What is a Caloric Deficit? – Explained!

Within this article, I will answer the question, what is a caloric deficit? It is a VERY important thing for a specific goal, in fact, it is required. Within this article, I will explain what a caloric deficit is, its benefits/purposes and how you can implement it within your routine for your goals!

Caloric Deficit Explained:

A caloric deficit is taking in less calories than you burn throughout the day. Calories burned come from these 4 things: (BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate, NEAT – Not Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, TEF – Thermic Effect of Food, EA – Exercise Activity). Whatever the grand total of these factors is would be your maintenance calories. You would then need to eat below this amount of calories by a certain number to be in a caloric deficit. It may be 300, 500 or 700 calories (as an example).

What this would look like for you would be finding your maintenance calories (some suggestions would be a calorie calculator or guessing and monitoring progress). Either way monitoring progress is a good idea to find this number as neither way is 100% accurate. From there you would look at your current situation and set up a caloric deficit with that in mind.

The Benefits of a Caloric Deficit:

The reason you would be in a caloric deficit is to lose weight, in particular, fat. This is really the biggest/only reason you would want to be in a caloric deficit. The thing that makes this a benefit of a caloric deficit is the fact that you need to be in a caloric deficit to lose weight/fat.

The thing is, when you are eating at maintenance calories your body doesn’t net store or burn fat. When you are in a surplus your body has a reason to gain muscle and store fat. When you are in a caloric deficit, your body utilizes stored fat to supply the needed energy. You are giving your body a reason to adapt and lose weight/fat. You MUST be in a caloric deficit to lose weight/fat.

Implementing a Caloric Deficit:

When implementing a caloric deficit, there are a few things to consider. Most notably, your current physique, timelines you may have and how efficient/effective you want to be with your weight/fat loss. Some things that correlate to these would include the size of the caloric deficit, the amount of diet break’s you may take as well as protein intake (respectively). All these things have an impact on each other, however, they are the most notable ones respectively.

While there is a ton of information and detail to go along with this, allow me to give you the fundamentals. For the size of your caloric deficit, the bigger it is, the faster you will lose weight. Keep in mind, the bigger the caloric deficit, the harder it will be to achieve sustainability and preserve muscle mass. Diet breaks can be quite effective at helping with sustainability as well as aiding in retaining lean muscle mass. However, the more diet break’s you have, the longer the journey will be. This is by no means saying not to implement diet break’s, just keep that in mind if you are time sensitive for some reason. Diet breaks are a good idea!

Finally, we have protein intake, which is crucial for a variety of reasons. First off, a higher protein intake for weight loss is beneficial for retaining muscle mass, thus making losing weight more about fat loss. Secondly, it has a high satiety rate which is great for keeping you full and achieving diet sustainability. Lastly, protein along with fibre has the highest TEF, which is 30% (Thermic Effect of Food, the calories your body expends to metabolize a food). This helps with creating a caloric deficit.

Wrapping Up:

Within this article, I have laid out what a caloric deficit is, why it would be used, and why it NEEDS to be used, as well as some ways you can implement it! All in all, if you want to lose weight, be in a caloric deficit. Prioritize protein intake and weight training to help preserve lean muscle mass.

I look forward to this information being able to benefit you in your fitness journey! If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!


Until Next Time,


Kohl Johnson

I thank you for taking the time to read this article! As always, if you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to leave them below and I will be sure to reply!

Support is much appreciated if you benefited from this:

Kohl Johnson

I am a 16-year-old fitness fanatic! I have learned nothing but quality training and nutrition information from the utmost well-respected individuals in the field. Now, my only focus is to share this knowledge with you for your benefit, in the most honest way possible. We are all in this together! LET'S GO!

4 Responses

  1. When trying to burn calories what type of exercise is the easiest to do but burns the most calories?

    What about foods like celery. I have heard they  actually burn more calories eating than they are worth. Is there anything to that? Does eating foods like those help to actually lose weight? Also, what type of protein is the most beneficial. Do you have a brand you recommend?

    • Hi Sarah, first off all, cardio isn’t the most important thing for weight loss. Your nutrition is, then weight training would come before cardio. However, cardio can be a useful tool to help create a calorie deficit and make your nutrition more sustainable. I wouldn’t look for the easiest form of cardio as easy doesn’t typically produce results, however, some forms that are good would be the treadmill or elliptical. However, there are many other options that work well also.

      For your second question, what you are describing is a “negative energy food” which as you said, means your body burns more calories to use the food than the food has in it. Those do not exist, plain and simple. If they did exist though, the benefits of it would be its aid in creating a caloric deficit while helping with satiety (keeping you full). 

      For your last question, assuming you are talking about protein powder, any quality whey protein will be similar across the different brands. I personally use Allmax Isoflex, however, other brands such as Redcon1 Isotope or Optimum Nutrition 100% Whey are good as well. Caseine is a fine form of protein powder as well, with the main difference compared to whey being a slower absorption rate.

      Hope that helps and feel free to ask any other questions you may have!

  2. Thank you so much for providing the information about caloric deficit. To be honest, I have never heard of the term ‘caloric deficit’ before I stumbled upon this article. It is very beneficial to me because I am looking for ways to lose weight recently.

    However, I am quite worried about taking the wrong approach to losing weight. Now that I know the importance of protein intake thanks to your post. I look forward for more posts like this from you. Keep up the good work!

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