If you’re looking for a simple, flexible diet to follow, I’m sharing my calorie deficit plan for weight loss.
If you wanna lose fat, you need to get yourself into a calorie deficit. And there are ways of doing that. That don’t require any counting.
I’ve recently done a video about losing weight without counting calories.
But in this video, I’m gonna take you through a simple process. If you are going to be tracking and monitoring your calories from day to day.
At the end, I’m gonna share some practical tips for choosing foods that are lower in calories.
Using A Calorie Counting App
So the first thing that you’ll need is an app.
Most of these apps are free. You can just put them on your phone and then you’ll have them with you wherever you go.
Some people prefer to write things down and then enter them later, either on desktop, on their phone, choose whatever works for you.
The important thing is that if you’re following a flexible dieting system (which basically allows you to eat any type of food, as long as you’re maintaining the right amount of calories in order to stay in a calorie deficit), then you’ll want to record and monitor your food as accurately as possible.
Setting Up Your Calorie Deficit
In order to figure out the right calorie deficit for you, you’ll first want to know what your maintenance calories are and the apps sometimes give you information for this. They’ll even set up a calorie deficit for you, but I don’t find that they’re very accurate. And I like to work with my own numbers.
Working Out Your Maintenance Calories
There are two ways of setting up the maintenance.
Method One For Setting Maintenance
The first one I like to do with some of my clients, particularly if they’re already used to tracking and monitoring.
We would actually just allow them to eat what they’re eating. And you can do this as well.
For one week, just record everything that you’re eating, whatever you’re taking in food and drinks, just record it.
And for that first week, you actually just wanna average the seven days in order to find out what your average maintenance calories are for the day. So total up all the calories that you had for those seven days, divide them by seven.
And you know, how many calories approximately you’re having per day try to be as accurate as possible.
Checking Your App Entries
It is sometimes tricky with the apps.
There are some numbers that might not be valid, but make sure that it seems reasonable. So if you’re looking at a muffin, that’s a pretty large muffin and it says that it’s a hundred calories and it has no fat, then that’s probably not correct.
Be very careful about the entries that you’re using.
See if they sound right, maybe check online for other sources.
So you’re not changing anything during those first seven days. You’re just figuring out what your maintenance calories are.
Method Two For Setting Maintenance
Now, the second method, if you’re counting calories is to set that target straight away.
You’re trying to find out your maintenance calories, the amount of calories that you’re currently consuming in order to maintain your weight exactly as it is.
Multiply your body weight by 13, and that would be considered your maintenance calories.
So if you weigh 200 pounds, then your maintenance calories are 2,600 calories.
Setting Up Your Calorie Deficit
Now, once you have that number, you want to reduce it by a certain amount.
And what is that certain amount?
Well, it’s gonna depend on how quickly you wanna lose weight and whether you’re adding any additional physical activity for your calorie burn, reducing your maintenance calories by about 500 calories per day is a fairly good target. 500 calories a day is 3,500 calories a week. So that’s how much you want to reduce your caloric intake in order to lose about a pound a week and that’s sensible, practical, realistic weight loss. So if you found out in that first week that you consume 2,500 calories per day on average, then you reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories and you start to set your goal for 2000 calories a day.
Adapting Your Calorie Deficit For The Weekend
Now you can of course, spread this around a little bit.
If you prefer to have a few more calories on the weekend and a little bit less during the week. That’s up to you, how you average in your calorie intake.
But it’s best to calculate that out in advance.
The Challenges Of The Weekend
A lot of people find that they consume a lot more calories on the weekends, especially if there’s alcohol involved as well, or you’re going out. A lot of foods that you eat when you’re going out are gonna have additional calories coming from fats and sauces that are a little bit more difficult to calculate than what you’re eating at home.
If you’re preparing your own food, it’s a lot easier to know the correct calorie intake. Although now many restaurants, either fast food restaurants or higher end restaurants also include calorie intake. So that can be really helpful for educating yourself about food and calories. Many people feel like they’re doing really well and following a healthy, balanced diet with the right amount of calories.
And then the weekend is not quite the same. In fact, you can consume enough calories on that Saturday, Sunday for some people, even Friday to stall your weight loss altogether. So you’ll continue to be in maintenance, but you’ve reduced your calories during the week and you bump them up on the weekends.
Don’t Restrict Yourself Too Much!
And that happens a lot when people are being too strict during the week, and then they’re feeling deprived.
So on the weekends, they’re just like, “Oh, I’m just gonna go full on or I’m gonna have a cheat meal or a cheat day”.
I’m not a huge fan of that concept of the cheat meal or the cheat day. I just feel like whatever foods that you wanna incorporate need to be part of your plant. So if you wanna have a donut every day, then you need to include that in your caloric intake and reduce your overall calories on that day.
By the amount of that donut, remember that this is only going to be an estimate. Some days you might find that you’re not able to reduce it that low because you’ve eaten too much early on. And there’s certain things that you can’t fit in. And other days, hopefully you’re able to undershoot a little bit so that things balance themselves out, but it is important to be consistent with the average over the course of the week.
