The world is full of fad diets that promise to magically help you with weight loss. Some diets claim great results in 3 months while few others talk about helping you shed kilos within 30 days! But one thing that you will find common in all of these diets is the focus on calorie deficit. So, what is calorie deficit and how does it help you in losing weight? Is it healthy? What are the do’s and don'ts of calorie deficit? Let us look at everything in detail.

What is calorie deficit?

It is a process when you burn more calories than you consume. In simple words, you use up more of the energy in your body than you consume by eating. The total calories that you burn is called calorie expenditure and it has 3 main components - 

  • Resting energy expenditure (REE) refers to the calories the body uses at rest for functions that are necessary to keep us alive. It includes activities like blood circulation.
  • Thermic effect of food involves the calories our body uses up while digesting, absorbing, and metabolizing the food that we eat.
  • Activity energy expenditure is the calories we use up during exercise and non-exercise related activities. It includes performing household chores, moving or even cooking. 

So, when the calories we expend exceed the calories we consume, we form a calorie deficit that helps us to lose weight by making our body use the stored energy in our body. 

How to follow a calorie deficit based diet properly?

Many times, we believe that to achieve calorie deficit, we just need to reduce the portion and quantity of food that we are consuming. But that is a false assumption. Calorie deficit also depends on how active you are and what kind of diet you are following. Usually, a regular deficit of 500 calories is enough to lose weight, but that depends on the calorie quality that we intake.

Include protein and fibre in your diet | Pexels

What you eat is what you become and eating right is the key to achieving calorie deficit and reap benefits from it. Eat green vegetables like spinach, capsicum and brussels sprouts that are low in calorie content but very filling and keep you satiated for long. You must also consume fresh fruits and nuts at regular intervals as snacking options instead of unhealthy packed food. Try and cook your meals in oils with good fats like olive oil and ghee and use a small quantity only. Eat foods which have protein like soya, lentils, oats, quinoa etc. If you eat non-vegetarian food, increase your intake of eggs, lean meat and seafood. Besides all of this, make sure to drink a lot of water and never let your body feel dehydrated.

What to avoid?

Heavy fried food is a huge no-no. Any food item with a lot of trans fat should ideally be avoided. Another thing to cut off from your diet is liquid calories. Aerated and sugary drinks are easily absorbed by the body but take a ton of time to be burnt, which is detrimental in any weight loss journey. Keep your body full and satiated, but do not overeat. Portion control is important to maintain the progress that you have made.

So, achieving a calorie deficit is definitely not a one-day process. You have to keep at it to see long term benefits because there is no shortcut to keep yourself fit and healthy.