Creating A Deficit

To lose weight I need to eat less and move more. Thus creating a deficit in calories.
There is a book called The Body Fat Solution by Tom Venuto. In this book Tom suggests to create a calorie deficit of 15-20% of your calorie intake. He believes that is enough to avoid hunger feelings but will still add up to a significant amount of calories burned every week to create weight loss.
For example, if you are currently eating 1200 calories a day (like me!), you could create a calorie deficit of 15% by eating 180 fewer calories a day. Or you could burn 180 more calories a day, or combine eating less with burning more to achieve the 180 calorie deficit.
 MFP has me on a 1200 calorie diet based on my height, weight, and daily lifestyle. 
For all healthy purposes I should not eat any less than 1200 calories per day. I want some wiggle room, so I am going to shoot for a 20% calorie deficit. 
1200 calories – 20% deficit = 240 calories. 
Since I can’t shouldn’t eat less than 1200 calories; I need to burn 240 more than I eat. 
Of course these numbers are just estimates and a good starting point to figure out what is going to work for my body (or your body). 
I can say that I have not been good at creating a deficit, which is probably why I have maintained my 187-189 weight for almost 2 months now. That is encouraging for when I ACTUALLY reach my goal weight, but it’s not so swell now! 
Honestly, I have been OVER my calorie goal more times than not lately. 
More calories consumed than burned!

On MFP I am supposed to eat 1200 calories, and if I log a workout it adds those estimated burned calories to my allowed calorie intake — “exercise calories”. Essentially, I could eat more when I work out, but if I only burn 240 calories (or less) and eat all those extra calories then it’s not doing me any good.   
MFP can only estimate how many calories I burn during a workout, and I don’t have a HRM. I have to believe that HRM’s are more accurate than MFP but still not 100% accurate. Just like I believe that the daily food calories I input on MFP are also a close estimate. 

I feel there is no way for me to be 100% accurate on my calorie intake vs calorie burn.
Which is a crucial reason why I need to make sure that I have a deficit of 240 (or as close as possible) everyday. A difference of 1680 calories per week. In theory that will translate to weight loss.
Creating a deficit in calories is the essential part of weight loss. Eat less, move more. Sounds easy, right? For me, it has been anything but! 

**It makes sense in my head. I apologize if it doesn’t make sense to the readers.**


9 thoughts on “Creating A Deficit


    Hi Sabrina! 🙂 I thought I’d add my thoughts/suggestions…

    I don’t know your height, but the 1200 cals that MFP has recommended for you is already based on creating a deficit so that you will reach your target weight loss, so you shouldn’t need to create any further deficit. Otherwise you’ll be at a net total daily calorie amount less than 1200 per day (generally not recommended for health reasons). So if anything you may end up carrying too high a deficit which will make it very difficult to do for any extended period of time, and can lead to binge eating/falling off the diet. In other words, if you are eating 1200 calories per day, then exercise and burn 250 calories, you should be eating back those 250 calories (or at least half of them), since you shouldn’t be going below net 1200 calories. And like I said the 1200 calorie number is already giving you a deficit every day (I don’t know exactly how much calorie deficit it’s giving you because I don’t know your BMR).

    But for example, I am 5’2.5″, 105 lbs, sedentary, and I need around 1460 cals per day just to maintain my weight, anything I eat less than that will create a deficit. (This is why I know that 1200 is already creating a deficit for you). So if I’ve been slacking for a few months (eating more than 1460per day consistently) and find my weight creeping upwards I drop down to 1200 cals, this will create a 260 cal deficit per day, which would mean I will lose a pound every 2 weeks (basically add up your deficit daily until it gets to 3500 and you should in theory lose 1 lb, since 1lb=3500 cals). If I work out on a given day and burn 100 calories, it means I can eat an extra 100 cals and still be at net 1200 calories for the day. Once I reach my target weight I increase my cals back to 1460 since I can maintain at that amount. (As a side note- I could just as easily eat 1460 the entire time instead of 1200 and end up back at my target weight, it would just take longer).

    I’m not sure if this info helps or if I’m repeating what you already know or if its just more confusing to you. I’ve been meaning to write an article about the mathematics surrounding weight loss to help explain how the calculations should be done to figure out how many calories to eat, how to handle the calories you burn when you exercise, and how to project your weight loss. The calculations are pretty easy, but your starting point needs to be correct.

    Also, you’re right that everything in the end (calories you eat, calories you burn, etc) is an estimate and not 100% exact, in the end the most important thing is just to be consistent, any small margin of error will balance out over time.

    Feel free to msg me if you have questions. 🙂

  2. PlushBelle

    The numbers make complete sense to me! All of the stuff my nutritionist gave me was basic math, and it does make total sense. I’m hoping to add an additional 500 calorie deficit to my plan daily by working out. But, one step at a time for me. 🙂

  3. Sarah

    I got most of what you were trying to say.. I think.. It’s always good to try to move more, but like you said, it’s easier said than done..

    I wish you all the luck in the world, and I know you can do it.. 🙂



    To answer your question above, BMR and maintenance calories are not the same thing. BMR is the calories your body burns at rest all day (like if you were in a coma). The maintenance calorie calculator will include your activity level and tell you how much you burn on average every day doing your usual routine. This means even if you only drop your calorie intake to your BMR you’ll lose weight since you actually burn more than that daily. Exactly how much more you burn depends how active you are.

    So for example, my BMR is 1243 using that website, and as I mentioned to maintain my weight is around 1460. The difference is due to activity level (which is sedentary…but even being sedentary means doing minimal stuff like walking to the bathroom, showering, eating, etc). So I can drop down to 1243 and I’d lose weight, but I usually drop down to 1200 to make it a little faster.

    Hope this helps!


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