Healthy weight loss depends on a few key factors, the most important of which is a sustainable calorie deficit. To see visible results in your body, you need to be consuming more calories than you are consuming throughout the day, regardless of whether this deficit is due to eating a little less or exercising more to burn more calories .
While everyone’s weight loss calorie intake is different, it is relatively easy to determine your ideal deficit so that you are not depriving yourself of valuable vitamins and nutrients, but also not overeating on a regular basis. We checked in with the registered nutritionist Tara Tomaino and Sarah Williams, MS, RD for learning the facts about a safe and healthy calorie deficit for weight loss and finding the ideal number that works for your body, and that’s what they had to say.
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First of all, it’s important to remember that your ideal calorie intake for the day won’t be the same as someone who weighs exactly the same amount as you. Heavily dependent on the composition of your body and your daily energy expenditure, the easiest starting point is by taking your TDEE or total daily energy expenditure to find out how many calories you burn as a base value during the day.
“Your basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest. “When you add in daily living activities and targeted exercise, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE) continues to increase.” Using a calculator like the NIH Body Weight Planner to determine your TDEE gives you a better idea of how many calories you are getting from should eat there.
Now that you have your TDEE, you can create a reasonable deficit based on that number. Too large a deficit will make your body feel weak and malnourished, but too small a deficit may not produce the results you want. So there is just a fine line to walk in how fast you want to lose weight. Remember, the slower you lose weight, the more likely it will remain, if you’ve done it in a safe and sustainable way.
“A small deficit of 100-200 calories a day is more likely to result in slower weight loss than a more aggressive deficit of 500 calories a day,” says Tomaino. “It can be easier to maintain a smaller calorie deficit for a longer period of time. Also, if you focus on eating high fiber, whole foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole grains and legumes, you will feel full and satisfied while consuming fewer calories. ”You might be tempted to settle for a bigger deficit opt to achieve weight loss faster but it will ultimately be difficult to hold onto and you can fall behind in time as the novelty wears off.
Setting a goal of losing about 0.5 to 2 pounds a week is a healthy rate, according to Williams, and she notes that this can be easily achieved with a daily calorie deficit of 250 to 500. This may be due to making small changes in your diet that save calories, such as: B. Removing sugar from your coffee or replacing white bread with a multigrain option.
Of course, calories aren’t the only factor determining your success in losing weight, and in the meantime, you still need to consume nutrient-rich foods to keep your body energized and build your muscles, increasing your metabolism for burning fat. “I never recommend eating less than 1,300 calories for adults. On average, an adult can successfully lose weight if they consume 1500-2000 calories and exercise regularly (again, it all depends on the person), ”concludes Tomaino.
If you’re not comfortable tracking your food intake, counting calories may not be the best method for weight loss and it can be easier to just focus on preparing meals that prioritize protein, fat, and healthy carbohydrates while reducing your sugar intake . However, creating a 250-500 calorie deficit is the safest, healthiest way to lose weight over time.
By staying aware of your body’s hunger signals and feeding yourself nutritious foods and stopping when you are full, you can promote a healthier relationship with food and allow you to lose weight without sacrificing a disordered mindset about food fall. Counting calories is not for everyone, but it can be a useful tool for weight loss if done correctly.