If you’re exploring keto, you may hear people kick around the phrase “calorie deficit.” In fact, we use it in our very own Keto-Mojo Macro Calculator (MyMojoMacros). But what is it and why should you care? Let’s get clear on what a calorie deficit is and why you want to know about it.
What is a Calorie Deficit?
A calorie deficit is the same thing as a caloric deficit: it’s a shortage in the number of calories you should eat to maintain your current weight.
People trying to lose weight intentionally operate at a calorie or caloric deficit for obvious reasons: if you lower your daily calorie intake to consume less than your body needs to maintain your current body weight (energy homeostasis), your body burns reserves (i.e. body fat) in order to function properly and consequently loses weight.
What’s the Right Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight?
To gain weight, you need to eat more calories than your body burns on a daily basis. So it makes sense that if you’re looking to lose weight, you need to craft a diet plan where you eat an amount of calories that totals less than your body burns on a daily basis.
To do this, you practice calorie counting and healthy eating and monitor your food intake. But, as with most things, the right deficit is not one size fits all. The correct total number of calories for you to operate at a safe deficit depends on a number of factors, including your sex, age, your weight, your height, your physical activity, and how much weight you want to lose.
To calculate your calorie deficit, you first determine your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) or Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) based on age, gender, height, and weight. BMR and RMR are used interchangeably and refer to the number of calories you need to perform the most basic and essential functions like breathing. Then you factor in your daily activities to identify how many calories you need each day just to maintain your current weight. By knowing your daily calorie needs, you can calculate a calorie deficit based on your weight-loss goals.
There are calculators that can help you determine the right calorie deficit for you. These calculators determine your BMR or RMR, essentially how many calories you should eat to maintain energy homeostasis (your everyday functioning without losing weight), then tell you how many calories you need to eliminate (burn through exercise or more likely subtract from your daily caloric intake) to achieve your weight-loss goal.
Using a Macro Calculator to Determine the Right Calorie Deficit
If you’re attempting to lose weight, a macro calculator will help you determine a safe, sustainable calorie deficit—i.e. one that won’t make you so tired or hungry that you can’t stay on the diet. It will tell you how many calories you should eat to maintain your current weight, factoring in your sex, age, weight, height and activity level. Then it will tell you what percentage of calories you should cut daily to achieve your desired weight loss (the calorie deficit needed to reach your goal).
A macro calculator will also tell you how many of your daily calories should come from fat, protein, and carbohydrates on a ketogenic diet. This, along with tracking what you eat so you don’t eat more than you think and so you also make sure to eat the right amounts of fat, protein, and carbs, is essential to successfully meeting your weight-loss goals.
Fortunately, we have an easy and convenient calculator here on this website. The Keto-Mojo MyMojoMacros calculator will individualize your macros (daily calories broken into fat, protein, and carbohydrates) for a ketogenic diet based on your personal data, activity level and fat-loss goals. Start calculating your macros here!
The Final Word
A calorie deficit is a shortage of calories needed to maintain your current weight. To lose weight through dieting, you need to determine the right calorie deficit to achieve your weight loss goals then craft eating habits supporting the deficit. The right calorie deficit for you depends on your sex, age, weight, height, activity level, and weight-loss goals. Using a macro calculator helps you best understand a caloric deficit that’s safe for losing weight in a healthy way, allows for success over a reasonable amount of time, and takes into account specific things about you and your body. Once you know the right calorie deficit for you, you can adjust your diet to eat less food or lower-calorie foods, control portion sizes, and of course eat fewer calories. As with all new diets, it’s a good idea to consult your physician or a registered dietitian before starting a new diet.