# How much of a calorie deficit do you need to lose 2 lbs a week?

Losing weight comes down to being in a calorie deficit – you need to burn more calories than you consume. To lose 1 pound of fat, you need to have a deficit of 3,500 calories. To lose 2 pounds per week, you need a weekly deficit of 7,000 calories. This means reducing your calorie intake, increasing your calorie burn through exercise, or a combination of both diet and exercise.

## How many calories do you need to cut to lose 2 lbs per week?

To lose 2 pounds per week through diet alone, you need to maintain a daily calorie deficit of 1,000 calories. This is because:

– There are 7 days in a week
– To lose 2 lbs you need a 7,000 calorie deficit for the week
– 7,000 calories / 7 days = 1,000 calorie daily deficit

So to lose 2 lbs per week only through calorie restriction, you need to either:

– Eat 1,000 calories less than your maintenance level each day
– Or eat 500 calories less than your maintenance level, and burn 500 calories through exercise each day

For example, if your maintenance calories are 2,000 per day:

– Eat 1,000 calories per day to have a 1,000 calorie daily deficit
– Or eat 1,500 calories per day and burn 500 calories through exercise to have a 1,000 calorie daily deficit

## How to calculate your calorie needs

To determine how much of a calorie deficit you need, you first need to calculate your maintenance calorie needs. This is the number of calories your body burns just through basic functioning and daily living.

Your maintenance calories are influenced by factors like:

– Age
– Sex
– Height
– Weight
– Activity level

There are a few different ways to estimate your calorie needs:

### Calorie calculator

Use an online calorie calculator to get a quick estimate. You enter details like your age, sex, height, weight and activity level and it will calculate your maintenance calories.

Some popular calorie calculators include:

These calculators provide a good starting point, but your true maintenance calories can vary depending on your unique body and metabolism.

### Harris Benedict Equation

The Harris Benedict Equation is one of the most well-known and researched ways to estimate your calorie needs:

For men:
Maintenance Calories = 66.47 + (13.75 x weight in kg) + (5.003 x height in cm) – (6.755 x age in years)

For women:
Maintenance Calories = 655.1 + (9.563 x weight in kg) + (1.850 x height in cm) – (4.676 x age in years)

Then multiply your result by an activity factor:
– Sedentary (little exercise): x 1.2
– Light exercise: x 1.375
– Moderate exercise: x 1.55
– Heavy exercise: x 1.725
– Athlete: x 1.9

So for example, a 30 year old man who is 180 cm tall, weighs 80kg and exercises moderately would calculate his calories like:

66.47 + (13.75 x 80) + (5.003 x 180) – (6.755 x 30) = 1797.96

1797.96 x 1.55 (activity factor) = 2,788 calories per day

For the most accurate approach, track your calorie intake and weight over time to see how your weight responds:

– Track your calories consumed each day
– Track your weight under consistent conditions (e.g. first thing in morning)
– After 2 weeks, adjust your calorie intake up or down by 100-200 calories if needed

This personalized approach factors in your unique metabolism versus generic formulas.

## Creating a 1000 calorie daily deficit

Once you know your maintenance calories, you can create a 1000 calorie deficit through some combination of:

– Eating less
– Exercising more

Here are some examples of how to achieve a 1000 calorie deficit:

### Diet only

If your maintenance is 2000 calories per day:

– Eat 1000 calories per day

This severe restriction is very difficult to maintain over time, so including exercise is recommended.

### Mostly through diet

If your maintenance is 2000 calories per day:

– Eat 1200 calories per day
– Burn 300 calories per day through exercise

This achieves a 900 calorie deficit through diet and 100 calorie deficit through exercise.

### Equal diet and exercise

If your maintenance is 2000 calories per day:

– Eat 1500 calories per day
– Burn 500 calories per day through exercise

This creates a 500 calorie deficit from diet and 500 calorie deficit from exercise.

### Mostly through exercise

If your maintenance is 2000 calories per day:

– Eat 1700 calories per day
– Burn 700 calories per day through exercise

This achieves a 300 calorie deficit through diet and 700 calorie deficit through exercise.

## Is a 1000 calorie deficit safe?

Creating a 1000 calorie daily deficit through diet, exercise or both is considered safe for most people for short term weight loss. However, there are some factors to keep in mind:

– Women should not eat below 1200 calories per day and men no less than 1500 calories per day. Eating too little can cause nutritional deficits.
– Rapid weight loss of more than 3 lbs per week can increase risk of gallstones, malnutrition and lean mass loss.
– Very low calorie diets should be medically supervised. Consult your doctor before attempting an extreme calorie deficit.
– Pay attention to your energy levels, mood and other signs your calorie deficit is too aggressive. Increase calories if needed.
– Include resistance training to help preserve muscle mass when in a large calorie deficit.

## How to create a 1000 calorie deficit

Here are some tips for reaching a 1000 calorie deficit safely and sustainably:

– Eliminate liquid calories like juice, pop, alcohol, flavored coffees, etc
– Cut back on added sugars, fats, dressings, condiments and processed foods
– Increase fruits, vegetables and lean proteins to feel full on fewer calories
– Measure portions with measuring cups and food scale for accuracy
– Track your intake in a food journal app

– Aim for 150-300 minutes of moderate exercise like brisk walking per week
– Try higher intensity exercise like jogging, swimming, biking, intervals, etc for 20-40 minutes 3-5 days per week
– Add resistance training 2-3 days per week to preserve muscle
– Take extra steps throughout your day with parking farther, taking the stairs, pacing while on the phone, etc

### Make behavioral lifestyle changes

– Eat from smaller plates and bowls
– Slow down eating and chew thoroughly
– Stop eating once you feel satisfied vs overly full
– Create structured meal and snack plans
– Limit distractions like TV, phones, computers while eating
– Get enough sleep (7-9 hours per night)

## Sample meal plan for 1000 calorie deficit

Here is a sample meal plan to create a 1000 calorie per day deficit:

Meal Foods Calories
Breakfast 1 cup egg whites, 1 cup spinach, 1⁄2 grapefruit 150
Snack 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese with 1⁄2 cup blueberries 180
Lunch 4 oz grilled chicken breast, 1.5 cups roasted vegetables, 2 cups salad greens with 1 Tbsp dressing 360
Snack Part skim mozzarella cheese stick, 10 whole almonds 110
Dinner 4 oz salmon, 1 cup quinoa, 1 cup steamed broccoli 450
Total 1250

For someone with a maintenance level of 2250 calories, this meal plan creates a 1000 calorie daily deficit.

This sample gives a sense of appropriate portion sizes and calorie density for meals and snacks to reach a 1000 calorie deficit through diet alone. Exercise would allow for slightly higher calorie intake.

## The bottom line

To summarize, to lose 2 pounds per week you need to maintain a daily calorie deficit of 1000 calories through diet, exercise or both. Determine your maintenance level, then reduce calories and increase activity to safely reach this aggressive deficit. Track your intake and weight, adjusting as needed, and focus on unsaturated fats, high fiber carbs and lean proteins to stay satisfied. Be patient through plateaus and stay consistent with your calorie target and exercise routine. Consult your doctor before attempting an extreme deficit.