Why living in a calorie deficit is not the answer for you
Updated: Dec 8, 2021
It’s known by many of us that the Energy Balance equation is the key to fat loss or muscle gain.
In regards to fat loss, it’s been preached that you must be in a calorie deficit to ensure that fat loss occurs and although this is true there are two words that need to be taken into account when preaching this….
‘IT DEPENDS’ - It depends on the individual
The number of calories that each individual can minimise in their day/week is heavily dependent on the following:
1. Body Fat %
2. Physical activity
4. Level of sympathetic nervous system dominance
These are only a few of the things that need to be taken into account when prescribing an individuals’ daily/weekly calories and therefore how low they can go before we begin to push the calorie deficit pathway too far.
There have been many cases where I have seen many of my clients living in a calorie deficit and not getting any kind of fat loss result. When I question them as to why they’ve chosen to do this their answer is quite alarming. ‘You said being in a calorie deficit is the way to lose body fat’.
This goes to show that there is a fear of eating as it will lead to fat gain. This is not healthy nor sustainable and it will never allow any individual to live a healthy and happy life.
I felt like I had created a monster so what did I do to remedy this?
I simply reminded them of the other half of the coin. That being in a calorie deficit for too long can cause the opposite of what they want to happen.
Let’s get one thing clear. When we live in a calorie deficit for anymore than 12 weeks, we WILL elicit negative adaptations and therefore stop losing body fat and potentially increase in body fat.
1. Leptin levels decrease
2. Grehlin levels increase
3. We lose muscle
4. Our stress increases
5. Our energy levels decreases
6. Our sleep quantity and quality decreases
7. Our libido decreases
8. Our mood is affected in a negative way
9. Our motivation and zest for life decreases
These are just a few but imagine these affecting us for long periods of time. This is the reality for many people who fear eating more food because ‘a calorie deficit is the only way’.
Yes it is, but not in every case. IN DEPENDS on the individual.
With people who have been living in a calorie deficit, two tools that I like to use are:
1. A Reverse Diet
2. A Refeed
These two strategies have been shown to reverse the negative adaptations of a calorie deficit and have been shown many times to get individuals to lose body fat whilst eating more food.
Crazy right? But this goes to show just how important it is to understand all aspects of the Energy Balance equation especially if we push one pathway too far.
Yours in Health,