A recent study showed that the average women will have tried 61 different diets by the age of 45. Given how simple the science behind weight loss actually is, it’s incredibly sad to see so many people struggling to lose weight. Thanks to modern society, and the cultural trend of “secret pills” and “ultimate diets” somehow the main concept that will ACTUALLY help you to lose weight has become lost amongst the noise of flashy advertising campaigns promising weight loss if you purchase their miracle product. Why? Because it can’t be marketed in the same way that a special powder or secret diet can, it’s just too simple. So what, you might ask, is this simple concept that will help me lose weight? It’s called a “caloric deficit”, and it is the ONLY way to lose weight.
Many “diets” overlook this key concept, and instead focus solely on avoiding certain foods and only eating “healthy” ones. However, eating healthy is not all that it takes in order to lose weight. Below, I will discuss the science behind creating a caloric deficit, and the best way for you personally to go about achieving it in order to lose weight the simple way – no crazy diets, no “bad foods” vs “good foods”, just plain old science.
What is a caloric deficit?
In the most basic terms, a caloric deficit is created when you burn (or expend) more calories in a day, than you take in. How large the deficit is depends on many factors, such as activity level, your basal metabolic rate (the number of calories your body burns each day even at rest), and your personal statistics such as age, weight, height, etc.
How do you create a caloric deficit?
A caloric deficit is created through determining the number of calories your body uses each day, which will be a combination of your BMR (basal metabolic rate) and whatever calories you burn through physical activity. Once you have determined this number, you aim to eat less calories than your body will use each day. How much less is up to you, but cutting your caloric intake too drastically can backfire in the long-run, causing that yo-yo effect so many people experience (more about that in a future article). So in order to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable way, a good number to start with would be a 100 calorie a day deficit. So say your daily caloric needs are 2000, you would set your calories at 1900 each day. Ensure that you choose quality food sources, such as lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbs to make up the bulk of your calories each day, as these food are not dense in calories, and therefore, even in a caloric deficit, will help to keep your body feeling satisfied and adequately nourished. After tracking your results for a week or two, you can adjust from there. Your activity level will also change each day, so be sure to compensate for that. But remember, less can be more, so always create the smallest deficit possible that will still allow you to continue progressing towards your goals. Crash diets are NEVER the answer.
Why will a caloric deficit help me to lose weight?
Body fat is gained through eating an excess of calories, or as you might say, eating outside of your metabolic capacity. Your body stores these excess calories as fat. Therefore, in order to reduce body fat, you must do the opposite, and eat less than your metabolic capacity. This forces your body to tap into your fat stores for energy, and use them in place of the calories that you would normally be taking in to meet this demand for an energy source. As Einstein said, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Gaining and losing weight is a perfect example of this.
In conclusion, losing weight ultimately comes down to the basic concept of creating a caloric deficit. It’s not about bad foods or good foods, and there are no secret pills. Of course there are several ways to go about creating this deficit, and methods that you can use to increase the effects of the deficit you create, but none of those tools will help you lose weight all by themselves. It’s all about calories in vs. calories out.