When it comes to losing body fat, there are tons of mythical ‘methods’ out there on the internet, such as intermittent fasting, juice cleanses, detox teas, and excessive cardio training. Sounds complicated, right? However, the answer isn’t actually complicated at all. In fact, it’s very simple, and it’s called a calorie deficit. This is the single most important thing when it comes to losing body fat.
What is a Calorie Deficit?
The only way to lose body fat is to be in a calorie deficit. A calorie deficit is when you consume fewer calories than your body requires to maintain its current weight. Put simply; it’s when you consume fewer calories than you burn. For example, if you burn 2000 calories in a day but only consume 1800 calories, then this is a deficit of 200 calories; it’s literally that simple!
On a more technical side of things, understanding BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is useful as these formulas calculate how much energy you spend per day, which allows you to set your calorie goals more effectively. (There are lots of online calculators to work these out, although it’s generally better to consult a specialist.) Once you know both of these, all you need to do is ensure your daily calorie intake is lower than your TDEE.
How to maintain a Calorie Deficit
There are several ways in which you can create and maintain a calorie deficit, so we’ve summed up our top tips below!
Strength training (with some cardio)
It won’t come as a shock to know that the best way to burn calories is to exercise (duh!) But when it comes to losing body fat, many people overload on cardio workouts and neglect the benefits of weight training. Although a cardio workout typically burns more calories than a weight-training workout, several studies have shown that you burn more calories in the hours following a weight training session compared to a cardio workout. This is because “the more muscle mass that you have, the more calories your body will burn at rest. In other words, the more muscle mass you have, the higher your metabolism will be,” explains ACE-certified personal trainer, run coach, and RYT certified yoga instructor Erika Hermsen. She also explains the benefits of incorporating HIIT workouts into your weekly routine as they “help you burn more fat & speed up your metabolism by increasing your metabolic rate DURING and AFTER your workout.”
Essentially, it’s better to mix it up and include both strength and cardio/HIIT in your workout program. (Top tip – don’t forget to take your rest days! BCAAs are a great supplement to drink during your workouts as they speed up muscle recovery and reduce soreness so that you can get the most out of your workouts every time!
Track your food
‘Calorie tracking’ can seem pretty daunting, but it’s actually super important if your goal is to lose body fat. Tracking your food using free apps such as MyFitnessPal allows you to control the ingredients you’re putting into your body and your portion sizes. It also shows where you might need to improve; for example, you might be eating too many carbs or not enough protein, so you can then make the necessary changes to meet your macro goals. (Top tip – when setting macro goals, Coach Erika Hermsen recommends starting with a “ratio of 35% protein, 35% carbs, and 30% fats.”)
Another benefit of tracking your food daily is that you’ll be able to make better and more informed decisions about foods you enjoy. To ensure you are totally accurate when calorie tracking, we recommend investing in some food scales as it’s way too easy to overestimate portion sizes!
Eat more nutritional foods
You’ve heard it all before, but a lot of it simply comes down to eating a healthier, nutrient-rich diet. This involves cutting out highly processed foods such as fast food (sorry, McDonald’s lovers), sugary drinks, and desserts, and focusing on eating nutritious, minimally processed foods instead, i.e. lean proteins, fruits, and high fiber veggies. Additionally, if you struggle with feeling hungry even after you have eaten, bulking out your meals with nutritious veggies will help keep you fuller and for much longer! However, it’s still important to be mindful of the calories of certain ‘healthy foods.’ Take avocados, for example – yes, they are nutrient-dense, but they are super calorific! So just because a food is seen as ‘healthy,’ doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want of it!
Eat enough protein
It’s important to hit your protein goals as it’s the most satiating macronutrient (a.k.a. it keeps you fuller and satisfied for longer, meaning you’re less likely to overeat or binge.) Additionally, “eating a high-protein diet will help you increase your lean muscle tissue; therefore, it will help speed up your metabolism,” says fitness Coach Erika Hermsen. If you’re struggling to meet your protein goals, why not try adding a scoop of protein into things such as oatmeal, smoothies, or breakfast pancakes? We’ve got tonnes of delicious flavors to help you on your way to feeling your best, leanest self!
Let’s be honest; sometimes, we just don’t have the time or energy to hit the gym 5 days a week. That’s why it’s important not to forget the small things that make all the difference in creating a calorie deficit. By simply making smarter choices such as choosing sugar-free over full sugar, walking or biking to work instead of driving, or even just eating a home-cooked meal instead of eating out, you can easily reach a sustainable calorie deficit = meaning healthy, sustainable fat loss! The same applies to going out on the weekends, sure we all need a night out with the girls sometimes, but one big cheat meal on a Saturday night and a few cocktails can really set you back if your goal is to lose body fat! Remember to make smarter choices, for example, opting for lower calorie meals and single measure spirits with diet sodas!
Everything in moderation
It’s important to remember that food is not the enemy when it comes to losing body fat. It’s OKAY to have a little treat now and then, and there’s no such thing as ‘bad foods’; it’s just about how you make them fit into your calorie allowance. This is why calorie-tracking apps are useful. Provided you’ve tracked everything you have eaten in a day accurately and hit your macro goals, you can confidently eat a couple of squares of chocolate, knowing that they won’t set you back on the scales the next morning!
To sum it all up, successfully maintaining a calorie deficit and healthy fat loss takes a lot of consistency, exercise, a well-planned sustainable diet, and A LOT of patience. The key thing to remember here is that losing body fat is that slow and steady wins the race! Obviously, everyone wants to see results as fast as possible; however, quick fixes and fad diets are never the answer. It’s all about making healthier, sustainable lifestyle choices and staying consistent with them.