SUSTAINABLE WEIGHT LOSS
Why You Need To Be On a Calorie Deficit to Slim Down
BY HIRANMAYII AWLI MOHANAN
While bodies at any size should be celebrated, many of us would like to lose a kilogramme or two to look good — and there’s nothing wrong with that either. The generic principle of weight loss is eating fewer calories than your body burns each day. When you eat fewer calories than you burn, you create a calorie deficit, also called an energy deficit. This is because calories are a unit of heat or energy. Many nutritional and fitness experts believe this is the best way to a sustainable fat loss. It seems simple enough but what’s not so easy is actually doing it. How do you know if you’re eating fewer calories than your body burns? Exactly what size of a “calorie deficit” should you aim for? Read on to learn all about calorie deficit.
# WHAT IS A CALORIE DEFICIT?
Many people consume more calories than they need to maintain their weight each day. When you consistently eat more calories than your body needs, the extra calories are stored as fat. So how do you get rid of extra fat and lose weight? You create a calorie deficit. This energy deficit happens when you eat less during the day. If your body doesn’t get the calories it needs to perform all of its necessary functions, you create a calorie deficit. When you create a calorie deficit, your body turns to stored fat (extra weight accumulated throughout the body) for energy and fuel.
# CALORIE DEFICIT TO LOSE WEIGHT
While it seems simple to create a calorie deficit and lose weight, many people who are trying to lose weight struggle with the process. It’s not as easy as it seems. You need to create a specific energy deficit for weight loss to happen. Researchers estimate that you need a calorie deficit of 3,500 calories per week to lose 0.5 kg of fat. That seems like a lot of calories, doesn’t it? While the total number seems high, the weekly energy deficit can be broken down into daily deficits to make weight loss more manageable. If you create a calorie deficit of 500 calories per day, you’ll reach a total deficit of 3,500 calories per week. It isn’t necessary to drop 500 calories a day from your diet because any deficit will lead to weight loss. It’s a matter of time, depending on how great the deficit is.
# HOW DO YOU CALCULATE A CALORIE DEFICIT FOR WEIGHT LOSS?
There are a lot of different ways to figure out your calorie deficit, and some are more accurate than others. There are different ways of calculating calorie needs, such as the Harris-Benedict Equation, Mifflin-St Jeor Equation or Katch-McArdle Formula. There are many formulas out there to help you calculate your calorie needs, but a study found that the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation is very accurate. That equation calculates your basal metabolic rate (BMR), which is the minimum number of calories your body burns at rest.
For women, the Mifflin-St. Jeor equation is:
BMR = (10 x weight in kg) + (6.25 x height in cm) – (5 x age in years) – 161.
So, the BMR equation for, a 25-year-old woman who is 163 cm and weighs 68 kg would be the following:
BMR= (10 x 68) + (6.25 x163) – (5 x 25) -161 = 1,413 calories
If you don’t like doing the maths, you can turn to many online calculators that will do the work for you. It takes in your current weight and fitness level, along with your weight loss goals, and helps map out how many calories you need to take in to lose the weight over the period of time you specify.
# ACHIEVING A CALORIE DEFICIT
There are a few different ways you can go about creating a calorie deficit and ideally, factor in a combo of all the following changes:
• Do more strength training
Exercise in general can help burn more calories, but strength training helps to boost your body’s energy needs, increasing the calories you burn at rest. Muscles require calories or energy 24/7, so if you have more lean muscle mass, you burn more calories to maintain your weight. As a result, you won’t have to cut back on as much food to create a deficit.
• Reduce your carb intake
The body converts most carbohydrates in your body to sugar and those calories are always absorbed or stored in your body for later use. Cutting back on your carbs means your body will store less away for the future.
• Add more protein, fibre and healthy fat to your diet
Incorporate high-fibre foods such as fruits and veggies, so you are satiated longer even though your entree size may be smaller and helps you eat less. Adding more fibre, protein and healthy fat to your meals has the same effect.
• Stop eating after dinner
The best way to get a deficit is to stop yourself from eating after dinner. Most people would have met their calorie needs by then, so snacking after dinner or before bed just adds extra calories.
• Keep a food journal
You’ve probably heard it before, but it actually works. Most of us are blissfully unaware of what we eat, so writing down what you eat on a regular basis can be eye-opening and help you plan where you can cut back.