When you start a diet and exercise program it doesn’t take long to find yourself learning new things and having questions. One common question is how do I lose weight? And the answer to that is simple. Through a calorie deficit or simply eating fewer calories than you burn in a day.
What is a calorie deficit?
A calorie deficit is where you have eaten fewer calories than your body needs to burn off in a 24 hour period. This can be from eating fewer calories or from burning off more calories with increased exercises from a combination of the two.
To lose weight you do not need to exercise if you can create a calorie deficit through diet alone but if you want to have toned muscles and look good rather than being “Skinny Fat” you want to get in plenty of exercises as well including resistance training. You can not lose weight without a calorie deficit.
Choosing the right calorie deficit is part of setting healthy achievable goals for your health and fitness.
How does a calorie deficit help me lose weight?
A calorie deficit helps you lose weight by forcing your body to use stored fat as fuel. This allows your body to burn off excess fat. The best way to get a calorie deficit is to find out your Base Metabolic Rate or BMR for short.
This tells you what your body needs to stay at your current weight if you did nothing but lay in bed all day. Take this number and remove 300 to 500 calories to get how many calories you should be eating to create a calorie deficit.
If I am in a calorie deficit does it matter where those calories come from?
Yes, it really does. While some people feel that calories are calories the truth is what you eat really does factor into how your body treats those calories. Calories from sugar and carbs are more likely to be stored as fat while calories from protein are more likely to go into muscle recovery and building.
Does exercising mean I can eat more and still be in a calorie deficit?
Whether you can eat more after exercising is really up to how fast you want to reach your goals and how hungry working out makes you feel. If you are feeling very hungry then that is a signal that your body may need a bit more nutrition to keep up with the demands of your workout routine.
In this case, choose a healthy extra meal or a protein shake to help give you more calories that will fuel your body’s needs.
If you are feeling well after your workout you can skip adding more calories to your diet for the day to give you a larger calorie deficit that helps speed up weight loss. The key to this is to really listen to the needs of your body.
Try kettlebells for a calorie torching workout.
How much of a calorie deficit do I need to lose weight?
While any deficit will allow you to lose weight. Too much of a deficit can convince your body that it is starting and even lead to gaining weight should you have a day you eat more such as planned cheat day or when out for a family event. A steady yet moderate calorie deficit of 300 to 500 calories a day will help you lose weight at a steady pace.
Can you have too much of a calorie deficit?
Yers. As said above if you are cutting too many calories each day you train your metabolism to slow down and begin to store everything it can get when you do eat more.
What really happens when you don’t eat enough?
A lot of new dieters will jump right in with eating 800 to 12000 calories a day thinking they are giving themselves an advantage. But the truth is this doesn’t help you lose weight. It convinces your body that it is starving and that it needs to conserve energy and store everything it can.
When you do not eat enough your metabolism slows to a halt, stalling weight loss and leaving you sluggish and tired. If you sustain this unrealistic calorie intake for too long your body will fit into protein stores in your muscles as well as fat to use as fuel. As you lose muscle your metabolism will slow down even more making the problem progressively worse.
Instead of reducing your calories too low try a clean whole foods diet for the whole family.
How do I calculate the right calorie deficit for me?
Every individual is different and needs a different number of calories to sustain itself as well as burn off fat for weight loss. Eat too many calories and you will gain weight. Eat too little, you will lower your metabolism and find yourself feeling drained.
Before deciding how many calories you should eat to maintain a deficit you should calculate your Base Metabolic Rate. This BMR calculator will tell you how many calories your body needs to sustain itself if you do nothing all day along with the calorie requirements for different activity levels.