How To Get Into A Calorie Deficit

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If you wanna lose weight, you’ll need to get into a calorie deficit.

And I’m gonna go through several different approaches to get you there.

Hey, it’s Ivana, helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age. If that sounds good to you, please consider subscribing to my channel.

What A Calorie Deficit Is

A calorie deficit means that you consume more calories than your body use is in a day. A calorie is just a unit of energy, and there are two ways of getting into a calorie deficit. You can affect the calories in or the calories out. So the calories in of course, is the food and the drinks that you’re taking in. And then you have calories out, which includes all the metabolic processes that your body needs to go through during the day. So that’s your basal metabolic rate.

Then you’ve got any exercise that you choose to do or not do as the case may be. And then you’ve got other daily movements that are also incorporated. There are other things as well.

There have small effects, like the thermic effective of food where certain types of foods burn more calories in order for your body to digest them. Now you can change what you’re eating, or you can modify the amount of calories that you’re expanding. Ideally, you’re doing both.

How Most People Aim For A Calorie Deficit

What usually happens is that people decide to clean up their diet. So they’re having fewer junk foods or treat foods. And at the same time they start exercising. S

o they’re doing this as a lifestyle change, and it’s difficult to determine which of those things is more impactful from a calorie perspective.

At the end, I’m gonna explain which of these things is actually most important to focus on.

Ways Of Getting Into A Calorie Deficit

So I’m gonna break down the ways of getting into a calorie deficit.

Now you don’t need to actually track your calories in order to reduce them. Many people confuse the idea of a calorie deficit with counting calories, because they think that in order to that, you’re in a deficit.

You need to make sure that you’re counting all of them. It is a highly effective strategy. And I’m gonna talk about that strategy, but there’s other ways that you can reduce your calories, get yourself into a calorie deficit without actively tracking and monitoring your calories with an app.

Estimating Your Maintenance Calories

Now, there are a lot of calculators on the internet that are based on certain equations that estimates your maintenance calories, and then how many calories you should be eating in order to get into a calorie deficit. They’re not my favourite choice for starting off and deciding what kind of calorie deficit you want.

Assessing Initial Calorie Intake To Get Calorie Deficit Value

What I do with a lot of my clients is that I just have them record everything that they’re eating with an app like my fitness pal for several days, maybe a week. So then you have an idea of where your calories roughly fall your maintenance calories, because that’s the way you’re eating in order to maintain the weight you’re at now.

And interestingly, just recording what you’re eating, whether it’s with an app or by writing things down can actually help naturally reduce your calorie intake. So just a little bonus tip there.

A Simple Way Of Determining Maintenance Calories

There are other ways of determining your maintenance calories so that you can figure out how to get into a calorie deficit.

It’s often easiest just to multiply your weight and pounds by 13. And that gives you a rough estimate of your maintenance calories. So if you weigh 170 pounds, then your maintenance calories are approximately 2,210 calories per day.

How Much Of A Calorie Deficit?

And then we often said, you should drop your calories by about 250 to 500 calories per day in order to lose half a pound to one pound per week. I found with most of my clients that dropping 500 calories a day is a little bit too much. It just represents too big a change from what you’re currently doing.

So I do prefer a slightly smaller calorie deficit. Maybe 200 or 300 calories less than what your current maintenance is.

That means your weight loss is gonna be a little bit more gradual. It’s gonna take a bit more time, but it’s going to be more sustainable because you’re not doing a drastic change. That is gonna be really difficult for you. But if you are tracking and monitoring, it means that you need to enter in everything that you eat, everything that you drink into an app day to day so that you know, how many calories that you’re consuming. And now remember that if you’re counting calories, they’re always just estimates. The numbers are not exactly right on the app and definitely everyone’s body burns calories at a slightly different rate over time.

You’ll get to know how many calories it takes you to maintain, and then to get yourself into a calorie deficit.

How To Adjust Your Calorie Deficit

If you follow that and track and monitor and make sure that you’re hitting that goal after about a month or so, you can determine if that’s the right level. And you’ll know that because you’ll start to see the changes that you want.

I’m gonna have a whole other video talking about how to know you’re in a calorie deficit coming up. So make sure you’re subscribed and you’ll know when that comes out.

The Habit-Based Approach To Getting Into A Calorie Deficit

Now here’s the other approach if you don’t wanna do any calorie tracking. If you don’t wanna use an app and record and monitor everything that you’re eating every day, there are certain habits that have been shown to naturally reduce your calorie intake and help get you into a calorie deficit.

Drinking Water To Get You Into A Calorie Deficit

The first is drinking more water, particularly before a meal. So if about half an hour before you are supposed to eat, if you have a glass of water, that’s been shown to reduce the amount of calories you eat in that meal.

Reduce Your Intake Of Highly Processed Foods

Reducing your intake of processed foods. Highly refined foods are sometimes called hyperpalatable foods.

And that means the things that often have a combination of fat and sugar, sometimes salt. All those things. Ice cream, donuts, muffins, chicken wings.

What else is really good?

Fries and chips and pastries, all those types of foods that most people call junk foods. I like to call all them treat foods because I like to take a positive view of food. These foods are enjoyable, even if they’re not necessarily the best choice all the time.

Highly processed foods are very easy to consume. They’re very calorie dense. So you can take it in a large amount of calories all at once without really even noticing. And that’s why reducing those processed foods can help you get into a calorie deficit.

Eating More Vegetables And Fruit

Adding more vegetables and fruit is on the opposite side of that because those are very low in calorie density. So those types of foods fill you up with fewer calories.

Getting Enough Protein

Getting enough protein can also help you get into a calorie deficit. If you’re less hungry, you won’t eat as much.

A lot of calorie reduction is about appetite management and protein fills you up. Especially if you eat it first in the meal, it often keeps you from eating more protein is also more thermogenic than fat or carbs. So your body spends more energy burning it off than it does for fat and carbs.

Eat Enough Fat

But along the same lines, it’s important to get enough fat because fat also contributes to that feeling of fullness and satiety, which keeps you from eating more later on and enjoying your current meal so that you don’t race off to have something in the hour later, a very low fat diet can make you hungry. And then you’re more likely to experience cravings and that can lead to overeating.

Is it better to focus on calories in (food) or calories out (exercise)?

Research shows us that the caloric impact of exercise is not as great as we would like for most people. Unless you’re spending to two or three hours working out six or seven days a week, like many athletes do, then they can burn off tons of calories.

But for the average person who has a job, maybe a family and a social life, it’s very difficult to do the amount of exercise that would be required to maintain and to lose weight simply through exercise alone.

For most people, the level of calorie burn that you’re gonna get through exercise alone is not going to be enough for significant fat loss.

Focusing On Nutrition For A Calorie Deficit

So in order to get into a calorie deficit, I generally recommend that people focus on the nutrition side first (if they don’t have time to focus on exercise).

Ideally you’re doing both because it does make you feel better. And then you’re more to follow that entire lifestyle. But if you want to focus on just getting into that calorie deficit as quickly as possible, focus on your nutrition first.

Let me know in the comments, how you’re planning to get into a calorie deficit and whether you’re tracking and monitoring, or just doing some habit changes.

Ivana Chapman

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Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman

Ivana Chapman BSc BA CSCS is a Canadian fitness and nutrition coach, happy wife, and mom to an energetic 8-year-old boy. She is a YouTuber, writer, published fitness model, speaker, 3rd Dan black belt in Shotokan Karate, former World Cup Karate Champion, one-time marathoner, and CBBF National level Natural Bikini competitor. She loves weight training and chocolate, not always in that order of preference.
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