300 Calorie Deficit: Is It Healthy & How Much Can You Lose?

If you want to lose weight and you’re thinking of implementing a 300-calorie deficit, you’re probably wondering whether it’s enough or too much of a deficit based on your goals.

Is a 300-calorie deficit healthy? A 300-calorie deficit is healthy for most individuals who want to lose weight because it’s a conservative approach to weight loss. However, it may not be the best course of action for those who maintain their weight on 1500 calories or less because it could result in excess hunger, low energy, and a slow metabolism.

Although a 300-calorie deficit is a great option for most people, it’s important to know how to implement it so you can be sure you’re actually on track to reach your goals.

After reading this article, you’ll learn:

  • What a 300-calorie deficit is
  • If a 300-calorie deficit is healthy
  • If a 300-calorie deficit is appropriate for you
  • How to achieve a 300-calorie deficit
  • If a 300-calorie deficit is worth it

What Does a 300 Calorie Deficit Mean?

A 300-calorie deficit means you are eating 300 calories less than your maintenance calories, which is the number of calories you need to maintain your body weight.

For example, If you maintain your body weight by eating 2000 calories per day, a 300-calorie deficit would be 1700 calories per day.

A calorie deficit is required to lose weight. You have to eat less than your maintenance calories for your body to burn its resources (preferably fat) for fuel, which results in weight loss.

That being said, any deficit will work for weight loss. But too small of a deficit can make the process of losing weight very slow, and too large of a deficit can result in decreases in muscle mass, energy, and overall health.

300 Calorie Deficit: Healthy or Not?

A 300-calorie deficit is healthy because it leads to a healthy rate of weight loss where you’re able to reduce your body fat percentage without compromising your health.

That being said, a 300-calorie deficit isn’t always healthy.

If you have a history of yo-yo dieting (dieting, falling off track, dieting again, falling off track again, etc.) your metabolism has likely slowed down, causing your maintenance calories to be lower than they should be based on your age, height, weight, and activity level.

If your maintenance calories are already lower than they should be because your metabolism has slowed down, it may not be healthy for you to implement a 300-calorie deficit. Rather, you should increase your calories to speed up your metabolism through reverse dieting

For example, if you maintain your weight on 1500 calories or less, but your maintenance calories before yo-yo dieting were 2200 calories per day, it may not be healthy for you to implement a 300-calorie deficit because your metabolism is already slower than it should be.

That being said, as long as your maintenance calories are appropriate based on your sex, age, height, body composition, and activity level, and you’re not already underweight, then a 300-calorie deficit is healthy.

Should You Use A 300 Calorie Deficit? 

A 300-calorie deficit is appropriate for those who want to lose weight conservatively to retain muscle mass, but it may not be aggressive enough for those who want to lose weight more quickly.

If you want to lose weight and your maintenance calories are above 1500, a 300-calorie deficit is a great option for you.

If your maintenance calories are 1500 or below, a 300-calorie deficit isn’t the best option for you unless you’re competing in a bodybuilding competition.

Most people require more than 1200 calories just to perform basic functions like breathing.

If you struggle to lose weight on 1200 calories a day, check out Eating 1200 Calories Per Day & Not Losing Weight (Why?).

What Can You Expect Being on a 300-Calorie Deficit? 

What can you expect being on a 300-calorie deficit. Pros vs Cons

A 300-calorie deficit will result in weight loss but at a slow enough pace that you can maintain your muscle mass and look strong and lean. You’d most likely lose around 0.5 to 1% of your body weight per week. 

For example, if you weigh 180lbs, you could expect to lose between 0.9lbs to 1.8lbs per week.

A 300-calorie deficit should also be easy to adhere to as long as your maintenance calories are reasonable and your metabolism hasn’t slowed down too much from dieting on and off.

Pros

  • Fat loss. Eating fewer calories than your body needs will result in fat loss by encouraging your body to use its own fat for fuel.
  • Encourages muscle retention. A 300-calorie deficit is conservative enough that you should be able to maintain your current muscle mass as you lose fat as long as your protein intake is adequate (1g of protein/lb of bodyweight).
  • Improved health outcomes. Weight loss, when appropriate, can improve health outcomes like blood pressure, sleep, and mood.

