Learn the meaning of calorie deficit for weight loss and how MyNetDiary's Daily Analysis can help along the way

  • 3 Minutes Read
Sue Heikkinen
Sue Heikkinen, MS, RDN, CDCES, BC-ADM, ACE-PT - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist Educator

For weight loss, achieving a calorie deficit is a good thing. Let us explain the meaning of calorie deficit and how MyNetDiary supports your efforts with helpful daily analysis.

Meaning of calorie deficit

The meaning of calorie deficit

A deficit is a shortfall, which is not so good for a bank account, but a big win for a successful weight-loss plan. A calorie deficit means you burn more calories than you consume, leading to weight loss. You can create a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than you need (weight maintenance calories), burning more calories with activity, or combining the two.

It all starts with weight maintenance calories

Weight maintenance calories are the daily calories you need to maintain your current body weight. They include the calories you need for essential body functions and your baseline activity level. MyNetDiary uses the Institute of Medicine equations, considered the most reliable and accurate way to measure weight maintenance calories.

Required calorie deficit

A calorie deficit, meaning you have consumed fewer calories than your weight maintenance calories, will lead to weight loss over time.

Required daily calorie deficit is the number of calories you need to be under your weight maintenance calories to achieve the rate of weight loss rate you've set for yourself in My Weight Plan by your target date.

The required calorie deficit is calculated based on the number of pounds left to lose and the number of days left until your target date. A pound of weight loss requires about a 3,500 calorie deficit. MyNetDiary's programming allows up to two pounds of weight loss per week as a safe rate of weight loss.

Example: A plan to lose 5 pounds in 10 weeks (70 days) requires a 17,500 total calorie deficit (5 lbs x 3,500 calories per pound). Divide 17,500 calories by 70 days to result in a required daily calorie deficit of 250 calories.

Your required calorie deficit may change throughout your plan. For example, suppose you have not lost any weight 5 weeks into your schedule to reach goal weight by 10 weeks. In that case, you will now have a more significant required calorie deficit to "catch up" and meet this goal by 10 weeks.

Daily food calorie budget

MyNetDiary estimates the daily calorie deficit needed to achieve your goal and subtracts that from your Weight Maintenance Calories to calculate what shows on Daily Food Calorie Budget. If you entered an exercise plan, this value includes planned average daily exercise calories.

Daily Food Calorie Budget provides you with a calorie goal for a specific day. Your plan could be a stable short-term goal, or you may set up calorie cycling to vary by day of the week. You can also increase it by adding calories from daily exercise logged.

Putting it all together

MyNetDiary's Actual Daily Calorie Deficit is the difference between your current weight maintenance calories (plus any exercise calories recorded) and calories you consumed that day.

Your Dashboard will display "green" when you have met your daily food calorie budget, shown below:

"On target":

"Calorie surplus"

You consumed more calories than your weight maintenance needs. Over time, a calorie surplus leads to weight gain.

"Slower loss"

You have created a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories than your maintenance needs, but more than your required calorie deficit. This means you are on track to lose weight, but not at the rate you set in My Weight Plan.

Why does Daily Analysis show "Slower loss" when my daily calorie intake on my Dashboard is in the "green?"

Daily Analysis tells you about progress regarding the target date you've set for yourself, regardless of whether you met your daily calorie budget. Although it can appear confusing at first, there are a few reasons Daily Analysis may display "slower loss," even if you meet your daily food calorie budget and stay in the "green."

You haven't updated your weight

Your weight maintenance calories and weight stay the same when weight isn't updated. The screen will show Required Daily Calorie Deficit increases as days toward your target date decrease. Although you may be in the "green" on the Dashboard, meeting the daily food calorie budget, you may eventually see Daily Analysis showing "slower loss."

You haven't lost as much weight as planned

Suppose you aren't losing weight at the rate you set for yourself. As in the above case, as you get closer to your target date, your required daily calorie deficit will be larger because you have fewer days to reach the goal.

If you are comfortable with your progress, but "slower loss" appears on Daily Analysis, consider updating My Plan with a slower weight-loss rate while keeping the same goal on Daily Food Calorie Budget.

Tip: Update your plan regularly, or use our AutoPilot feature to allow MyNetDiary to adjust your plan along the way. Whenever you log a new weight, AutoPilot updates your plan and sets your calorie budget to the difference between weight maintenance calories and required daily calorie deficit. This adjustment helps you meet your weight-loss goal by your target date.

A note about weight-loss calculations

Weight-loss calculations are not foolproof. You may lose slower or gain more slowly than the daily calorie food budget equations predict. Despite these limitations, tracking is a proven weight-loss tool. Don't give up!

What if you have a goal for weight gain or weight maintenance?

The same concepts apply, but in reverse, for a weight-gain goal. You will strive to achieve a calorie surplus rather than a calorie deficit. If weight maintenance is your goal, you will aim to consume what shows on Weight Maintenance Calories.

Perhaps this mini-anthology on the meaning of calorie deficit as it applies to MyNetDiary's features will help you understand what happens in the background to help you achieve your healthiest lifestyle.

For more information, read this article:

Planning weight & calories

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Jan 19, 2022

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