When it comes to fat-loss, slow and steady is the name of the game. While there are plenty of products and diets that will claim you can lose 10lbs. in one week it just isn’t true. You may lose 10lbs. on the scale by the end of the week, the majority of that weight is water. Fat-loss is a whole different ballgame. 
While that may work great if your goal is to look slimmer on one specific day, don’t expect the results to last.
I can understand why quick weight loss is appealing, especially if you’ve been struggling for a while. However, achieving long-lasting fat-loss takes time; remember, you didn’t gain the weight in a week. If you want to be able to maintain results you need to keep your metabolism as high as possible while still seeing results. That means preserving your muscle, lifting more, and moving more.

Why a drastic calorie cut may not be what you need.

If you’re trying to lose weight it may seem like cutting your calories drastically will equal faster results but before you go slashing your calories keep in mind that there are certain factors that determine how many calories you burn throughout the day:

  1. Your resting metabolic rate (RMR) – how many calories you burn throughout the day without doing anything.
  2. How many calories you burn through exercise
  3. How many calories you burn by eating – Yep, you burn calories when you eat. It’s small but it still counts.
  4. Your body fat – The more muscle you have the more calories it takes to maintain.
  5. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) – a fancy way of saying how many calories you burn doing non-exercise related activities. Everything from cooking to fidgeting.
So how does a calorie deficit impact the above factors?
Your body is smart. It’s wired to keep you alive. When you cut calories your body assumes that it’s because food is scarce, not because you’re trying to fit into those new skinny jeans. Your body responds by increasing hunger hormones and decreasing NEAT. The greater the deficit, the greater these are affected.
Have you ever gone on a diet only to feel like you’ve lost your willpower? You’re hungry all the time, and no matter what you do you can’t seem to stop thinking about food. It’s not you, it’s your hormones. Read this if you want to know more.
Since muscle takes more energy than fat your body is going to be far more willing to give up muscle, especially if it thinks you’re starving (not the same thing as “starvation mode” that isn’t actually a thing).
You’ll also burn fewer calories through eating and because you’re not eating as much you’ll  most likely have less energy for your workouts leading to fewer calories being burned in the gym.
For more on weightloss myths see here.
So how do you offset the effects?
  1. Create a smaller deficit – by keeping calories closer to maintenance it will be easier for your body to adapt to the changes and not cause you to feel hungry all the time.
  2. By not drastically cutting calories you’ll have more energy for your workouts leading to a greater calorie burn from exercise plus you’ll burn more calories from eating.
  3. Lift heavy – By lifting weights you’ll help to preserve your muscle which will help keep your metabolism up. For more on why lifting is important for fat-loss click here.
  4. Eat protein – High protein diets have been shown to help minimize muscle loss during fat-loss phases.
  5. While NEAT will still be impacted it won’t be as great as with a larger deficit.
By keeping your deficit small you’ll be able to have more energy, lose more body fat (rather than muscle or water weight), and you’ll be more likely to stick with it because you’re not hangry all the time. It also allows for more wiggle room. If you start your diet at 1800 calories and plateau after six weeks, you can easily drop your calories, but if you’re starting at 1200 it’s going to be a lot harder to cut calories when you plateau.
I realize I’ve covered a lot, and honestly, I’ve only scratched the surface. If you have questions or need help figuring out where to start just send me a message.
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