You know you need to calculate BMR or TDEE to figure out your calorie deficit, but how do you create a calorie deficit when your TDEE is low?
You might be concerned because your TDEE is lower than others and staying in a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day seems too low. Why is this? Should you still utilize a calorie deficit to lose weight when you have a naturally low TDEE or BMR?
If you have a lower TDEE or BMR than most individuals, you must go against what everyone else does and make your own custom calorie deficit amount that is safe, less aggressive, and still effective.
Stay tuned and I will answer all of these questions for you.
Let’s get into it.
How Do You Create a Calorie Deficit When Your TDEE is Low?
If you have a lower TDEE than most individuals, it is important to customize your calorie deficit to your own body. For example, eat in a very small deficit of 100-200 calories or even as low as 50 calories to try and avoid consuming less than 1200 calories per day.
For anyone who has a TDEE lower than 1700 calories, it is not a great idea to maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day.
Can you maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day when you have a TDEE below 1700 calories per day? Sure. But is it going to be likely harder for you to maintain it? Yes.
When you create a caloric deficit that is super strict to the point of consuming less than 1200 calories per day, you are likely going to feel pretty deprived and that you are not getting enough intake in and will never feel satisfied.
Losing weight should not make you feel like you are constantly starving.
It is important to find a balance with your calorie deficit and not make it too aggressive.
A less strict calorie deficit is more sustainable in the long term and will help you lose weight in a slower, but still effective manner.
Why is My TDEE so Low?
Your TDEE is likely lower because of your overall build and gender. People who are taller or have more mass overall and tend to have higher TDEEs. Additionally, your overall weight can affect your TDEE.
Heavier people generally have higher energy needs than those who are lighter so they will have a higher maintenance calorie amount.
For example, shorter women will likely have a lower TDEE in most cases.
Let’s look at an example.
For a sedentary woman who is 30 years old and is 5’0 and weighs 150 pounds, she would be “considered” obese according to the BMI scale. She may feel she wants to lose some weight.
When calculating a TDEE range for her, we see her calculated TDEE comes out to be around 1,586 calories.
Would it be smart for this woman to create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day? No.
This would mean she would be consuming around 1,086 calories per day. She would likely feel pretty deprived during this time.
It would be a better idea for her to create less of an aggressive of a calorie deficit of maybe 200-300 calories, and she will STILL lose weight.
What is the Difference Between BMR and TDEE?
Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories required every single day by the body just to maintain vital functions such as your heartbeat, breathing, and cell repair.
Yes, just existing burns calories. Digesting food also burns calories in itself. Thermic effect of food (TEF) is the number of calories burned when you are digesting a meal and actually consists of about 10% of your calories burned.
TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is the number of calories required every day by the body for all of its functions, including physical activity.
In other words, your TDEE is your BMR plus the amount of calories you burn through movement and exercise.
This is why it is easier just to calculate your TDEE rather than BMR because TDEE includes exercise into the equation.
However, if you are a person who is relying on diet alone to lose weight in a calorie deficit and who does zero exercise or physical activity, BMR may be a better choice for you to calculate.
However, you must remember that even walking is considered physical activity so while you think you perform absolutely zero physical activity, you may be incorrect.
Easy Way to Calculate TDEE or BMR
In order to find an actual range that is accurate for BMR or TDEE, you can use an online calculator, but it may require a bit of trial and error until you find that sweet spot.
There is also a formula you can use to figure out an estimation of your BMR without using a calculator. Most calculators use a variety of formulas but you can calculate your amount on your own if you choose.
One popular way to estimate BMR is using the Harris-Benedict formula, which takes into account weight, height, age, and gender.
BMR = 655 + (9.6 × weight in kg) + (1.8 × height in cm) – (4.7 × age in years)
BMR = 66 + (13.7 × weight in kg) + (5 × height in cm) – (6.8 × age in years)
Remember, these numbers are only estimates so they must be used as a guide. Your BMR and TDEE can actually fluctuate day to day.
For example, if an online calculator or formula gives you a TDEE or even a BMR calorie amount of 2000 calories, and you try consuming this amount and start seeing you are gaining weight, this may be a little bit too high for you.
This is why in order to find your actual calorie range for your TDEE or BMR, it is important to trial it for a week or so to see how your body responds to this number of calories as intake, THEN you can start to create your deficit.
Once you figure out your own personalized maintenance calorie amount, you are golden.
Losing weight over time is always a bit of trial and error, but as long as you maintain a calorie deficit over time, you will lose body fat.
How Do I Create a Calorie Deficit with a BMR or TDEE of 1200?
It is not advisable to consume below 1200 calories. Eating slightly below or very close to your basal metabolic rate will still allow your body to create a negative energy balance, which will put you in a calorie deficit, then your body will start to utilize fat for energy and cause weight loss.
With a TDEE of 1200 calories, a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day would actually be dangerous and not advisable.
With this TDEE amount, you should aim for a deficit of 50 calories max. You do not need a large deficit AT ALL to see results over time.
You want to make sure you are consuming adequate amount of calories and nutrients.
You would risk developing malnutrition as well as other health issues if you take your calorie deficit too low with a TDEE of 1200 calories.
One easy solution is to actually try to eat around maintenance calories and see if you start losing weight. If you do not, decrease calories a TINY bit. Do not get drastic. It is not necessary.
How Do I Create a Calorie Deficit with a BMR or TDEE of 1400?
With a TDEE of 1400, you can choose to aim for a calorie deficit of 100-200 calories and still see fat loss results from a caloric deficit.
A deficit of 200 calories may be doable for you and really should be the maximum amount, but you have to make sure you are still consuming enough calories and nutrients for your body to function properly.
By consuming adequate amount of calories, you will be able to shed body fat but still maintain energy needed to do all of your important every day tasks while also getting healthy amounts of vitamins and minerals from food.
You want to make sure you do not go too low with your calorie intake as you are not likely to continue because it will feel exhaustive to you and just not doable.
How Do I Create a Calorie Deficit with a BMR or TDEE of 1600?
With a TDEE of 1600 calories, you can create a calorie deficit consisting of around 400 calories per day maximum, but you do not have to go this high with your deficit, you can still see results with a 200-300 calorie deficit or even lower.
With a less strict calorie deficit, you will still see fat loss, it just may take a little bit more time.
You will know when your calorie intake amount is too low. You will feel hungry all of the time, irritable, and you may have a hard time concentrating. If you experience any of these issues, then you need to up your calorie intake a bit and see how you feel.
It is all about finding what works for you and your body. There is no reason you need to feel deprived when trying to lose body fat in a calorie deficit.
You can still eat the foods you love, you just need to make sure you are accounting for the calories you are putting into your body.
You can also add in some extra cardio or exercise of any kind if you would like to speed up the process a bit and not decrease calorie intake further.
Some people just have a naturally low TDEE or basal metabolic rate than others, and if you do have a low TDEE or BMR, you need to make sure you are not getting too strict with your calorie deficit.
If you can help it, it is not recommended to decrease calorie intake to below 1200 calories per day if you do not have to. You will be able to still lose weight eating right around maintenance calories if your TDEE is naturally low due to your build and gender.
This might take a little bit more time, but it is important to remember that slow and steady wins the race.
Losing weight in a slower fashion will allow you to keep it off and also gain a healthy relationship with food.
Eventually, eating right will just become second nature. Losing body fat does not have to be a miserable experience, trust me.