Cons

  • Decreases metabolism. When calories are reduced over time, your metabolism slows down in response to the lower caloric intake to preserve energy.

How To Achieve a 300 Calorie Deficit

how to achieve a 300 calorie deficit

Step 1: Find Your Maintenance Calories

The first step is to find your maintenance calories so you know how much your body needs to maintain your weight, which is important so you know you’re actually in a deficit.

The most accurate way to find your maintenance calories is to log your food into an app like MacroFactor while monitoring your body weight. Get a free two-week trial by using the code FEASTGOOD when downloading the app.

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The goal is to tweak your intake until your body weight is stable to find your maintenance calories.

A faster but less accurate way to find your maintenance calories is to estimate them using a calorie calculator like this one

Step 2: Decrease Your Calories By 300

Once you’ve found your maintenance calories, you can subtract them by 300 calories to find your deficit calories to encourage weight loss.

For example, If your maintenance calories are 2700 calories, your deficit calories will be 2400 calories.

If you track your macros, it’s important to know that the 300-calorie decrease should come from carbs and/or fats, but it shouldn’t come from protein.

For reference, a 300-calorie decrease from fats alone would be 33 grams of fat; a 300-calorie decrease in carbs would be 75 grams of carbs. 

I would recommend a 60/40 split for carbs to fat, which would be a reduction of 45 grams of carbs and 13 grams of fat.

Step 3: Monitor Progress & Adjust As Necessary

For the best results, it’s important to adhere to the 300-calorie deficit as consistently as you can. It’s also important to monitor your progress in other ways, such as body measurements or how your clothes fit. Your body weight often doesn’t change as much as your body composition.

Additionally, as you continue to diet, your metabolism will naturally slow down, and what was once a calorie deficit isn’t anymore. It’s important to monitor for signs of progress to ensure you’re on track to reach your goals.

If you notice that your body weight and measurements aren’t changing over time (2 to 3 weeks of zero progress), you may need a bigger deficit to see progress.

Is a 300-Calorie Deficit Too Much?

A 300-calorie deficit is very reasonable and isn’t too aggressive as long as your caloric intake doesn’t get too low. If a 300-calorie deficit results in you eating 1200 calories or less, it might be too much.

Although a 300-calorie deficit is generally healthy if your metabolism isn’t as fast as it should be, causing you to maintain your weight on fewer calories, you’re not necessarily healthy, to begin with.

Is a 300 Calorie Deficit Worth It? My Practical Advice

A 300-calorie deficit is worth it for anyone who wants to lose weight at a pace that encourages muscle retention and long-term sustainability. 

A 300-calorie deficit is the weight loss approach I recommend to most of my clients who want to pursue weight loss and keep it off.

It produces results, it helps clients maintain their muscle mass so they continue to keep their metabolism as high as possible, and they can still live their lives without feeling like they’re missing out by being on a diet.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Weight Can You Lose With a 300-Calorie Deficit?

With a 300-calorie deficit, you could expect to lose 0.5 to 1% of your body weight per week until your body adjusts to the deficit and stops burning calories as regularly.

Will You Lose Muscle On a 300 Calorie Deficit?

You can lose muscle with a 300-calorie deficit if you’re not eating enough protein (1 gram per pound of body weight) or strength training. However, it’s unlikely that a 300-calorie deficit would result in a significant amount of muscle loss because it’s a fairly conservative deficit.

Can You Stick to a 300 Calorie Deficit Long Term?

A 300-calorie deficit is a long-term approach to dieting because it’s a more conservative approach. However, I don’t recommend dieting for more than 12 to 16 weeks to give your metabolism time to speed back up so you can make the most of your time spent dieting.

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About The Author

Amanda Parker
Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker is an author, nutrition coach, and Certified Naturopath.  She works with bodybuilders, Olympic weightlifters, and powerlifters to increase performance through nutrition and lifestyle coaching.