There are many approaches to losing weight. However, no matter what lifestyle change, dieting plan or exercise regime you adopt, you’ll have to understand that all of these are related to calories in, and calories out.

Weight loss is heavily associated with calories. So understanding how calories work within your body, is the key to your weight loss success.

But don’t be mistaken, calories may be the best increment to monitor weight loss, but things like nutrients, sleep, hormone levels are also essential and fundamental factors in weight loss you need to know.

If you understand what a caloric deficit is and how to use it to your advantage in your weight loss journey, you’ll be able to better structure your diet, lifestyle changes and exercise to reach your targets efficiently and safely.

What is a Caloric Deficit?

A Caloric deficit is being able to burn more calories than you consume in a day. This would mean you will have to exercise more and eat less.

If you exercise less on some days, then you’ll have to eat less on those days. The opposite of this is caloric surplus.

This is when you consume more calories than you can burn in a day. This results in weight gain. This is how you work it out.

Calories Consumed < Calories Burned = Caloric Deficit

Calories Consumed > Calories Burned = Caloric Surplus

For example, if you consume 3000 calories and burn 3140 calories on that day, you will be at a caloric deficit of 140 calories. This will lead you to a weight loss of a kilo a week should you do this on a daily basis.

If you consume 3000 calories but only burn 2000 calories on the day, this leaves you at a caloric surplus of 1000. This will result in a weight gain of 1 kg on that day.

However, keep in mind, that there are right ways and wrong ways to achieve caloric deficits, and if you aren’t approaching it safely and properly, this can result in many negative effects on your health.

Doing It Safely

Though a caloric deficit may sound simple on paper, this doesn’t mean that you should start eating less and training like there’s no tomorrow.

The human body needs a certain amount of calories for the body to function correctly and provide energy for the brain to think and for the body to perform simple everyday tasks.

Though you may want to limit the number of calories you consume during your weight loss period, make sure you’re still getting enough to maintain good health.

As every person is different, it’s important to understand the advice of your dietitian, medical health practitioner, or your fitness instructor if you have one.

Here are some helpful things you should and shouldn’t do when approaching a caloric deficit lifestyle.

You Should:

Stay hydrated

It’s essential to maintain hydration during this period to support the brain, muscles, joints, and bones.

Get plenty of rest

During this time you may feel unusually fatigued or tired. Because you aren’t getting as many nutrients as you usually would and getting more physical exercise to burn calories, make sure you rest and sleep. Conserve as much energy as you can.

Eat foods that are high in nutrients

When you do get the opportunity to eat, pick the right foods. You can eat foods that make you feel full but aren’t calorically dense. Stick to foods that are low in calories but high in vitamins and minerals. Fruits, fresh vegetables, lean meats, and supplements are perfect for any dieting plan.

Record your daily eating and exercising

Try to calculate how many calories you are burning and consuming. By doing this, you’ll be able to know your limit, plan your meals and training and record your progress. Many online apps can help you manage this.

Build up your muscles

By developing muscles during caloric deficits, this will give you more strength in the long term making your caloric deficit easier to handle as caloric deficits are very energy consuming. Building muscles will also help to accelerate fat loss by boosting your metabolism if that’s what you’re aiming to do.

You Shouldn’t

Don’t overtrain

During caloric deficits, you’ll notice that you will have low levels of energy because you’re eating less and training more than you usually would. If you’re lifting heavier weights or running a little faster than you usually would, don’t. Even though high-intensity training burns more calories, it’s not worth injuring yourself.

Don’t starve yourself

It’s very tempting to cut down as many calories as possible to achieve goals sooner. However, by doing this, you deprive yourself of getting the nutrients your body needs to function. Calculate your goals and make sure they’re realistic.

Don’t make assumptions

Be sure to record your calorie consumption and expenditure. If you aren’t accurate with your calculations, your results will vary. You may end up overeating or cutting far too many calories to be considered healthy. Download an app or record your progress to make sure you’re doing it correctly.

Do it as needed

If you consider yourself at a healthy level and don’t know if you need to be at a caloric deficit or surplus, then calorie maintenance is most suitable for you. This means you keep the number of calories burned and consumed at the same level. There is no need to eat or train more or less than you should.

Always remember the primary goal of caloric deficits. You shouldn’t see it as losing weight but as a means of improving your general health.

If a caloric deficit results in the deprivation of nutrients or decreasing strength and brain function, then you’re either doing it incorrectly or shouldn’t be doing it at all.

In saying that, if your goal is to lose weight, counting calories is the best way to implementing and tracking your dieting and exercise program. As every person and body is different, make sure you seek the advice of a dietician or medical practitioner.

Head over to the Okadoc app to immediately book an appointment with your health practitioner.