How To Know You’re In A Calorie Deficit

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Wondering if you’re in a calorie deficit?

I’m gonna show you the signs to look for and stick around until the end, because I’ve got an important warning about the dangers of being in a calorie deficit for too long.

Hi, it’s Ivana, helping you get fit healthy and strong at any age.

I’ve done another video about how to get into a calorie deficit.

And if you follow those directions, here’s how you know it’s working.

Signs That A Calorie Deficit Is Working

The first most obvious sign is weight loss.

Now we don’t look just to the scale to find out if a calorie deficit is working, but it is a fairly clear sign.

So if you’re looking at that scale and the numbers are going down, then you know, you’re in a calorie deficit.

However, it’s I not to rely too much just on the scale. You do have normal variations in your weight from even the morning to the evening, from week to week and from month to month. Your body weight will go up and down for various reasons. It could be fluid balance. Maybe it’s fluid retention. It also depends on how much undigested food you have in that long digestive system that can make a big difference as well.

But what you wanna look for is the pattern over the course of several weeks. And when we’re talking about being in a calorie deficit, we want this to be a fairly long duration in order to see the right changes.

Be Patient To See Changes

Now, normally when I do my online coaching program, I do it in three month sections. Because there will be ups and downs for everybody’s weight. Everybody’s life has some twists and turns that happen over the course of three months.

But by the end of that period, that’s when you should notice that that calorie deficit is working. So look at this as a minimum of three months, in order to know that the calorie deficit is working. However, you might wanna make modifications from month to month, if you feel like the rate of progress is not what you’re looking for, you feel like it’s too easy and you could push yourself harder or the reverse if it’s too extreme and you don’t think that you can carry on, it’s better to have less of a calorie deficit, but create a plan that’s more sustainable for you.

Using Average Weighing

One way that I’ve used with my clients in order to monitor weight changes is to have them wait every single day, the same time in the morning, first thing, and just get an average of that week, for instance.

You’re taking your weight from Monday to Sunday. Take the average and then do it for the next week. Again, take the average. And then the third week take the average. And then you wanna see what your average weight has been the first week, the second week, and then the third week.

Then you can see if there’s been a true change. So maybe you’ve had a lot of variation each week, but if the average of your weight for each of those three weeks is exactly the same, then you’re really where you wanna be. And you’re not continuing in that calorie deficit for weight loss in general.

Is Weighing Yourself Daily A Good Idea?

I don’t think weighing yourself every day is necessarily a good thing. For some people. It really works to keep them on track. But if you worry too much about those individual numbers, then I think you’re focusing on the wrong thing. You really have to focus on the process, either the diet adjustments or any exercise that you’ve decided to do rather than the outcome.

Changes In Your Measurements

The other sign that you’re in a calorie deficit is a change in measurements. So normally I ask my clients to do at least waste and hips into of measurement.

The waist to hip ratio can give you an idea of certain risk factors for cardiovascular disease, for instance, but there may be other things that you want to measure. So some people want to see an increase or decrease in their arms or their legs. Or you can measure the mid thigh. You can measure your biceps or triceps. Whatever’s important to you in terms of your goals.

Changes In How Your Clothes Fit

the fit of your clothes can also tell you if you’re in a calorie deficit, because remember that you could be doing body recomposition where you are putting on a little bit of muscle and losing fat. So you might not see any change in the scale, but you are getting leaner. And for most people, that’s what they’re looking for.

Fat loss, not just weight loss, you don’t wanna lose weight. If that weight is not gonna come from fat and most people are okay with some more muscle. If it looks like it’s more lean because they’re losing body fat at the same time. So there wouldn’t be any weight change, but you might notice that your clothes fit differently, particularly around your waist. So maybe your belt size or where you can and notch up a belt.

That’s a pretty good indicator. And sometimes just how your shirts fit. If you feel like you can move around a little bit more, or there’s less tension in certain areas that can also be an indicator that your calorie deficit is working. Some people like to monitor with a tight pair of jeans or a tight pair of pants. If those pants are getting a little bit looser, then changes are happening and your calorie deficit is working.