Don’t Adjust Your Calories For Physical Activity
When I use the tracking apps, I don’t like my clients to add any physical activity there. They tend to overestimate how many calories you’re burning off. Although it’s important to keep track of how much activity you’re doing, how many workouts, how much walking you’re doing.
That can be helpful for the calories out. I like to focus most of the effort on controlling the calories in that’s because the calories in are a lot easier to deal with.
And they’re much more impactful.
Losing weight through exercise alone is very difficult for most people. Unless you’re an athlete, who’s working out several hours a day.
You’re not gonna be able to burn off all those calories that you can easily consume. You know, in a very short period of time.
Being Accurate With Calorie Tracking
A lot of the usefulness of this process is gonna be dependent on how accurate you are. Be careful with your weights or portion sizes. So make sure that those things are as accurate as possible.
It might mean that you need to get a scale to weigh things initially or some measuring cups. Then you can measure quarter cup or half cup servings or full cup servings. All of these things help to educate you about calories, and they’re gonna be useful for you long term.
Anyway, if you’re used to certain portion sizes, you might discover that you’ve been eating quite a lot, and you’re not aware that that many calories are being consumed with that food.
Educating Yourself With Calorie Tracking
So anytime someone’s monitoring their calorie intake, I find that it’s a very good education about food. Anytime I’ve done it myself, I’m always a little bit surprised with certain things. And now, even though I don’t track my calories, I still have an awareness of approximately how many calories something is. And that can be helpful when you’re making decisions later on.
Tips For Naturally Lowering Calorie Intake
Now, even if you’re tracking your calories, there are some habits that can be helpful in order to keep your calories on the lower end.
Focus On Vegetables And Fruit
focusing on vegetables and fruits, which are really low in calorie density. They can be a good way of keeping those calories down naturally. So if you find even a cup of broccoli, you add that to the mix. It’s not gonna be much. An apple is gonna be 80 calories. So adding more fruits and vegetables makes it easier to consume more food, but have it food that is lower in calories.
Choose Lean Proteins
Lean proteins like fish or chicken breast or lentils can help you keep your appetite under control.
So that means that you’re gonna reduce your desire to eat those treat foods that are higher in calorie density.
Reduce Your Intake Of Highly Processed Foods
These are highly processed, refined foods. Many people call them junk foods, but I like to call them treat foods. Because I like to see them as a positive thing that you have occasionally. And hopefully you have smaller amounts of those treat foods than you did prior to starting the diet.
I strongly believe that you can include nearly any food in a calorie deficit plan for weight loss.
The important thing is that you don’t have it too frequently or in too large a quantity.
I don’t really like saying moderation. It’s just managing your numbers. So they work out at the end of the day. So if you wanna have chocolate every day, you can, but you can’t have a massive bar of chocolate every day.
It’s gonna be very hard to get the nutrients from all the other foods. And we do wanna have a healthy, sustainable way of eating.
Drink Zero Calorie Beverages
Adding zero calorie beverages, starting with water, and then plain tea, plain coffee can help you manage your appetite.
And you’re not really adding any calories. So that’s not going to affect the outcome.
In fact, caffeine can help get your energy levels up, and that may make you more likely to do more exercise and move around a little bit more. And it may even make you feel a little bit more enthusiastic about the diet process.
Expending More Calories
I haven’t talked much about the calories out part of the calorie deficit plan for weight loss, but it’s helpful to walk on a regular basis. If you can squeeze in a 30 minute walk every day, that’s not only a great way of improving your health, but you’re gonna burn off a few calories there as well.
I don’t like to focus too much on that because people get to the point where they’re working out five days a week and doing half an hour walk. And then there’s only so much you can do to change it. If you’ve gotten yourself into a caloric deficit by massively increasing the amount of exercise and physical activity that you do for most people, that’s not going to be sustainable. You may get injured, you may get sick. And then all of a sudden you’re gonna be stuck because that weight is just gonna pile back on. If you haven’t managed to get your diet under control.
Focus On Nutrition Changes
So I always focus on the calories inside the food and the beverages that you’re consuming, because it’s much more sustainable that way. And then you can also add the physical activity just for a little bit of push when you need it.
Or if you feel like you’ve over eaten for a day or two, you can add a little bit of extra physical activity to kind of get you out of that sluggish feeling.
Or you can throw more physical activity into your weekend. If you feel like you’re probably gonna consume more calories.
Don’t Focus On “Burning” Off Food Calories
I never like to think about it as like burning off the food that you eat. I think that’s not a very healthy way of looking at it. And it’s not helpful to rely on an amount of exercise that is a bit too extreme for you, and it’s not going to be sustainable.
It’s more effective to focus on calories in to get you into a calorie deficit and throw in some physical activity that you really enjoy in order to just manage and balance the lifestyle.
Should You Track Calories FOREVER?
Some people choose to track and monitor their calories all the time. That’s okay if that’s practical for you.
And that’s not something that makes you get a bit obsessive, some people can be that way. They’ll start to worry. It’s like, oh, is it 40 calories or 20 calories? You don’t need to worry about the minor details. It’s the overall numbers that you’re looking at. So use tracking calories however it works best for you – short-term education or long-term weight management solution.