The biggest question asked in the fitness industry to date is how to lose weight efficiently and effectively.
Due to this, individuals get addictions of weighing themselves on a regular basis. The question should be, however, how to lose excess body fat, rather than lose weight, as this is the actual goal.
There are a lot of crash diets being promoted; we see them everywhere! Most of the time these diets will drop calories below 1000 a day of an individual’s daily maintenance calories, this is ridiculous! Especially when the average maintenance calories for a woman is 2,300-2,400kcal.
Creating a calorie deficit which is more than 1000 less than your maintenance is going to cause havoc with your hormonal balance. We want our endocrine system to be performing as optimally as possible.
FACT: When we lose weight, we need to be in a caloric deficit.
You must eat less energy than you expend. This means your body must use energy which it has already stored to carry out tasks, jobs, and exercise. This leads to weight loss. However, the majority want to lose excess body fat and ideally maintain as much muscle as possible. If you go on a crash calorie diet this won’t happen as the body will go into starvation mode.
In starvation mode, the body becomes extreme catabolic. When a calorie deficit is more than 1000 calories than maintenance, you can expect to be in a starvation mode within 3-4 days! So, your weight loss is coming from muscle tissue and water, rather than body fat.
Let’s take two people (Person A and person B) who weigh the same (80kg), and their goal is fat loss.
Person A goes on a crash calorie diet which is 1000 calories less than their maintenance and Person B goes on a calorie reduction plan which is 15% deficit (approx. 350kcal) of their calorie maintenance. Person A loses 6kg within a month, this is very quick weight loss for a month. Person B loses 6kg but it takes them twice as long. However, when you look at them, person B looks a lot leaner than person A at the same weight loss point… Why?
- Well, for person A, every kilogram (kg) lost, 75% of the weight loss came from muscle/protein and the other 25% came from fat.
- For person B, every kilogram lost, 75% of weight loss came from fat and the other 25% came from protein/muscle.
1 kilogram of fat has a much larger area than 1 kilogram of muscle, therefore, although the weight loss between the two is the same it appears that person B has lost a lot more weight due to losing a larger amount of fat.
What can you take from this?
Don’t rush fat loss; you will enjoy the journey more, you’ll still be able to eat the foods you enjoy and lose weight in the process. You will also achieve what you set out to do, lose excess body fat. If you cut out too many calories, you will burn muscle as fuel which not only drops your metabolism it gives you a less firm, flabby look. You can’t lose 100% fat when losing weight, but you can keep the percentage of fat loss high when completed correctly.
Top Tip #1: When on a calorie deficit, it is important to keep your protein intake high, this will prevent excessive muscle breakdown.
Top Tip #2: For fat loss, start with a calorie deficit of around 10-15% of your maintenance, if this works for you then great! If it isn’t working so well create an extra 5%. Nothing beats trial and error.