Calorie deficit

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I understand the key to weight loss is calorie deficit, and for 1 pound per week it's a 500 calorie deficit per day. I keep reading about people who achieve their calorie deficit without exercise. Does this mean their BMR is high enough that they can safely subtract 500? E.g. Bmr= 1800 - 500, and they can eat 1300 without exercising to lose 1/week? My BMR without movement is 1350, TDEE estimated 1650 on lightly active days. I can't eat 850 calories (1 lb/week), so I have to go more slowly if using food alone right? I intend to exercise, but I can't imagine how people can make a big enough deficit without exercise. Am I thinking through this wrong? Does the "food alone" approach only work for someone with a much higher BMR? Thanks!

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  • T0M_K
    T0M_K Posts: 7,526 Member
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    I understand the key to weight loss is calorie deficit, and for 1 pound per week it's a 500 calorie deficit per day. I keep reading about people who achieve their calorie deficit without exercise. Does this mean their BMR is high enough that they can safely subtract 500? E.g. Bmr= 1800 - 500, and they can eat 1300 without exercising to lose 1/week? My BMR without movement is 1350, TDEE estimated 1650 on lightly active days. I can't eat 850 calories (1 lb/week), so I have to go more slowly if using food alone right? I intend to exercise, but I can't imagine how people can make a big enough deficit without exercise. Am I thinking through this wrong? Does the "food alone" approach only work for someone with a much higher BMR? Thanks!

    your deficit is from your TDEE not your BMR.
  • ryry_
    ryry_ Posts: 4,966 Member
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    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?
  • malibu927
    malibu927 Posts: 17,564 Member
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    You go from TDEE, not BMR. Without knowing your stats, it sounds like even a 500-calorie deficit (which would be 30% off your TDEE) would be too aggressive anyway.
  • MommyL2015
    MommyL2015 Posts: 1,411 Member
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    My TDEE is 1350. I don't eat below 1200 and I lose weight very slowly. I incorporate as much movement as I can in my day, usually in the form of my treadmill. I have a very sedentary job,sitting and typing all day, sometimes as much as 12 hours or more. I am also older and short. The food alone approach does work with me, but I either have to settle for very, very slow loss, which I am happy to do, or eat less, which I will not do. I love food too much to eat less and most days I just walk to eat more. I need the t-shirt that says "I run for cupcakes" because, really, that's my biggest motivation for getting off my rear end and walking.
  • melissafawnw
    melissafawnw Posts: 67 Member
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    ryry62685 wrote: »
    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?

    I know that realistically, but my activity level changes from day to day because I have two completely different jobs, on different days. I estimate before exercise I am "lightly active" even though every day might not be the case and this puts me at a a TDEE of 1650, which still puts me at 1150. I guess what I'm asking is, for "smaller" people, is the food only approach unrealistic unless you want to go very slowly?

  • sijomial
    sijomial Posts: 19,809 Member
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    Any deficit from your TDEE is "big enough" (*) - it will just take different lengths of time.
    (* = assuming no medical imperative to lose quickly)

    If you intend using the TDEE minus a percentage approach do not set your calorie goal using MyFitnessPal - use a TDEE calculator instead.

  • T0M_K
    T0M_K Posts: 7,526 Member
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    ryry62685 wrote: »
    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?

    I know that realistically, but my activity level changes from day to day because I have two completely different jobs, on different days. I estimate before exercise I am "lightly active" even though every day might not be the case and this puts me at a a TDEE of 1650, which still puts me at 1150. I guess what I'm asking is, for "smaller" people, is the food only approach unrealistic unless you want to go very slowly?

