It’s hard to think of weight loss without thinking about calories. I’m sure you all know someone obsessing over the amount of calories in a certain food and no doubt you’ve been lectured about the amount of calories in something you’re eating by a hardcore calorie counter.
But the truth is, if you want to get a grip on your weight, whether it’s weight loss, weight gain or weight maintenance, understanding calories is very important.
To master this, you need to understand what they are and how they affect our body and what they do.
Now I know nobody really enjoys counting calories and most see it as a necessary evil. But I can’t stress enough the importance of knowing your calorie demands and knowing what you are putting in your body. If it’s just guess work, then you’re not gonna get anywhere.
How Calories Are Used
Understanding this is key to anything related to weight management.
There is 3 calorie terms used.
1) Calorie Surplus – eating more calories than you burn.
2) Calorie Deficit – burning more calories than you consume.
3) Calorie Balance – you consume the same amount as you burn.
Those of you who have gained weight have been in a calorie surplus. So to lose that weight you need to go into a calorie deficit. It’s that simple!
This is proven by many university studies to be the fundamentals to fat loss. Losing fat is simply manipulating the fuel that we put in our bodies.
As we’ve established before, if you burn more than you eat you will lose fat. But just because it’s easy in theory doesn’t mean that it’s easy to master. Though hopefully after all of this and some hard work and discipline, mastering this concept will be easy and will serve for the rest of your life.
So know that you are aware of what a calorie deficit is, we can now look at ways to apply it to our diet and what deficit and what deficit method works best for you to get the results you want.
There will be 3 approaches to a calorie deficit that we will look at. I have used each of these methods with and they are proven to work. Follow the steps and stick at it and you will see results.
1) Picking a deficit number
This is definitely the most common method. Pick a calorie deficit number and stick to it. The size of the deficit determines the amount of weight that you lose. So you are trying to find the sweet spot of a big enough deficit to lose weight but not too big that you are depleting yourself.
The bigger the deficit the more weight you lose but in theory is more difficult due to having a bigger deficit.
The smaller the deficit the less weight you will lose but due to it being a small deficit it should be easy to stick to and you shouldn’t feel depleted at all.
Obviously it verys person to person, but usually get clients to do a 500 calorie deficit a day. The reason for this is because there are 3500 calories in 1 pound of fat. So a 500 calorie deficit over 7 days means that you lose 1lb/0.5kg in a week.
So you know exactly how much you are going to lose each week. Plus a 500 deficit between cleaning up your diet and regular exercise shouldn’t be too difficult to achieve. This is why I like to 500 as good number to start with, decent results without being too difficult.
Though for some people this might be difficult. But for others, it might be too easy and too slow.
When you work out your maintenance calories, 500 could be a big enough percent of your calories to cut. Which then means if you have a high calorie maintenance, 500 will be a smaller percent and might be too slow to get you where you want.
The good thing is you don’t have to stick to the 500. If it’s too intense do a smaller deficit. If it’s too easy, then try a bigger deficit, which means that you’ll lose more fat faster.
2) Deficit Number Based Off Percent
I mentioned percentage of calories in the previous section. So instead of picking a number like before, now we gonna look at cutting a percentage of your calories. This will make it a lot more specific to you.
So you could, for example, cut your calories by 20%. So you would work out your maintenance calories and then deduct 20%.
This method definitely takes you energy needs more into consideration than the other method of just picking a number.
This method will allow people with a higher maintenance calorie level to eat more and lose fat. Those who are in a lower maintenance level will have a smaller deficit that suits their calorie need much better.
3) Picking a Number Based Off a Weight Goal For a Specific Time
Now this method is slightly more complex. It basically takes the previous methods and kicks it up a gear. Now this doesn’t mean that you should shy away from it or be scared of it. It just means that this is gonna be more intense based on the fast that you will use this if you are doing on a shorter time scale.
So from earlier we know that 1 pound of fat has 3500 calories of fat. Say you wanted to or need to lose 20 pounds in roughly 3 months (90 days) because you’ve going on holiday or you’re involved in a wedding. Or maybe you need to be a certain weight for a sports event.
What you would do is do 20lbs multiple by 3500= 70,000 calories. You take the 70,000 calories and divide it by the amount of days you have to lose the weight. In this case 90 days, so you divide 70,000 by 90 and get 778 calories. That gives you the deficit for each day for those 990 days.
Is this realistic? Probably not. I certainly could be done but probably just not very enjoyable and you would need to be on the ball to achieve this. But if this your goal and what you want to do, then this is how you would go about it.
Just make sure that your number is realistic and that you can stick to it. So it may mean lowering your goal or starting earlier so that you aren’t cutting too many calories over a shorter period of time.
These are the top 3 calorie deficit methods in my opinion. Yes it does involve calorie counting which, let’s face it can be a pain in the ass. But it does work and if you know your maintenance calories and you track what you are putting your body, then you can easily gauge and know your weight loss numbers.
Now this does not mean that you have to obsess over every single calorie, you can still eat the foods you enjoy. But having an understanding of calories and a calorie deficit will make your weight loss journey much easier.