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What Foods Help Achieve A Calorie Deficit

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 18, 2023

What Foods Help Achieve A Calorie Deficit

On top of low-carb and ketogenic diet regimens, another term in weight loss is gaining ground: calorie deficit. How does it help you lose weight, and what food items should you stock up on to do it properly? The answers and more here. 

What is Calorie Deficit?

Unlike low-carb diet which instructs you to focus on foods low in carbohydrates, or ketogenic diet which involves eating foods high in fat (healthy fats, to be specific), calorie deficit can occur without food type restriction. 

Calorie deficit, after all, is not a fad diet. It’s a principle anchored on the fact that if you consume less calories than you burn, then you would eventually lose weight. 

In other words, when people consume half a cup of rice instead of one, or when they skip a meal, they are banking on the belief that “eating less makes you lose more.”

But, of course, reducing your portion sizes abruptly and skipping meals are not healthy. How can you achieve a calorie deficit the healthy way? What foods should you prepare?

Important Reminder

Before we list down the must-have food items to achieve calorie deficit, remember that you first need to calculate how many calories you’re going to consume. 

There are many calorie deficit calculators online, where you just need to input details and your preferred weight loss rate to get how many calories you need to maintain your weight and how many calories you must cut from that to achieve a deficit. 

But of course, the best way is still to consult your doctor or dietitian. You can have an in-depth discussion with them about your physical activity, goals, and most importantly, your underlying health conditions. They will take them all into account before recommending appropriate pacing. 

With that being said, what food items should you stock up on?

Must-Have Food Items for Calorie Deficit

Say your doctor advises that you need about 2,300 calories a day to maintain your current weight. They also said you need to reduce it by 500 calories daily to lose 1-2 pounds weekly. 

What foods can help you achieve this deficit?

Green Vegetables

If you want to achieve a deficit, it’s best to prepare some green vegetables. Not only are they rich in fiber that helps keep you satiated, but they also have numerous micronutrients essential for health.

While you may be partial to some green veggies, remember that the best way is to have a variety of them every day. 

Whole Grains

Trying to achieve a calorie deficit may be harder if you stick to white rice. So, why not stock up on whole grains?

Whole grains are high in fiber and lower in sugar. They are also associated with reduced risk of diabetes and improved heart health. 

Instead of white rice, consider brown rice. Whole oats are also excellent as well as corn. 

Fresh Fruits

Like vegetables, fruits are also healthy sources of micronutrients. They will help you achieve a deficit because they are filling, seeing as they are rich in fiber and water. 

Eat fruits instead of sugary snacks, but stick to fresh fruits (not fruit juices, dried, and canned).

Lean Protein

Calorie deficit for weight loss? Then, stock up on lean protein as they have the least fat and most protein. They can help you build lean muscle, which also helps you lose weight. 

Instead of fatty cuts, stock up on lean meat, poultry, eggs, seafood, and nuts. 

Low Fat Dairy And Healthy Oils

They may not be macros, but low fat or fat-free dairy and healthy oils are also crucial for calorie deficit. 

Drinking a glass of full-fat milk, for instance, gives you more calories than the same amount of their low-fat or fat-free counterparts. Unhealthy cooking oils, such as processed brands, also add up to your calories and even contribute to heart diseases. 

Even with this list, please remember that foods are just one factor in weight loss. Exercise also matters a great deal. Don’t hesitate to contact your doctor or dietitian. 

Learn more about Diet and Weight Loss here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Mar 18, 2023

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