With this being probably the most important aspect of nutrition when you want to lose fat, I will do my best to write this article in a structured, easy to follow and science based manner. Note that my results ware not entirely caused by my diet (but also training, cardio, intermittent fasting, etc).
Five years ago, after graduating I’ve noticed that I had the same body as my first high-school year. I couldn’t believe that in so many years my body haven’t change. The easiest way to describe the body I had is by using the term skinny-fat. I remember as it was yesterday: narrow shoulders, wide hips, no muscle definition and fat around my belly. The term skinny-fat means that I looked skinny with my shirt on, but fat with my shirt off. It was then when I knew that I had to do something!
And I did! Like any individual I’ve started by asking Google what I had to do. It looked like the key to loosing fat was cardio, cardio and cardio. This being said for the next 4 month I did cardio every other day and the results… well the results ware good in term of everything else but loosing fat. I put it all on my genetics and stooped the whole process.
About two and a half years ago, I’ve got motivated again and started reading about nutrition, training, calories, intermittent fasting and I got some great results in the process:
Calorie deficit to lose fat
Well, this is the most important thing when it comes to losing fat! Just to put it into perspective I’ve found some interesting statistic about the popularity of the term “calorie deficit” in the past 15 years:
The calorie deficit belief is based upon the first law of thermodynamics, but is rather complicated to formulate it this why.
First of all, a calorie is a measurement unit for energy found in each macro nutrient that we are getting from food: fats have 9 calories per gram, carbohydrates and proteins have 4 calories per gram. Our bodes uses this energy in order to function. If the number of calories exceed the body’s needs, the energy is stored as fat (so we get fat), if the number of calories is lower than the body’s needs, it will access the existent fat storage and turn the fat into energy (so we lose fat).
So, in order to lose fat there are two variable that we can play with:
- how many calories we are eating (diet).
- how many calories we are consuming (exercise).
There are a lot of studies on the subject and all of them are proving that calorie deficit is the only way to loose fat. Just an example, a study from 2007 found that “… independently of the method for weight loss, the negative energy balance alone is responsible for weight reduction.” – Source -> https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18025815.
This study shows that independent of the method you are using: fasting, keto, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, eating 100% clean or eating 100% junk food when it comes to loosing fat, the diets are only working because you are directly or indirectly creating a caloric deficit.
My favorite example is a professor from Kansas that lost 27 pounds by only eating Oreo cookies and Doritos, by creating a calorie deficit. Source -> http://edition.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/11/08/twinkie.diet.professor/index.html.
How to implement it
First of all, you have to approximate how many calories does your body need in order preserve your current weight. There are a lot of calculators on the internet but I like to keep it simple, you just need to multiply your current weight in kilograms with:
29-30 – If you have a sedentary job and you have almost no physical activity
31-32 – If you have a sedentary job but you are going to the gym 3-4 times per week and walk at least 30 minutes per day.
33-34 – If you have an active job, you train and walk a lot.
For example, a person weighing 80 kg will have to eat 80 kg x 31 = 2480 calories per day in order to maintain the current weight.
For loosing 500 g of fat per week this person have to create a 3500 weekly deficit, that means 500 calories per day. So he has to eat around 200 calories per day.
You can track the number of calories you are eating using the app My Fitness Pal.
Have a great day and stay motivated in order to become the best version of yourself!