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What is a calorie deficit?

Updated: Dec 27, 2022

Calorie is the most common unit to measure the energy that food provides and the one that you burn when your body does any work.

You intake calories when you consume food. Calories are provided by macronutrients and micronutrients consumed in the diet. Each nutrient source provides a specific number of calories.

Technically, it is written as kilocalorie and is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° C at a pressure of 1 atmosphere. Bet you remember some of this from your high school science.




4 kcal


4 kcal


9 kcal

Stored Fat from Carbohydrate Source (Adipose Tissue)

3.27 kcal


7 kcal

Energy Intake

Total calorie intake in a 24-hour period is used to measure your energy intake for the day. You can calculate your energy intake by recording your food consumption over a day using food tracking apps like MyFitnessPal and Cronometer.

Energy Expenditure

Energy expenditure is measured in many different ways. It is a total sum of four main processes in the body: Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR), Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), Physical Activity (TEA) and Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT).

BMR is the energy your body requires to support basic body functions like cardiac function and respiration, repair internal organs, and maintain body temperature. It makes up about two-thirds of the body’s total energy expenditure.

BMR is dependent on your body size and gender. There are many accurate formulas to closely estimate the overall BMR for an individual.

TEF is calculated as the energy consumed when the body digests carbohydrate, fat, and protein. It varies based on the macronutrient. For example, protein and carbohydrates have a higher thermic effect during digestion and absorption than fats.

Physical activity(TEA) is directly related your body size, physical conditioning, and the amount of movement performed. This comes from the physical exercises you do in a day and can be the major contributor to you burning more calories.

NEAT is the energy expended during non-exercise activity throughout the day. This is why moving throughout the day is important. It is recommended to reach a daily step count of 8000 to 10000.

So your Total Daily Energy Expenditure is calculated as


What is a calorie deficit?

You are in a calorie deficit when your energy expenditure is higher than your energy intake.

If you consume more calories than you burn, over a period of time you will gain weight and if you consume less calories than you burn, over a period of time you will lose weight.

If your energy intake matches your energy expenditure, then you will maintain your current weight.

How do your measure your overall energy expenditure?

Head over to our BMR and TDEE tool to calculate your overall energy expenditure.

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