What Is A Calorie Deficit?

April 3, 2015

Before you slash your calorie intake it's important to know how many calories your body needs to function and get through the day.

You'll want to establish a baseline to help you calculate how many calories you can expect to lose in the weeks and months ahead.

Maintenance Calories

Everyone requires a certain amount of calories to maintain their current weight. To remain constant, not gaining or losing, you need to consistently stay in this range.

A 21 year old male who is active and weighs 170 lbs, would need to eat 2500-2700 calories to maintain his weight. Your specific maintenance range will vary depending on age, gender, and height.

You can use this calorie calculator to find your calorie range for your current weight.

A hidden roadblock for most people is age and metabolism. As you get older your metabolism slows and doesn't burn through calories at the same rate.

A 170 lb teen would need to consume more calories than a 170 lb forty year old to maintain body weight.

Even though they have the same weight, their metabolism burns through calories at different rates. Generally, the older you are the less calories are needed to maintain weight.


Calorie Surplus

Now that you know your current maintenance range, you can more easily identify when you're in a calorie surplus. This means you're consuming more calories than you need, and your body will begin to store excess calories as body fat.

It's the basic concept of weight gain. Put simply, you're taking in more energy than you need to maintain your current weight.

To gain weight you would need to consistently remain in a calorie surplus. Being in a surplus for one or two days, is not going to cause significant weight gain.

Staying in a surplus for two straight weeks will add new body weight and establish a new, higher maintenance calorie range for your body.

Calorie Deficit

The calorie deficit is the exact opposite of the calorie surplus. It means you're not getting enough calories from food to maintain your current body weight.

Your body still needs energy to function, so it will begin breaking down and utilizing stored fat cells for energy.

Again, being in a calorie deficit for one or two days isn't enough to change your body composition. But staying in a calorie deficit for several weeks is enough begin losing body fat as your body adapts to your changing calorie intake.

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