You Asked: ''How Do I Create a Calorie Deficit or Burn More Calories Than I Eat?''

By , SparkPeople Blogger
It sounds like you're referring to a "calories in vs. calories out" type of equation. First you need to understand that one pound of fat is made up of roughly 3,500 extra calories. So in order to lose one pound of fat, you need to create a caloric deficit of 3,500 calories. 

Basically, you can create a deficit of calories in three different ways: 

1. Eat fewer calories than you burn each day. Keep in mind that your body burns calories all day long as part of your basal metabolic rate (BMR), because it takes energy (calories) for your body to perform basic physiological functions that are necessary for life—breathing, digesting, circulating, thinking and more. On top of that, physical activity (bathing, walking, typing and exercising) uses even more calories each day. 

It's not important for you to know what your BMR is. Your SparkDiet has already estimated your BMR based on variables like age, gender and weight, so you don't have to do any calculations. The calorie goal recommended in your SparkDiet plan will help you create a caloric deficit and lose weight.

Example: If you eat 500 fewer calories each day for a week, you'll lose about one pound of fat (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories). Again, keep in mind that your SparkDiet has already done these calculations for you, so simply follow the calorie recommendations on your plan (don't eat less than is already recommended).

2. Burn more calories than you consume by increasing your physical activity. If you eat enough calories to support your BMR, but exercise more, you'll create a caloric deficit simply by burning extra calories. This works only when you're not overeating to begin with. 

Example: Regardless of your BMR, if you exercised to burn an extra 500 calories each day, you'll lose about one pound of fat in a week (500 calories x 7 days = 3,500 calories).

3. A combination of eating fewer calories and exercising to burn more calories. This is the most effective way to lose weight and keep it off. It's much easier to create a substantial calorie deficit when you combine dieting with exercise because you don't have to deprive yourself from food, and you don't have to exercise in crazy amounts.

Example: If you cut just 200 calories a day from your diet and burned just 300 calories a day by exercising, you'd lose about one pound per week. Compare that to the other examples above—you're losing weight at about the same rate without making major changes to your diet or exercise routine. Some people hate to cut calories, while others hate to exercise, so a combination approach allows you to do more of whatever comes easier for you. 

As long as you are consistent, your calorie deficit will "add up" over time, and you’ll slim down. But it's important to remember that your SparkDiet Nutrition and Fitness recommendations are already based on the goals you created. You don't have to do any extra math. Simply follow the Nutrition and Fitness recommendations on your Trackers and you'll be creating the deficit needed to reach your goal weight! 

It's also important to note that although this math seems relatively simple, our bodies are very complicated and you might not always see the results you expect based on equations alone. Many other factors can affect your weight loss rate along the way.

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BONDMANUS2002 1/3/2021
Great Report
REDROBIN47 11/30/2020
Thank you for the blog. Report
I will have to wait on exercise. I broke my ankle. I can't put no weight on it. Report
SNUZYQ2 9/12/2020
Thank you for spelling out the weight loss equation. Adding more calories to support exercise helped me to break through my longest-lasting weight loss plateau! Lesson learned! Report
Its pretty simple for me. Eat right and have 3 smaller meals and 2 snacks in a day. Work out at a moderate level for at least 2 hours a day. Move more, drink 64 ounces of water in a day. Avoid sugar, red meats, most dairy and pork. Get 7 hours of sleep and don't stress unnecessarily. I don't have to concern myself with CICO or complicated formulas. Report
ROCKRS 8/4/2020
thanks Report
😎 Report
Thanks for sharing this one! Love it! Report
Gotta do the hard work Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Nice article Report
It seems to be working but want to try to increase exercise more. Thanks Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Great advice! Thanks! Report
Great Article
Tracking what I eat is already making me aware of the hidden calories in my day. This article motivates me to exercise to ward them off. With thyroid issues I am wondering if the numbers required to lose a pound are greater for me though Report
3500 calories = 1 pound? Cite your research as this was a 1950s study done under lab conditions and never repeated. Real life? About 7500 calories for a pound. Report
This is certainly true! Now to just follow thru! Report
Good read, excellent need-to-know information! Report
I wish that the numbers all worked for me, but it doesn't. I have followed the numbers for a year and not lost and kept off 5 pounds. Report
This is why I LOVE SPARKPEOPLE!!! They DO all the figuring FOR YOU! All you have to do is stay in your caloric range {I was able to stay in it only 8x a month when I first started and still lost weight}! If you want to up the ante in losing weight ,workout MORE {but still EAT in your caloric range!}. I was LOSING for NINE STRAIGHT WEEKS on the 5% Summer Challenge and Interim Challenge and all I was doing was clean eating and exercising more! YOU CAN DO IT! ~USE the TOOLS they give you!~Note: When I exercise , I am doing 3x a wk/mile runs 2x /wk ST ~Strength Training and doing chores besides that. I am in good health and am outdoors most of the time as we live on a farm. Report
Thanks for sharing! Report
Great information. A lot of things and more sense to me now. Report
Good advice, thanks. Report
What activities could I start doing I dance sometimes I just started dancing but I need to do something else Report
Useful post Report
Thanks for sharing Report
One of my goals this year is to keep it SIMPLE, I like this article because it's clear what to do. Yet, the body is complicated so the result will not be as linear as the math equations above. Got it! Report
wow! another inspirational story Report
Thanks, this helps me to understand. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
Simple, great advice Report
Thank you. Report
"one pound of fat is made up of roughly 3,500 extra calories"

