Tis the Season for Losing Wight!
The "New Year" is definitely the time when most people make their resolutions, the most popular of which is by far to LOSE WEIGHT! Unfortunately, most people go about it completely the wrong way! Contrary to popular belief the key to SUSTAINABLE weight loss is NOT to start working out and to STARVE yourself!
So if you’ve decided you want to lose weight and you immediately think “I need to eat less,” you’re not wrong, but it may not be the best place to start. If you are a person who has often tried “eating fewer calories” to lose weight and felt miserable or ended up “yo-yo’ing” back and forth between weight loss and weight gain, this may be an indicator that you need to need establish (or re-establish) healthy habits at BASELINE rather than under the stress of caloric deficit.
What is Caloric Deficit?
A caloric deficit is when we eat fewer calories than we expend in a day (calories in VS calories out). Generally, expending more than we take in is an agreed upon way to lose weight…until it’s not (take this too far and your body’s metabolism will slow down, your recovery and performance will tank, and you’ll feel like shit).
At maintenance you consume enough calories to match your daily caloric needs to simply exist – you can calculate your # here! and your weight should trend neither up nor down by more than a couple pounds. So, why would eating & living at “maintenance” help you reach body composition goals?
Playing with caloric volume is just ONE variable that often gets used and abused. There are more factors to body composition. Imagine your body composition is like a chess board. If you memorize an exact sequence of movements, you MIGHT win a game, if you’re lucky. But until you understand the principles of how to play; like how each piece moves on the board, how to use a pawn effectively, how to make strategic sacrifices for the long term gain, you’ll never actually be PLAYING chess.
Weight loss is a lot like that. If you don’t understand how to keep yourself at maintenance, it means you don’t understand how to manipulate a variety of variables that you will need to understand in order to successfully execute a “cut”. In essence, you don’t understand the principles of how to play the “game” of weight loss or body composition.
The Benefits of Living at Maintenance
Some benefits of establishing a good baseline at “maintenance”:
A decrease in high food focus or anxiety about going out
You’ll learn to be less impacted mentally and emotionally by scale fluctuations
You feel satiated on a regular basis
You won’t stress about food 24/7 or feel hungry all the time (because you’re matching your energy needs)
Momentary dietary “blips” like a high carb day or less nutritious meal, causes less stress because you know how to balance out carbs/protein/fat on another day to stay on track in the bigger overall picture of that week or month
You’ll have learned the principles you need to build a healthy plate and sustain your energy i.e. – you know what it takes to fuel “living your best life” or live at “baseline”. From there, you have a better understanding of how to fluctuate above or below baseline.
You Don’t Need to Suffer!
Four to 6 months of consistent simple healthy habits spent at a “maintenance calories and lifestyle” can have a huge impact on weight and health and reaps many “easy gains”. Maximize these easy gains before you jump into more extreme caloric deficits to meet your body composition goals. They call this “earning the cut”, and it includes building habits such as:
Eating enough protein (Click on this link to learn more about how much protein you should be eating https://youtu.be/s7E7R54MoJI )
Increasing training (focused around strength training)
Increase cardiovascular activity
These variables are like different chess pieces. Learn how moving one is different from moving another, and how each impacts you uniquely. Changing only the # of calories you eat is like trying to win a chess game by only moving the bishop. Consider all the pieces you have at your disposal to “win!” The 4-pillars of health are a pretty solid place to start – nutrition / movement / sleep / stress!
If you THINK you’re already crushing all of these things and you’ve “earned the cut”, I urge you to confirm it by actually tracking how many calories you eat in a day/week (we recommend using the free Fit Bit app. to do this) and make sure you’re not over/under your maintenance. More info on “tracking” below.
Some final quick and dirty talking points from the podcast that stood out to me include:
Moderate deficits will be more successful than extreme deficits.
Take stock of how a deficit impacts your recovery (you may need more).
Deficits are a form of stress on your body. You may need to decrease HIIT exercise and focus on hypertrophy strength training and walking when in a deficit to not over-stress the body (“stressed” is a less than ideal state when going for body composition changes).
Some people need to learn to say “no” to things (“I am able to refrain from eating any cookies”).
Some people need to learn to say “yes” to things and not feel guilty about it (“I can have one cookie, not the whole box”).
The last supper mentality (“I can never have this”) is usually not beneficial.
Body composition goals respond well to hypertrophy focused training (training focused on building lean muscle).
Low carb diets on top of high volume HIIT training can be inflammatory (re: stress).
The long way is the short way. Do it once rather than having to repeat and re-do.
Be Bold Excel Fitness Nutrition Program
We are interested to know what your experience with weight loss, calories, or simply your relationship to food is like! Send us your comments and experience. We have helped hundreds of regular people just like you dial in their nutrition and achieve their desired body composition and we can help you too! If you would like a complementary consultation please do not hesitate to contact us!