What Is a Calorie Deficit?
When you eat fewer calories than you burn you create a calorie deficit, also sometimes called an energy deficit as calories are a unit of heat or energy. You must be in a calorie deficit to lose weight.
All of the food you eat contains energy in the form of calories. You need to consume calories for your body to function properly. But most of us consume more calories than we need each day. This creates a calorie surplus where the extra calories don’t always get excreted and often will then end up being stored as fat.
So how do you get rid of extra fat and lose weight? There are many training methods which impact on hormones which we have discussed in previous blogs. But the science also dictates that you will need to create a calorie deficit. This energy deficit happens when you eat less or train to burn more calories. If your body doesn't get the calories it needs to perform all of its necessary functions, you create a calorie deficit. When you create a calorie deficit, your body gets energy or fuel from stored fat. This is the extra fat that you carry. Stored fat is stored energy which your body can use to keep moving instead of using energy from food. When your body burns fat for energy, you lose weight.
The Proper Calorie Deficit to Lose Weight
While it seems simple to create a calorie deficit and lose weight, it isn't as easy as it seems. You need to create a specific calorie deficit for weight loss to happen. Specialists estimate that you need a calorie deficit of around 3500 calories per week to lose one pound of fat.
Whilst the total number seems high, the weekly energy deficit can be broken down into daily deficits to make weight loss more manageable. If you create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you'll achieve a total deficit of 3500 calories per week.
How to Create a Calorie Deficit
So how do you create a deficit of 500 calories per day or 3500 calories per week? You don't have to starve yourself. In fact there are three healthy ways to create a calorie deficit for weight loss.
• Eat less food.
If you cut your portion sizes, cut back on snacking and choose lower-calorie foods at mealtime, you'll consume fewer calories each day. If you reduce your caloric intake enough, you'll create a calorie deficit large enough for weight loss. Try and combine this with maintaining the right macronutrient ratios and taking on the right micronutrients for a healthy diet.
• Get more active.
The number of calories your body needs each day depends on your activity level. That includes the exercise you do every day and also your non-exercise physical movement. If you increase the number of calories your body needs, but still consume the same number of calories from food, you'll reach a calorie deficit.
• Combine diet and exercise.
Most successful dieters combine diet and exercise to lose weight. That means that they might eat 250 fewer calories each day and then burn at least an additional 250 calories which takes an average person about 25 minutes. The calorie deficit would total 500 calories. If you created a similar plan for each day, you'd reach the 3500 calorie deficit needed for weight loss. By training you will not only be able to achieve fat loss but also build muscle and shape.
If you understand and create a calorie deficit on a regular basis, you'll be able to achieve your goal weight. Talking through your plan with a nutritionist or qualified personal trainer will enable you to determine the right way to achieve a calorie deficit in combination with your starting fat %, fitness levels and your goal weight or %.
A Word of caution from Fit For Anything
If you've set a goal to slim down, you'll find countless plans on the market that promise to provide results without counting calories or reducing your food intake. But every plan must create a calorie deficit to be effective. Most of the plans that sidestep calorie counting help you to make lower-calorie food choices, or time your meals so you consume less. In short, they are just creative ways to reach the same outcome. Sometimes they work, but often they don't.
Keep in mind that you don't need to spend money on expensive programs to slim down. Create your own calorie deficit by setting small goals and making small changes throughout the day. Perhaps walk more, do more circuit type training and so on. Combine diet and exercise and over the long term, the plan you create is usually a plan you are most likely to stick to.
The above is a very basic guide. If you are stuck or have reached a certain barrier or weight loss plateau please let me know so we can keep you on the right track.