Most people know you have to be in a calorie deficit to lose fat. In this article I explain exactly what that means and how you can create a calorie deficit for fat loss step-by-step.
Let’s start by defining exactly what we mean by a calorie deficit: Calories are a unit of energy found in foods and beverages. Extra calories are stored as body fat, and when you consume less calories than you use, you create a calorie deficit. When you create a calorie deficit consistently every day, you will lose body fat. There are about 3500 calories stored in one pound of body fat. So if you create a 500 calorie deficit every day for 7 days you’ll lose one pound of body fat in one week. Okay simple enough, but how do I do that?...
- Step 1 is to figure out your maintenance calories, or how many calories you need to eat each day to maintain your body weight. I recommend a calorie calculator like the Spirit and Muscle Calorie Calculator, which is based on the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation. There are many formulas to calculate your daily calorie needs, and honestly none of them are guaranteed 100% accurate, but I’ve found the Mifflin-St Jeor Equation to be pretty darn close, certainly this will give you a good place to start. Input your age, gender, height, weight and activity level. My daily maintenance calories at my current activity level are about 2300 calories a day to maintain my body weight.
- Step 2 is to decide how much of a deficit to create. For most people, losing about a pound a week is a good target, which means creating a 500 calorie deficit per day. So at my activity level, a 500 calorie deficit would be about 1800 calories per day. Now if you are significantly overweight, meaning 30 pounds or more overweight, you can safely lose 2 pounds a week by creating a 1000 calorie per day deficit. But when you get down below 15-20 pounds overweight, it’s recommended you slow down to about a pound a week. Losing weight too fast can cause you to lose muscle mass in addition to the fat loss. So remember this is a marathon not a sprint.
- Now that you’ve established your calorie needs each day to lose fat, step 3 is to start tracking your food intake to make sure you’re eating right for your goals. I can’t overstate the importance of keeping track of your nutrition. “What gets measured gets improved.” Otherwise there’s no way to know whether you’re hitting your target calories. There are many ways to track your food intake; you can just keep a food journal and write everything down. That’s what I did in the beginning, just write down each food you eat and how many calories, and how much protein, carbs and fat are in each food. You just keep track and add it up every so often to see where you’re at in relation to your daily calorie goals. Now regarding macronutrients, or macros, that refers to protein, carbs and fats. It’s important to track your macros as well as total calories. According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine, you want to eat approx. 35% of your daily calories in protein, which usually works out to be about 1 gram of protein per pound that you weigh. And 20-35% of your daily calories should come from fat, leaving 45-65% from carbs. In addition to keeping a hard-copy food log, there are many calorie tracking apps available, such as MyFitnessPal, that you download on your phone. There are also portion counting systems where you only have to keep track of portions instead of calories, fats, protein, and carbs. So which one is the best method of tracking your calories? The one you’ll use! So I’ll put the ball in your court: do some research, find out which method is the right one for you, then start using it to track your food intake!
- Step number 4 is to track your weekly progress and adjust as necessary. Use the scale and the mirror and how your clothes fit as your guide. Weigh yourself every day first thing in the morning and average out the week’s values. If you find you’re not losing weight then adjust your calories down by a couple hundred till you are making progress. You should be losing a pound or two a week consistently for several weeks, which brings me to…
- Step number 5, which is: Every 2-3 months re-evaluate your program. By 3 months in, your maintenance calories may have changed since you’re not carrying around as much extra body fat. Repeat step one using a calorie calculator. And if your maintenance calories are now lower, then your daily calorie goals will be lower as well. And if you’ve been losing 2 pounds a week, once you get down to being only 15-20 pounds overweight, it’s time to slow down to losing one pound a week.
So that’s it - 5 simple steps to create a calorie deficit for sustainable fat loss. Something else I would consider, if you’re not already, is adding is exercise: resistance training will help build lean body mass, which is metabolically active tissue, meaning you burn more calories even at rest. And I would also recommend doing some low impact, low intensity cardio a few times a week for overall health reasons and to speed up fat loss.
What does the Bible say about it?
One thing that comes to mind is the word balance. One of the fruit of the Spirit is temperance or self-control. Temperance means moderation, or avoiding extremes. So in our quest to look and feel better, let’s not create an extreme calorie deficit in doing so. Remember, losing weight too fast can cause you to lose muscle mass in addition to the fat loss. So remember this is a marathon not a sprint. Your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you were bought at a price. 1 Corinthians 10:31 says “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” God cares about what you eat. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel better, but don’t do it just for those reasons, do it for God!
Okay that’s it for this week’s article. Thanks for joining me. Don’t forget to pick up my calorie calculator combo, the ultimate free tools to help you succeed on your fitness journey, just visit the link below. That’s all for now, God bless you, and I’ll see you next time.
Free Calorie Calculator Combo: https://www.spiritandmuscle.com/calories