This is sort of misleading in that it suggests that we lose fat when we diet. We actually lose glycogen and water before we lose fat. It's only when we hit the "weight loss plateau" when our bodies have depleted our glycogen reserves. Report
Thanks for sharing Report
I think I am only going to actually lose weight if I feel hungry most of the time. Maybe this is just craving, but that's what it feels like. I know that I am eating plenty not to starve to death, but I often just feel like eating, so comfort eating, really. And then the weight creeps up, or stays static. Only feeling a bit hungry loses weight for me
I didn't know much about weight until I weighed 350 pound's at 5'9, I really didn't know what was wrong with me,...then I went on the Atkin's Diet, and had seen it worked on other people, but didn't really know if it was right for me, still I proceeded to try it and fortunately it worked, yet I didn't know that diet's were personal lifestyle's...until just recently I was researching blood type's, and that you had to get tested to know your blood type, so I got tested and my result's were Blood type O+, meaning I'm a Hunter type and should eat red meat's, before I would just eat fast food with red meat, but now this diet is telling me I should eat only red meat and certain fruit's and vegetables, sound's fair to me, I quit eating dairy, eggs, potatoes, wheat, grain's, lenti's, which most have lectin's which can damage your stomach lining after time, and I quit smoking, so that's been a big achievement for me so far. Report
I resorted to weight loss surgery in a desperate attempt to lose weight because it seemed no matter what I did, I just couldn't lose. In 2011, I got the surgery, and over the course of the next 4 years (and 5 more surgeries from complications!) I only lost 31 pounds. I started to discuss with the surgeon a different surgery as I was not satisfied with the results of this one. Being both naive and ignorant, I assumed that because I'm fat, I must eat too much. (In reality, I gained the weight from medication.) I thought maybe the gastric bypass would be better, having assumed that that surgery was more about malabsorption. Turns out, with every bariatric surgery, the main goal is food restriction (eating less). I assumed the surgery, exercise, and eating as little as possible was the answer. So when the surgeon asked incredulously that I wasn't having any restriction with my chosen surgery, I told him that, in fact, I was having just fine restriction. But I still thought the less food, the better. Anyway, so the surgeon asked how I was eating, and I said, "Once, maybe twice a day, if that..." He was shocked, and said that I needed to talk to the dietician, and that I should be eating SOMEthing every 2-3 hours. Now, I rarely get hungry. It wasn't uncommon for me to go a day or two forgetting to eat, just because I wasn't hungry. Starting to eat every 2-3 hours was really hard for me. 99% of the time I'm force-feeding myself. But the surgeon and the dietician said, even if it's just half of a cheese stick or a bite of yogurt, ingest SOME healthy source of calories every 2-3 hours to keep your metabolism going. Seems really super-de-duper counter-intuitive, but I decided to give it a try. One year of eating every 2-3 hours (not even counting calories, btw) and exercising as I had been (walking 2-3 miles a day at 4mph, or biking 8-10 miles a day) and I've lost an additional 49 pounds! Imagine the weight loss had I done that from the very beginning of the surgery in 2011. Or better yet, not had the surgery at all and just started eating smaller, more frequent meals/snacks. Report
I find that creating a cal deficit diet does not really work to well for me because I was suggested to eat between 1,200-1,500 cals here on sparkpeople. But was suggested to eat no less then 1500 by another health & fitness guy.

