What Does a Calorie Deficit Feel Like? (Answered)


Are you planning to lose weight with a new calorie deficit? What can you expect? What does a calorie deficit feel like?

A calorie deficit that is healthy does not actually feel like anything. You likely will not even know you are in a calorie deficit. However, slight hunger is normal in the beginning.

Let’s talk some more about this.

What Does a Calorie Deficit Feel Like?

A calorie deficit in itself does not feel like anything. This is because a calorie deficit is simply an energy imbalance created by you as a means to burn body fat.

The results that are seen with a calorie deficit to lose body fat are achieved by the body doing what it does best naturally, adapting to change.

When you consume fewer calories than you burn as part of your basal metabolic rate, your body must make up the difference by using stored energy from fat or muscle.

But all calorie deficit plans are not created equal. A calorie deficit must be done in a way that is smart, doable, sustainable, and healthy.

Preferably, you want your body to use energy from stored fat, NOT muscle.

However, if you do not take the proper precautions such as getting an ample amount of protein and consuming enough calories to conserve muscle, muscle loss can occur along with other negative side effects of severe calorie restriction.

You do not want these side effects to happen.

A calorie deficit that is too strict and restrictive can cause undesired symptoms such as:

  • Brain Fog
  • Difficulty Focusing
  • Lack of Energy
  • Feeling Hangry (Angry + Hungry)
  • Headaches

If you create a calorie deficit that is healthy and sustainable by aiming for a deficit of 200-500 calorie deficit per day, you will likely not experience any of the above negative symptoms.

Related Post: How to Make a Calorie Deficit Easy (15 Tips)

You may feel slight hunger in the beginning as your body adjusts to consuming fewer calories. However, this should not be severe hunger that feels out of control every second of every day.

Does a Calorie Deficit Make You Hungry?

A calorie deficit does have the ability to cause hunger, especially when first beginning.

This is because when you first start dieting and consuming fewer calories, your body is not used to this new way of eating.

Your body is used to running on the energy (calories) that you have been giving it, so when you all of the sudden drop your calorie intake, your body is not yet adjusted to this.

This may be a controversial subject, but a slight amount of hunger when first starting a deficit is COMPLETELY NORMAL.

Think about it, why are people overweight? It is due to the fact that they are consuming an excess amount of calories than they burn each day, putting them in a calorie surplus.

You are going to feel a little bit hungry when you start a calorie deficit because it is a complete change to your lifestyle. It is completely new. Any adjustment you make to your everyday routine will take time to get used to.

Also, it is something that is always on your mind. When you begin to track calories, you will begin to think about food more because you have to at first. If you didn’t, then how would you be aware of the calories you are consuming?

It is easy to become preoccupied with calorie counting and food, because you are now thinking about it all of the time. But there is something you can do.

Use Your Mind to Control Hunger

Your mind is an incredible tool. You can use it to control your hunger when starting a calorie deficit.

If you find yourself getting too hungry, tell yourself “I am in control and I can handle this.”

Remind yourself why you are doing this and that the hunger is only temporary as your body adjusts.

Focus on other things such as work, school, a hobby, or socializing with friends.

Do not let hunger control you, make it known that YOU ARE IN CONTROL.

If you find yourself getting ravenously hungry, try to take a break and have a small low calorie snack. This will help to tide you over until your next meal.

Another easy tip? Take a walk. If you find yourself thinking about your calorie deficit and food too much, you need to redirect. Take a walk.

I guarantee that once you take a walk or do something else productive, you will no longer be thinking about food and the feelings of hunger you felt before will go away.

Mental redirection is powerful and if you can master it, it will get you far in your weight loss journey.

Does a Calorie Deficit Make You Sick?

A healthy calorie deficit will NOT make you sick. Quite the contrary has actually been discovered, a calorie deficit can actually help PREVENT you from becoming sick.

In a study, it has been shown that calorie restriction can include benefits such as improved metabolism, longer life span, and delayed onset of age associated diseases such as diabetes.

But, extreme caloric restriction (a 40% reduction in calories) is associated with impaired immune function, which can lead to more severe infections. 

This is why a calorie deficit must be done in a healthy and sustainable way. A healthy calorie deficit should not consist of a drop of less than 500 calories from your maintenance level.

A calorie deficit greater than 500 calories per day is not necessary.

A healthy calorie deficit will not give you the flu, a cold, or any other type of sickness. A calorie deficit is not the cause of a viral or bacterial illness.

The only time a calorie deficit could potentially make you sick is if the deficit is so severe that it begins to impact your immune system function.

This is why a healthy and sustainable calorie deficit is of utmost importance. By not consuming enough calories, you are more susceptible to getting sick because your immune system will not be as strong and ready to fight.

A severe calorie deficit can also lead to other issues such as:

  • Anemia
  • Hair loss
  • Osteoporosis
  • Malnutrition
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Menstrual irregularities

This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but this is why it is important to make sure that you are in a healthy calorie deficit when trying to lose weight.

You also want to make sure your protein intake is on point. Aiming for 0.8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of your desired bodyweight is a good goal to try to get to. Protein is essential not only for muscle mass, but also for many other bodily functions.

If you are unsure of how many calories you should be eating, I recommend checking out the article below as it contains all of the information you will need to create a calorie deficit that is easy and sustainable all while eating your favorite foods.

Related Post: Eat Whatever You Want in a Calorie Deficit

Last Words

What does a calorie deficit feel like? To put it simply, it feels like nothing.

A healthy calorie deficit does not result in any symptoms you will feel. You will not feel weak, tired, or sick if your deficit range is done properly.

You should not experience any type of negative side effect because you are in a calorie deficit. If you do experience negative side effects, you need to take a step back and re-evaluate what you are doing. A simple fix is to increase calories consumed.

A calorie deficit is the only thing that will cause you to lose body fat and get healthy. There is no other way to accomplish weight loss. Just make sure your calorie deficit is healthy, doable, and sustainable.

Related Post: Is a Calorie Deficit Hard?