How many calories should I subtract from TDEE to lose weight?

Discover how to determine the right caloric deficit tailored to your goals.

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When considering how many calories to subtract from total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) to lose weight, factors to consider include gender, age, health, activity levels, metabolism and weight loss goals, as well as how comfortable or aggressive you want your calorie deficit to be.

Using guidelines set by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and guidelines generally followed by nutritionists and dietitians:

A Recommended Calorie Deficit for Most People is:

500 Calories

Where does the 500 calorie deficit come from?

1 pound (0.45kg) of body weight is estimated to be roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories. To lose 1 pound in a week, you would need to create a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories over that week. This equates to a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories if the deficit is spread evenly over 7 days (3,500 ÷ 7 = 500). Health experts commonly recommend this rate of weight loss at 1 pound per week, as it is considered a safe and sustainable pace. 1

Another Popular Calorie Deficit Amount is:

1000 Calories

Where does 1000 calories come from?

If losing 1 pound of body weight is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories, we could apply the same logic, to lose 2 pounds a week. So 3,500 calorie deficit would become 7000 calories (3,500 x 2 = 7,000), losing 2 pounds a week in body weight.

Consider consulting with your physician or healthcare provider before making changes to your diet.

Things to Consider When Finding the Amount you Should Subtract

Lose weight safely:

Most official weight loss recommendations and health experts recommend losing no more than 1 – 2 pounds (0.45 kg – 0.9 kg) a week. Losing weight at a faster rate can stress your body and potentially lead to nutrient deficiencies. Rapid weight loss also can result in weight loss that is difficult to maintain.

Instead of having a fixed amount of calories to subtract, you could try minimum calorie intake.

Minimum calorie intake:

Some people find eating the minimum calories for their gender to be beneficial when losing weight. Women should generally consume no less than 1,200 – 1,500 calories per day, and men should consume at least 1,500-1,800 calories per day. Keeping within your minimum recommended calories can help protect against nutrient decencies and muscle loss.

Having a fixed minimum amount of calories is not recommend for highly active people.

Activity level:

Having a high activity level and also trying to lose weight can impair your recovery and performance. It’s essential to determine your maintenance calories or TDEE. You can do this by using an online TDEE calculator and consuming the recommended calories to see if your weight increases or decreases. Continue fine-tuning until your weight stabilizes, this is your maintenance calories. You would then subtract either 500 to 1000 calories to reach a safe and recommended calorie deficit.


Losing weight steadily increases the chances of maintaining that loss and reduces stress on your heart and body. It’s advisable to modify your diet separately from increasing your activity levels or incorporating exercise. When on a weight loss journey, it’s best to make one adjustment at a time and at a gradual pace.

Consider you own factors:

Each person’s body is unique, especially when it comes to weight loss. What works for one might not work for another. Your calorie deficit might need to be larger or smaller. Some people’s metabolisms can slow significantly when reducing calorie intake, a big reason to not compare your weight loss journey to others.

Shift your mindset:

If you are just starting out or have been trying to lose weight for a while now, try shifting your perspective on weight loss and view weight loss as a simple task, and both your mind and body will be inclined to achieve it.

A positive mindset can be beneficial in achieving many different goals and weight loss is no different. Having a positive mindset and believing weight loss is easy will not guarantee weight loss on its own, but it can be a supportive element in your journey.


It depends on the amount of weight and the timeframe you have to lose weight at a safe rate. You could do a fixed calorie deficit or have a fixed daily amount you are comfortable with.

How much should I subtract from TDEE to lose weight?

To lose approximately 1 pound a week, it’s advised to reduce your calorie intake by about 500 calories daily.

How much should I subtract from TDEE to lose weight?

To lose approximately 2 pounds a week, it’s advised to reduce your calorie intake by about 1000 calories daily.

Fixed amount of calories:

Women should generally consume no less than 1,200 – 1,500 calories per day.

Men should consume at least 1,500 – 1,800 calories per day.

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