I personally think that creating a cal deficit diet is the worse thing to do to your body specially if you want to lose weight. I personally find for me if I dont worry bout cals and just eat healthy and work out at lest once a day for at lest 20-30mins I lose weight.

If I eat the suggest cals 1,200-1,500 and work out for 20-30 mins a day I feel sick. at worse I gain weight if I stick to the suggested cal in take here and at best I just stay the same weight.

So it really depends on the person and how their body responds. My body went into Starvation Mode when creating a small 500 cal deficit in my diet. Report
DGT812 - How satisfied are you from your 1600/day in/2400/day out regimen? Seems to me you'd spend a lot of time hungry (or even "hangry"). Report
i eat approx 1600 calories per day. i burn approx 2400 calories per day. that is a 800 calories deficit x 4-1/2 days is 3500 calories which equals 1 pound of weight loss. Report
One thing I have noticed recently is that when I was cutting calories and did not reach my BMR requirement I did not lose weight. Once I focused on getting at least the lower end of the BMR requirements I noticed weight loss again. I think the body goes into "starvation mode" when you do not eat enough. Report
Note the last paragraph also - for many of us, the equation is oversimplified. I'm consistently in a calorie deficit (as measured by my SP food tracker and my BodyMedia activity tracker) but I don't consistently lose weight. Somewhere, there's more to it. Report
Lifestylewitch, your nutrition tracker does increase your calories when you exercise, to keep you in the right calorie range to lose a bit of weight each week. However, you can change this option by going to your Start Page, then to Account/Email Preferences. I have mine set to stay the same no matter how much exercise I do. It works better for me. I (try to) eat to lose weight, and exercise on top of that to hopefully lose a little extra! For a moderate exerciser like me this works well; however, if you are tended to go all-out with exercise and burn hundreds of calories a day through exercise, then you probably should keep your tracker the way it is.
Hope this helps! Report
FL2Piece, my comment wasn't aimed at you. I see 1200 calories suggested for women all the time, as if it's the norm. If a person is sedentary, and small, that's probably all the calories they need. But I see a lot of comments on here by women who work out everyday and based upon the calorie intake they describe, they're not getting enough macronutrients to fuel their bodies.

Our bodies are highly adaptable, so we can survive on near-starvation calorie intake for quite some time. But it's not optimal.

And I completely respect that every body is different. I'm one of those people that gets really irritated when I read comments telling people that they should never eat an item because of their personal experiences. Life doesn't work that way.

I apologize if I came across as preachy or insulting. That was not my intent. My hope is that people will research, educate themselves, and make well-reasoned decisions. We only get one body and one life; they both need to be handled carefully. Report
!200 was an example used to answer a question. Nice easy numbers. I'm 67 years old, 5'3" and retired. To maintain my overweight status, I would be in the 1500 to 1800 calories per day category. To lose weight I need to stay in the 1200 to 1300 calorie per day range. No need to cringe--everyone is different. Report
I cringe when I read recommended calories as low as 1200 per day. Unless you're very small, that's too little calories to support an active lifestyle.

I'm 5'6", 175 pounds, and I believe a healthy weight for me is about 145 pounds. My BMR is 1500 calories. I have a desk job, but unless I'm doing research or writing, I'm never seated for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. I commute by bike several days a week, and I'm training for triathlon, so I walk or run four or five days a week and I swim a couple days a week. If I followed SparkPeople's recommendations for my calorie intake, I would lose weight very quickly. But I would also lose strength and endurance, and I would be miserable. (Which would mean The Hubs would be miserable, too.)

Food is fuel. Eat enough to fuel your life. Exercise enough to keep yourself strong and healthy. And enjoy your life. If you're always crabby because you feel deprived, is it really worth it? Report