Have you ever wondered what makes weight loss successful? Do you ever feel like some of your clients lose weight with greater ease than others?
If so, you’re in luck because we’ll be going over the number one requirement for weight loss, which is the calorie deficit.
Without further ado, let’s dive in, see what a calorie deficit is, what it means for us, and what you can do with this information.
What Is a Calorie Deficit?
To understand what a calorie deficit is, we first have to look at how we expend energy briefly. Each day, your body expends calories in four primary ways (1):
- Basal metabolic rate (BMR) – the number of calories your body burns at rest
- Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – how many calories you burn each day through movement (brushing your teeth, walking up a flight of stairs, etc.)
- Exercise activity thermogenesis (EAT) – the calories you burn through a dedicated exercise session
- Thermic effect of food (TEF) – how many calories your body burns to break down the foods you consume and absorb their nutrients.
Together, these four values make up your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE). A calorie deficit means consuming fewer calories than your body burns. For example, if your TDEE is 3,000 calories, but you’re consuming only 2,500, you’re in a 500-calorie deficit.
Is a Calorie Deficit All We Need to Lose Weight?
Yes, being in a caloriedeficit is the only requirement for weight loss (2). By consuming fewer calories than you burn, your body has no choice but to break down fat and lean tissue for the remaining energy it needs. The calorie deficit is precisely what makes every diet effective for weight loss. Sure, you might not be tracking your calories, but you’re reducing your intake and putting yourself in a deficit.
However, losing weight shouldn’t be the primary goal. Instead, we should strive to lose fat and maintain our muscle. In doing so, we can reach our goals quicker, maintain our physical abilities, and look better once we are finished.
The problem is optimal fat loss isn’t necessarily the same as weight loss because we have to be more detail oriented.
What Makes Fat Loss Effective (And How the Calorie Deficit Fits In)
- Effective fat loss requires four things:
- Calorie deficit (2)
- Resistance training (3)
- Protein (4)
- Sleep (5)
First, you have to be in a moderate calorie deficit and lose anywhere from 0.5 to 1 percent of your body weight each week (6).
Second, you should do resistance training to stimulate your muscles, forcing your body to keep them around (3). As little as three weekly sessions can be enough for you to achieve that.
Third, you need to eat enough protein to support the muscle you have and promote post-workout recovery. According to most research, we should consume between 1.6 and 2 grams of protein per kilo of body weight (4).
Fourth, you need to get enough sleep because research suggests that sleep deprivation leads to excessive muscle loss while dieting (5). General guidelines recommend sleeping for around seven hours per night.
People often like to complicate things unnecessarily, especially regarding weight loss. But, as you saw above, the number one factor determining our fat loss success is our ability to establish and maintain a calorie deficit.
While seemingly tricky, establishing a calorie deficit is simpler than it appears, leading to weight loss and possibly improved health markers.