    you can certainly use your exercise to help create your calorie deficit. Just only eat back like 50% of your calorie burn to ensure you're not overeating. lots of people eat back some % of calorie burn. PLUS when you have a smaller amount to lose, you simply must tighten up on your logging and calorie burn because errors can cause you to be over your goal much more easily.
  • kimny72
    kimny72 Posts: 16,012 Member
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    If you are already relatively small, set your goal to half a lb per week. That way on days you don't exercise you can still eat a reasonable amount of food. On days you do work out, your deficit will be a bit bigger and maybe get you closer to one lb per week. I lost my last 10 lbs at a pace of around one lb per month because I'm short and just don't have the wiggle room in my calories. It was slow, but painless :)
  • melissafawnw
    melissafawnw Posts: 67 Member
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    kimny72 wrote: »
    If you are already relatively small, set your goal to half a lb per week. That way on days you don't exercise you can still eat a reasonable amount of food. On days you do work out, your deficit will be a bit bigger and maybe get you closer to one lb per week. I lost my last 10 lbs at a pace of around one lb per month because I'm short and just don't have the wiggle room in my calories. It was slow, but painless :)

    Thank you! That's what I've been concluding. I have about 22 to lose, and I suspect I will take about 9 months+ because half of it will be so slow! I can't not eat!
  • ryry_
    ryry_ Posts: 4,966 Member
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    ryry62685 wrote: »
    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?

    I know that realistically, but my activity level changes from day to day because I have two completely different jobs, on different days. I estimate before exercise I am "lightly active" even though every day might not be the case and this puts me at a a TDEE of 1650, which still puts me at 1150. I guess what I'm asking is, for "smaller" people, is the food only approach unrealistic unless you want to go very slowly?

    Yes. If you don't exercise then it might not be realistic for you.

    1 lb per week for you at lightly active is over a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie allowance. That can be difficult.

    For me being taller and weighing more 1 lb per week is only about a 16% reduction which is going to be much more manageable.

    From your profile you seem pretty close to goal already correct? If that is the case then it is going to be best to take it slower, maybe 1400 and aim for a 1/2 lb per week.
  • melissafawnw
    melissafawnw Posts: 67 Member
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    ryry62685 wrote: »
    ryry62685 wrote: »
    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?

    I know that realistically, but my activity level changes from day to day because I have two completely different jobs, on different days. I estimate before exercise I am "lightly active" even though every day might not be the case and this puts me at a a TDEE of 1650, which still puts me at 1150. I guess what I'm asking is, for "smaller" people, is the food only approach unrealistic unless you want to go very slowly?

    Yes. If you don't exercise then it might not be realistic for you.

    1 lb per week for you at lightly active is over a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie allowance. That can be difficult.

    For me being taller and weighing more 1 lb per week is only about a 16% reduction which is going to be much more manageable.

    From your profile you seem pretty close to goal already correct? If that is the case then it is going to be best to take it slower, maybe 1400 and aim for a 1/2 lb per week.


    Thanks for your advice! I haven't updated my profile much, but my goal is to get back to about the fitness level of that picture :) I have suffered from chronic pain since then and it's hard to rely on exercise because I have some high pain days.
  • ryry_
    ryry_ Posts: 4,966 Member
    edited April 2016
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    ryry62685 wrote: »
    ryry62685 wrote: »
    Your deficit is calculated off of your TDEE figure not BMR.

    Are you using this site to get your calorie goal or another site?

    I know that realistically, but my activity level changes from day to day because I have two completely different jobs, on different days. I estimate before exercise I am "lightly active" even though every day might not be the case and this puts me at a a TDEE of 1650, which still puts me at 1150. I guess what I'm asking is, for "smaller" people, is the food only approach unrealistic unless you want to go very slowly?

    Yes. If you don't exercise then it might not be realistic for you.

    1 lb per week for you at lightly active is over a 30 percent reduction in daily calorie allowance. That can be difficult.

    For me being taller and weighing more 1 lb per week is only about a 16% reduction which is going to be much more manageable.

    From your profile you seem pretty close to goal already correct? If that is the case then it is going to be best to take it slower, maybe 1400 and aim for a 1/2 lb per week.


    Thanks for your advice! I haven't updated my profile much, but my goal is to get back to about the fitness level of that picture :) I have suffered from chronic pain since then and it's hard to rely on exercise because I have some high pain days.

    You are welcome. Quick question.

    What site did you use that gave you the 1650 figure for lightly active?