November 30, 2021

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Weight loss How to Create a Calorie Deficit in 2 Simple Steps

6 min read
If you want to lose weight, it's time to put an end to all the fad diets. Even though these crash weight-loss plans may make you lose weight in the short-term, they can often so by sacrificing your long-term health and well-being, particularly as it relates to a healthy relationship to food.It's time to toss…
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weight loss

If you want to lose weight, it’s time to put an end to all the fad diets. Even though these crash weight-loss plans may make you lose weight in the short-term, they can often so by sacrificing your long-term health and well-being, particularly as it relates to a healthy relationship to food.

It’s time to toss out the tasteless prepackaged meals. It’s time to return to sanity—and the way to do that is to put your grade-school counting abilities to the test.

It’s time to start keeping track of your daily calorie intake.

weight loss is basically accounting, but with the exact opposite goal: You want to end up in the red, burning more calories than you consume. Yes, calories have been knocked around in recent years, but they are still a dependable guide to help you establish a daily intake goal when it comes to healthful food.

To devise the simplest way possible to calculate a calorie deficit, we asked Mike Roussell, Ph.D., author of The Metashred Diet, to give us a budget-busting, weight-loss plan.

The result isn’t anything that’s complicated. weight loss shouldn’t be. Fad diets make losing weight complex because then they alone can provide the antidote. And the, if you find it difficult to stay on the diet—as research shows most people do—then it’s your fault. You failed on the diet, the diet didn’t fail you, and it can go on convincing others of its power. Avoid these mind games by canceling out all that noise.

Make no mistake: Calculating and operating on a calorie deficit isn’t a point system or a micromanagement of your calories. This is an easy calculation designed to help you start dropping pounds in a safe and effective way—without hassle, without stress.

There’s another awesome added benefit to all this, too: There’s no more off-limit food—or food groups—so you don’t have to restrict what you eat even if you may have to cut back on how much of it you enjoy.

(But, really, if you’re being honest with yourself: Does that third slice of pizza ever bring you exponentially more enjoyment than the second?)

And to make things even just a bit easier, Kathryn Schmitz, Ph.D., president of the American College of Sports Medicine, weighs in on the best exercise for when you’re trying to lose weight.

Here’s the best way to determine calorie intake, which is your first step to maintaining a calorie deficit, which is your first step to finally stepping onto the scale and seeing the number you want.

Break out the calculator.

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weight loss Step 1: Figure Out Daily Calorie Intake

“How many calories should I eat a day to lose weight?” you might be wondering. Well, the first best place to start is with how many calories you’re currently eating.

Track everything you eat and drink for three days and tally your daily total at or with an app like Lose It!, MyFitnessPal, or MyPlate. (Don’t worry, this is easier than it sounds.)

Next, estimate the number of calories you need to maintain your weight using the formula below based on your activity level—specifically, how often you work out.

(Note: These following sample calculations are for a 185-pound person.)

weight loss cropped shot of a young man writing on a whiteboard in a classroom


A. Zero workouts

Multiply your weight by 10. (At 185 pounds, that’s 1,850 calories a day.)

B. One or two workouts a week

Your weight x 12 (2,220 calories)

C. Two to four workouts a week

Your weight x 14 (2,590 calories)

D. Five or more workouts a week

Your weight x 16 (2,960 calories)

Now compare those two numbers—the number of calories you currently eat vs. the number of calories you need to eat to maintain your weight. How far off are you? If you’re eating more than your target number, you’ll gain weight; if you eat less, you’ll lose weight.

weight loss Man training biceps in gym

Westend61Getty Images

weight loss Step 2:Determine Daily Calories Burned

If you’re not already in a caloric deficit, aim for a maximum daily deficit of 500 calories when you’re trying to shed some pounds. Aim for a healthy and sustainable 1- to 2-pound weight loss per week. That means either eating fewer calories or burning more calories throughout your day.

So if our 185-pound man works out 2 to 4 days a week, eating 2,590 calories a day maintains his weight. Here’s how his body uses those calories and a few ways he can burn more calories.

weight loss smiling man is so happy with bicycle

Thomas Tolstrup

1. Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR): 60 to 75 percent of daily calories burned

      This is how much energy your body uses just to stay alive. You can get a rough estimate of this number with an online BMR calculator that takes into account your height, weight, gender and age.

      70 percent=1,813 calories

      2. Thermic Effect of Food: 10 percent

      These are the calories burned by digestion. In general, you burn 0 to 3 percent of the calories of fat you eat, 5 to 10 percent for carbohydrates, 20 to 30 percrntfor protein, and 10 to 30 percent for alcohol.

      10 percent=259 calories

      BONUS BURN: Load up on protein! Because you use far more of the calories from protein for digestion than you do with fat or carbs, make sure you reach your target amount of daily protein. That way, you can burn more sans a ton of effort. For adult men, that means at least 56 grams of protein a day. Opt for a lean protein source like chicken or fish.

      ( 100 calories)

      weight loss Young sporty man with earphones running on the bridge outside in a city.

      Halfpoint ImagesGetty Images

      3. Physical Activity: 15 to 30 percent

      These are the calories you expend through your daily activity level, including exercise and any other movement. If you wear a fitness tracker, you can get a pretty good estimate of how many calories you’re burning each day based on steps or heart rate. Or you can enter individual activities and workouts into an online exercise calculator.

      20 percent=518 calories

      weight loss a man doing sport at the seaside

      Halfpoint Images

      BONUS BURN: You don’t have to sweat through two-a-days to get the benefit of moving more Minimize your sitting time, take the stairs, fidget—it all adds up. In fact, our 185-pound man burns 178 calories in 30 minutes just by walking.

      Add some “exercise snacks” to your routine, says Dr. Schmitz—a 20-second intense run up the stairs, followed by 40 seconds of slow walking back down and repeat. Or do burpees for 20 seconds, and then walk around and recover 40 seconds.

      ( 200 to 600 calories)

      Also important: Don’t forget about liquid calories—and we’re not just talking soda here!

      It’s easy to forget about that morning juice or two glasses of wi ne with dinner. That’s why it’s important to keep track of your beverage intake too. Liquids can easily add up and make you consume more calories than you think.

      weight loss dudes drinking beers bro

      Jordan Siemens

      For example, one can of beer contains roughly 153 calories, depending on the brand. Drinking just two adds an additional 300 calories per day, which can be significant if you’re only cutting back by 500 calories daily.

      Plus, studies suggest your body takes in more calories from processed food that’s been broken down from its natural form. So if you have a smoothie, you’ll absorb more calories than if you ate the same fruits in that shake raw. And foods in their whole form tend to be more satiating, which may help you eat less overall.

      Run this calorie deficit long-term, while also focusing on eating a wide and rich diet of nutrient-dense, whole foods and you’ll lose weight, sure, but you’ll also gain so much more.

      health WriterMelissa Matthews is the health Writer at Men’s health, covering the latest in food, nutrition, and health.

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