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How to calculate a calorie deficit for weight loss with a diet based on genetics


Firstly, calorie counting ‘per se’ doesn’t always work as not all calories are created equal. That being said, successful weight does require a calorie deficit so we cannot completely ignore it – understanding how to calculate a calorie deficit is vital to the end game of achieving long term fat loss. A diet based on genetics can be key here to understand your perfect calorie deficit. Let’s take a look at why…

Why is a calorie deficit important for weight loss?

Many a time you can feel completely defeated by food after trying almost every diet out there. The problem isn’t your willpower, it’s maybe your current food intake and the amount of those foods you’re eating.

Before we get into the good stuff we must get to know the foundations first! Energy is used as fuel for all essential functions in the body such as digestion, brain function, and maintaining body temperature. The term ‘calorie’ is a unit used to quantify energy when it comes to the foods and beverages we consume. The energy expended during the involuntary processes is referred to as the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) whereas ‘total’ energy output is the sum of the RMR in addition to the energy burned during physical activity.

It’s often said that if ‘energy in’ is less than ‘energy out’, one should lose weight. Simply put, if you eat less and/or move more you will lose weight… or fat to be precise (if you are doing it correctly). The problem is, RMR can vary substantially between individuals which will massively impact ideal calorie deficits for weight loss.

How to calculate a calorie deficit

The old-school technique for understanding how to calculate a calorie deficit would entail working out your ‘total energy requirements (as above) and subtracting approximately 200-500kcal from this number to be left with your total daily requirements for weight loss.

As I just mentioned above, any nutrigenomic or weight loss specialist will tell you that this basic calculation is not effective in many cases and a diet based on genetics is the most obvious answer as RMR varies greatly between individuals based on differences in muscle mass, body weight, age and you guessed it – genetics!

Why can’t you guess your calorie requirements?

When you ask a group of people how to calculate a calorie deficit for weight loss, people usually shout out that you just need to burn more calories than you are taking in, with estimates of between 1200-1600kcal per day. Now as much as an estimate may go a long way in some cases, estimating the optimal calorie deficit for weight loss just isn’t going to cut it because you may overestimate your energy requirements leading to slow weight loss or underestimate your energy requirements and then be at risk of your body shutting down into ‘starvation mode’[1]  – hindering any fat lot and reducing your resting metabolic rate (slowing down your metabolism).  Understanding how to calculate a calorie deficit with diet based on genetics AKA your personal needs can help you get it just right.

How does a diet based on genetics calculate my calorie requirements?

Ever heard someone say they’ve got a fast metabolism? Or do you feel yours is slow? This is often the case based on our ability to balance energy in the body. A diet based on genetics such as ‘The DNA Way’ can identify your unique variant of the UCP1 gene that will affect your RMR.

The UCP1 gene codes for the ‘uncoupling protein 1’ found in fat tissue, whose main role is involved in the metabolic processes that create energy and then release it in the form of heat. This gene also regulates normal body temperature that can also impact RMR.

It’s so interesting that 2 in 5 people have naturally lower resting metabolic rates and require a larger energy deficit for weight loss (less calories) because they have the ‘GG’ or ‘GA’ variant  of the UCP1 gene, which results in their bodies not requiring as much energy for those involuntary actions such as breathing, maintaining body temperature and pumping blood around your body. On the other hand, 3 out of 5 people have normal RMR due to the ‘AA’ variant and do not need a large energy deficit  (1). . If these individuals cut their calories too much their weight loss will slow because they aren’t eating enough due to metabolic adaptation.

Eating The DNA Way is a leading lifestyle and diet based on genetics, created by expert Dietitian Rachel Clarkson who supports those tired of fad diets discover a way of eating for life based on Nutrigenomic science for DNA and diet. Download your FREE expert weight loss guide that supports the foundations of weight loss before you even think about food.


Nagai N et al. UCP1 genetic polymorphism (-3826A/G) diminishes resting energy expenditure and thermoregulatory sympathetic nervous system activity in young females. Int J Obesity. 2011;35:1050-5.

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