Calorie deficit to lose weight
You’ve probably heard that in order to lose weight, you must create a calorie deficit. But what exactly does this entail, and why is a calorie deficit required for weight loss?
A calorie deficit occurs when a person’s daily calorie intake is less than their daily calorie expenditure. To perform its daily functions, including exercising with the best exercise machines to lose weight, the body must burn a certain number of calories. The number of calories you require each day is determined by your age, gender, level of physical activity, height, weight, and body composition.
We spoke with nutrition experts to get the inside scoop on calorie deficits, including what they are and what happens when your calories plateau.
Calorie deficiency for weight loss: Meaning
A calorie deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body requires to perform all of its necessary functions. David Starr, a nutritionist, explains what happens when you create a calorie deficit. “To compensate, your body burns energy from your fat stores, causing you to lose weight.” Governments in the United States and the United Kingdom recommend a one-to-two-pound-per-week weight loss strategy based on a small energy deficit each day. Gradual weight loss gives people more time to develop the habit of eating fewer calories.”
To create a calorie deficit, you must first determine your maintenance calories. Maintenance calories are the exact number of calories required by your body to support energy expenditure. Calorie calculators, such as the National Institute of Health’s Body Weight Planner (opens in new tab), can help you. These calculators calculate your maintenance calories based on your weight, gender, age, height, and level of physical activity.
It should be noted, however, that not all nutrition experts or researchers agree that losing weight is as simple as cutting a certain number of calories per day. All calories are not created equal. A 500-calorie muffin made with refined sugar and white flour, for example, will have a very different effect on your body than a 500-calorie bowl of cooked porridge topped with blueberries and nuts. That is not to say that calories are unimportant, but they are not the only factor in weight management.
How can I form or create a calorie deficit?
You can calculate your calorie deficit once you know your maintenance calories. For example, if you burn 2,000 calories today but only consume 1,800, you have a 200-calorie deficit. According to research(opens in new tab), a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day is sufficient for weight loss and is unlikely to have a significant impact on your hunger or energy levels. However, don’t cut your calories too drastically. Diets with extremely low daily energy intake can sometimes result in nutritional deficiencies and should only be followed under medical supervision.
A calorie deficit can be created by reducing calories consumed, increasing activity levels, or both. Some people prefer to create a calorie deficit through diet alone rather than through exercise because they lack the time, energy, or motivation to exercise every day.
According to David Starr, “creating a calorie deficit is easiest by slightly reducing portion sizes, increasing the time between meals, or exchanging some higher-calorie ingredients for lower-calorie alternatives.” Most successful common weight loss plans work because they create a calorie deficit using one of these methods.”
Step-by-step method for creating calorie deficit
Instead of fad diets or intense exercise, health strategist Hayley Field(opens in new tab) suggests that the safest way to achieve a calorie deficit would be:
Reduce calories while increasing food volume: Focus on getting enough protein and filling up on nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods like vegetables, fruits, salads, and whole grains.
Increase your activity gradually: walking is a great place to start. It’s simple, free, and produces results when done consistently!
Weightlifting: This is excellent for muscle building, which burns more calories and ensures that you maintain lean muscle mass while losing fat.
Getting more quality sleep: A lack of sleep can affect the hormones that regulate appetite, making you hungrier, irritable, and more likely to make poor food decisions.
Set no daily targets: Flexibility is essential for a sustainable deficit. Rather than worrying about whether they’ve met a daily calorie goal, I encourage my clients to consider their deficit over the course of a week or even a month.
What happens when you no longer have a calorie deficit
Keep in mind that the closer you get to your ideal weight, the smaller the gap between the calories you need to maintain your weight and the number you need to support it. That means slower outcomes.
Field explains that even with a calorie deficit, your weight loss will slow over time, and you may reach a plateau or begin to gain weight. “As you lose weight, your calorie requirements decrease, so a 500-calorie deficit at 80kg becomes a much smaller deficit at 70kg.” And the longer you remain in a deficit, the more your body adapts to being more efficient with the fuel you provide it. Invisible things like fidgeting less, walking a little slower, and slouching in your chair are all ways for your body to conserve energy.”
Field suggests that instead of rushing to cut calories further to increase the deficit, you should monitor your fat loss and increase calories to the maintenance level once you’ve lost 10% of your total body weight. “This encourages the body to stop being so efficient with the fuel you give it and allows the metabolism to return to normal.” Dieting also provides a psychological “break.” We do this for 1-2 weeks, then return to the deficit and repeat the cycle until they achieve the desired fat loss.”
Is it possible to gain muscle while on a calorie deficit?
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you might be wondering if you can build muscle while losing weight. Balancing safe weight loss with muscle building can be difficult, and there are several factors to consider first.
First and foremost, what exactly is a calorie deficit? A calorie deficit occurs when you consume fewer calories than your body burns. On a calorie deficit, it is possible to build muscle with the best adjustable dumbbells, but your first priority should be to preserve the muscle mass you already have.
If you exercise regularly and want to improve your fat-muscle balance, you can lose fat while strengthening your lean body tissue over time.
If you’re an advanced exerciser or bodybuilder looking to gain a lot of muscle while also losing a lot of fat, this may be difficult because those goals frequently conflict. Continue reading to learn more about the muscle-building process, how calorie intake affects the amount of muscle you build, and whether you can build muscle while on a calorie deficit.