12 noon) Skimmed milk paneer (1 small bowl)
Lunch (2pm) Dal – 1 small bowl + Vegetable Salad – 1 small bowl + Roti – 1
Snacks (4 p.m.) Apple – 1 + Buttermilk – 1 glass
Morning (5:30 PM) Tea with minimal sugar and milk – 1 teacup
Dinner (9 p.m.) Dal – 1 small bowl + Vegetable salad – 1 bowl + Roti – 1

Day 2 diet plan

time eating pattern
Early morning Cucumber water – 1 glass
Breakfast Smoothie with fruit and nuts – 1 glass + Omelette – 1 egg
Afternoon (12 noon) Skimmed milk paneer (1 small bowl)
Lunch (2pm) Dal – 1 small bowl + Bhindi curry – 1 small bowl + Vegetable salad – 1 bowl + Roti – 1
Snacks (4 p.m.) Orange – 1 + Buttermilk – 1 glass
Morning (5:30 PM) Coffee with minimal sugar and milk – 1 cup
Dinner (9 p.m.) Dal – 1 small bowl + mixed vegetable salad – 1 cup + rice – 1 small bowl

Day 3 diet plan

time eating pattern
Early morning Luke warm lemon/turmeric water – 1 glass
Breakfast Idli – 2 + Sambar – 1 small bowl
Afternoon (12 noon) Skimmed milk paneer (a small bowl)
Lunch (2pm) Potato and Brinjal curry – 1 small bowl + mixed vegetable salad – 1 cup + Roti – 1 + curd – 1 small bowl
Snacks (4 p.m.) Banana – 1 + Buttermilk – 1 glass
Morning (5:30 PM) Tea with minimal sugar and milk – 1 teacup
Dinner (9 p.m.) Dal – 1 small bowl + Mixed vegetable salad – 1 cup + Roti – 1

Day 4 diet plan

time eating pattern
Early morning Luke warm lemon/turmeric water – 1 glass
Breakfast Gram Flour Pancakes – 2 + Green Garlic Chutney
Afternoon (12 noon) Skimmed milk paneer (a small bowl)
Lunch (2pm) Fried paneer and vegetable curry – 1 small bowl + Vegetable salad – 1 bowl + Roti – 1
Snacks (4 p.m.) Banana – 1 + Buttermilk – 1 glass
Morning (5:30 PM) Tea with minimal sugar and milk – 1 teacup
Dinner (9 p.m.) Paneer curry – 1 small bowl + Mixed vegetable salad – 1 cup + Roti – 1

This is a 4-day sample meal plan of 1,200 calories. The dishes you want to have for lunch and dinner can be customized according to your likes and dislikes. However, the amount should remain the same.

In conclusion, a calorie deficit diet is one of the most efficient ways to lose weight when done in consultation with a dietician or nutritionist. This method provides your body with the necessary calories to perform its daily functions. At the same time, the deficiency helps your body use existing energy stores to perform additional functions and facilitates weight loss.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can a calorie deficit diet harm my body?

A. It is suggested that you consult a doctor before creating a calorie deficit diet for your body. Coming up with a calorie deficit diet that is less than 1,000 calories can harm your body because your body is not getting the basic amount of calories, nutrients and energy to perform basic functions.

Q. Will a calorie deficit diet help me lose weight immediately?

A. No, structuring a calorie deficit meal plan, following it and then seeing the effect is a process that takes time. For a calorie deficit diet to work, one must follow it over a long period of time. Following it for a week or two may not bring the desired results.

Q. What foods should I avoid on a calorie deficit diet?

A. To get the most out of your calorie-deficit diet, avoid carbonated drinks or other drinks with a high sugar content, such as processed juices, canned coffee or tea. Apart from this, you should limit your intake of processed foods, convenience foods, fried foods, and your alcohol consumption.

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