If like me you end up finding yourself on instagrams explore page from time to time, you’ll have probably have seen the term “calorie deficit”. You’ve got the well read, well educated or well informed camp telling you that the only way to reduce your body weight is through a calorie deficit. Then you’ve got the less educated influencers trying to confuse you. Why? I don’t know! Saying that calories don’t matter, that there are many other factors contributing to you not losing weight.
What is a calorie?
Calorie is a unit of measure. Just the way a KG is a measure and the thing we’re measuring is weight. The thing calories measure is the energy our body uses. We intake calories from foods and drinks and our body takes the calories from said foods and uses them for energy. What it cannot use, it stores in our reserve tank (fat tissue) just incase we ever have days where we don’t have any energy coming in, that way its got a back up.
Every single day we burn calories just by being alive. Your body has a million processes it needs to do daily to keep you alive all of which require energy, we call this RMR (resting metabolic rate) often confused with BMR which can only be measured in laboratory setting, so instead we estimate how many we need and call it RMR. We then burn calories through movement (pottering about, walking the dog etc. and of course exercise), our brain uses lots of energy to think and we also believe it or not use energy to digest food, its called the thermic effect and protein requires more energy than any other macro.
Whats is a calorie deficit / surplus
A calorie deficit is when the amount of energy we are putting into our body is less than then amount we are using. Our bodies need a certain amount of energy .If it doesn’t get it, we use up some of those reserve tanks which leads to us weighing less. Obviously we know that energy cannot be created or destroyed but transferred. So when we lose body fat we actually transfer it into H20 and C02, we breathe and sweat it out. If we intake the exact amount of energy our body burns, we stay the same weight.
So where is the confusion?
Every single person is different, therefore every persons calorie / energy requirements are different. Many people use calorie calculators to get an idea of how much they need each day and take it as bible, but while those calculators are so far the only scientific way of determining how much energy you need they ARE NOT a one size fits all tool.
Different people have different things which affect their energy requirements such as thyroid and other hormonal imbalances, genetics also play a part your energy requirements. How much sleep you’ve had can impact the amount you need that day. The quality of the food might even have an impact on our energy requirements. So if you’re eating what you think is a deficit and you’re not losing weight, then I’m sorry to tell you that you’re not eating in a deficit. Yes, that amount of good might be a deficit to me or to your best mate but to you, it’s not. You need to further decrease intake or increase expenditure to see your weight drop.
Is a calorie deficit as complex as people make out?
I personally think no. If you just look at your energy requirements as a scale, intake on one side and expenditure on the other, if you want to lose weight the scales need to be tipped with expenditure being higher. I think that the “fitness” influencers who are spreading rubbish are making people confused but hopefully with this post I have helped you.
Why you’re not losing weight
- your expenditure (what’s going out) is less than you think
- your intake is higher than you think
I have a friend who is 5ft, for years she was desperate to gain some weight and no matter how much she seemed to eat she just couldn’t do it, at a buffet she could eat me under a table. I genuinely don’t know where she put all that food. Looking at all her family they were all lean so she probably just had a fast metabolism from genetics. What is a surplus for some was a deficit for her (anyone else jealous of people like that haha). Over the space of a few years of eating in a surplus she managed to gain around 5-6 lbs. If she was eating the amount the online calorie calculator told her then she wouldn’t have gained weight, because while it is accurate for most it isn’t for everyone. Yes my friend is super lucky I know.
This also works the same, you might not have such lucky genetics where you can eat for Britain and not gain weight, I wish we all had that. You might just sniff a piece of cake and be heavier (jokes). So therefore if you want to lose weight you’re going to have to reduce calories more than you have (unfair I know). Remember its only going to have an impact on your health if the deficit is too large. But if you’re not losing weight then I’m afraid your not in deficit at all yet.
I really hope this helps. Leave me a comment if you need more explanation posts.
P.S. If you want to learn more about calorie deficits and where to start with losing weight then you should consider my fitness and nutrition programme. I can assure you it’s not like anything you’ll find on the internet. The Fit Girl Programme is packed full of scientific evidence, plus you’ll get me as your trainer. I’ll be there every step of the way supporting you with your goals. It’s a one off cost for a lifetime membership of content. I wrote it after finishing my BSc and have almost finishing updating it using the knowledge I gained in my MSc. I honestly think you’ll love it. You’ll also have a kick ass community of women supporting you too, that’s my favourite part.