What is a Calorie Deficit?

Feb 28, 2022

When it comes to weight loss, you may have heard the term ‘calorie deficit’ being thrown around.

So what exactly does it mean, how does it assist with weight loss?

We’ll explain everything you need to know.

Calorie deficit explained

According to Equalution dietitian, Caillin, weight loss can only occur when there is a negative energy balance between calories in versus calories out – that is, you should be burning more calories than consumed.

This negative energy balance is more commonly known as, you guessed it, a calorie deficit.

“The body burns stored energy (fat) to function during this imbalance, and weight loss occurs,” Caillin explains.



How to know if you’re in a deficit

“The clearest sign of a calorie deficit is body composition changes,” says Caillin.

“The best way to know you’re in a calorie deficit is to determine your baseline and track calorie consumption and expenditure. A calorie deficit has been reached when calories are reduced below baseline and weight is lost.”

If weight loss is one of your health goals, our Equalution coaches can help you better understand a calorie deficit and take the guesswork out for you, making sure you’re consuming the right amount of both calories and macronutrients for your needs.

Read more about our personalised nutrition programs here.

    Coming out of a deficit

    As weight changes, a person’s daily calorie requirement to maintain this weight changes, too. So essentially, once you want to stop losing weight and start maintaining it – or maybe you’d like to gain some weight and/or muscle – your calorie intake needs to reflect this.

    “Recalculating the appropriate number of maintenance calories is essential to maintaining progress and healthy eating patterns,” says Caillin.

    “There are also different techniques, such as a reverse diet, which is a way to raise your metabolic rate (calorie burn) while minimising fat gain through a controlled surplus (eating more).”

    These are all things that, again, your Equalution coach can help you with on your transformation journey.


    Calorie deficit no-no’s

    Firstly, it is important you do not try and put yourself into a deficit without speaking to a health professional first.

    Some other points from Caillin include:

        • It’s important not to become discouraged if the results you’re seeking don’t happen instantly. Progress takes time, so try to be patient.   

        • Eliminating entire food groups isn’t necessary for results, this is common to fad dieting and can increase the risk of nutritional deficiency. 

        • When comparing progress to others, it is important to remember that we each have different genetics and circumstances which affect our progress. 

        • Choosing an aggressive dieting approach though too much of a deficit can be unsustainable and doesn’t build lasting habits to maintain weight loss in the long term.