Seeing Differences In The Mirror Or Progress Pictures

Seeing a difference in the mirror or in progress pictures can be an indicator that you’re in a calorie deficit. When you start the weight loss process, it’s a good idea to take some pictures of yourself. So you can see where you’re at at the beginning, and then perhaps take a weekly picture. I often have my clients do like a front and side and back because sometimes you don’t notice those changes as they’re happening.

But if you look at a picture, say at the beginning, and then another picture, six weeks down your weight loss journey, you’ll see those differences. And they’ll be much more obvious if you’re not seeing any difference in the mirror. If you’re not seeing any difference in your progress pictures, then you’re probably not in a calorie deficit and you’ll need to make some changes.

Appetite Increases

Another way to know that you’re in a calorie deficit is that your appetite increases. Now, I’m not talking about being starving hungry all the time.

That’s probably an indication that you are in too much of a calorie deficit. You should feel a little bit more hungry than you did before, because your body is trying and to maintain what we call homeostasis. So it’s just trying to stay in balance. It’s trying to stay where it is. So when you give it less food than it’s been used to, then it wants to encourage you to eat a little more.

So you get back to where you were again, and that’s something that you have to work your way through a little bit of hunger here and there is okay.

Do not go to the extremes where you’re ravenous all the time.

This does happen of course, in fitness competitors and bodybuilders when they’re preparing for a competition, but it’s not something that’s necessary for someone who’s just trying to be lean and healthy you from their own personal benefit.

My Recommendations For Calorie Deficits

I definitely don’t encourage extreme weight loss, really quick weight loss with massive calorie deficits. We’ll talk a little bit more about that in a minute. I believe in a gradual and sustainable approach so that you can maintain those results over time. You wanna be able to maintain that weight loss in a year or two years or five years or 10 years down the line. So it needs to be something that works for you long term.

Feeling Cold

Another way of knowing that you’re in a calorie deficit is that you’re feeling cold. Now this is not for all people. Some people will experience this and others will not. For some people, it’s a sign for others.

Calorie Deficit Signs Vary From Person To Person

It’s not in fact, most of the things I talked about are variable from person to person. Not everyone is gonna see all of these changes. Obviously you do eventually wanna see some changes in your weight and your measurements. If you are in a calorie deficit, you wanna lose fat. So you wanna see yourself shrinking over time, but you’re not always going to experience so much hunger and not everyone is going to experience feeling cold, especially in the extremities. The, sometimes that can be an indicator that you’re in a calorie deficit. I wanna add in something really important here as well. Please be patient. As I mentioned before, three months is a good general way of measuring things rather than looking too short term for your results.

The Dangers Of Being In Too Much Of A Calorie Deficit For Too Long

And now the dangers of being in too much of a calorie deficit for too long. Now don’t get me on here. It doesn’t mean the calorie deficit itself is a bad thing. A small calorie deficit is what you need for weight loss, but being in too much of a calorie deficit, one that’s not sustainable for you can be a problem. Some people choose to do diets. I see these crazy ones, like 800 calories a day. You can’t do that long term. And when we’re talking long term three to six months.

Side Effects From Excessive Calorie Deficit

Extreme reductions in calories over time can result in loss of sex. Drive very low energy. Losing your hair. Women can lose their periods. It’s not going to happen just because you choose to eat 200 calories less a day or even 500 calories, less a day. As long as you’re maintaining good nutrition overall, you’re getting your protein.

You’re getting your vegetables and fruit. So you have those micronutrients and your macronutrients in place, and you have a healthy diet, a small calorie reduction. Isn’t going to be a problem. It’s maintaining an extreme reduction for a longer period of time. That can be a dangerous. So please aim for a sustainable approach that can keep you healthy while achieving your weight loss goals. Please hit the like button. If this video is helpful, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments. I do my best to respond and don’t forget to subscribe and hit the bell for more evidence based weight loss information.

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 7-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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