Instagram fitness sensation Courtney Black (@courtneydblack) reveals all we need to know about calorie deficit, plus her top tips on how it can help you lose weight safely
A calorie deficit is quite simply where you consume less calories (via food) than you burn (via energy).
We burn calories in the form of breathing, eating, sleeping and digestion, as well as creating a calorie deficit through exercise and physical activity such as walking, running, cycling, gym class – you get the picture.
But what is calorie deficit used for? A sensible calorie deficit is an effective and sustainable tool for anyone looking to lose weight the healthy way.
In fact, studies have shown that a healthy and sustainable calorie deficit can also promote lower and healthy cholesterol, blood sugar levels and inflammation.
an effective and sustainable tool for anyone looking to lose weight
I would never advise staying in a calorie deficit for too long as it can cause your progress to eventually plateau and your maintenance calories to be lowered.
Instead I would advise, once you have reached your target weight, start to slowly increase your calories by 50 to 100 a week, and work towards your maintenance goal, this is the amount of calories you need a day to stay the same.
A calorie deficit is not suitable for someone who is or has struggled with eating disorders or being underweight. It is also not advised if you are pregnant or trying for a baby as it can impact fertility levels. If you are unsure on whether a calorie deficit is safe or advised please consult your doctor.
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How can we work out what our ideal calorie deficit would be?
The formula for calculating a calorie deficit is: calorie deficit = calorie in – calorie out
To use this calculation you need to know the amount of calories you require based on your height, weight, goal, age and activity level.
My app – The Courtney Black App – works this all out for you. It will also work out your target calories for a calorie deficit if you have selected weight loss as your goal.
Tip #1 Exercise can make your calorie deficit easier
Many people wonder whether you’re still able to out when in a calorie deficit and the answer is absolutely yes, providing you have calculated a sensible and realistic calorie deficit for your individual needs.
If your calorie deficit is too great you’ll soon lack the energy and strength needed to get through a workout. On the other hand, working out can also help add to your calorie deficit as you will be burning more calories via active energy.
exercising is essential for more than just weight loss
This means you’re able to be less restrictive with your diet as it isn’t your only calorie deficit tool.
What’s more, exercising is essential for more than just weight loss. It has enormous benefits for our everyday mental health and wellbeing, as well as improving our metabolism, bone and joint health, general health and longevity of life.
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Tip #2 High volume foods will help keep you fuller for longer
It is always a good idea to focus on high volume foods when it comes to a calorie deficit, as these foods will help to keep us fuller for longer.
A calorie deficit can be difficult, especially for those who are used to eating bigger portions. That’s why it’s important to be patient, consistent and let your body adjust while still eating the foods you enjoy and love. Ultimately, you might feel hungrier than normal at first while your body is going through this change.
Always focus on high fibre, high protein, high volume and satiating foods with plenty of whole grains and legumes that you can really load up on and fill your plate with.
you might feel hungrier than normal at first
After some time, adjustment and effective meal choices you should not be feeling hungry if your deficit is healthy and sustainable.
If you are still finding it difficult after a while – feeling constantly tired, hungry and lethargic it is likely that you have dropped your calories too much too soon or you are being too restrictive.
A calorie deficit need not mean missing out on the foods you love, it just takes a little more careful planning.
Foods you should be focusing on include:
- egg whites,
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Tip #3 Track your calories weekly as well as daily
A calorie deficit needs to be calculated and actioned throughout the whole week to be effective.
Always look at your calories as weekly numbers. Why? Because aiming for an overall deficit across the week will allow for more flexibility in your day to day.
If you create a deficit of 500 calories a day that is 3500 across the whole week, meaning you can account for weekends and it doesn’t matter if you go slightly over one day and under another.
Focus on a range of calories rather than a set number, for example if your target is 2000 calories, aim for 1900 to 2100, some days you might be hungrier than others, this allows for extra snacks and a bit extra of what you fancy on those hungrier days.
you have to live your life while sticking to your goal
If you are extremely disciplined throughout the week and then binge on takeaways all weekend, it is likely that your hard word will have all been undone.
Instead of restricting throughout the week and going all in at the weekend, be more creative with your meals throughout the week, incorporate the foods you love and opt for healthy alternatives at the weekend. The CB App has hundreds of ‘fakeways’ you can enjoy well within your deficit.
Remember life is always about balance and it is there to be enjoyed, there will be some occasions where you slip up and sticking to your deficit is just not realistic. We are all only human and be sure to remember that you have to live your life while sticking to your goal!