CALORIE deficit is a term that is used a lot in the fitness industry and has been over complicated to the point where so many have given up trying to understand it. It is, simply put, consuming less calories per day or week than your body needs, thus putting you in a deficit and without any other factors considered you will lose body fat—over a sustained period.
So how do you get yourself into a deficit? Well, firstly work out your maintenance calories—the amount your body needs to survive per day even with no movement. The advised percentage that you should take off is usually between 10-15 per cent as anything lower is seen as aggressive and is not sustainable.
Protein intake is also extremely important for fat loss, muscle maintenance and the repair of tissues and organs in the body. Proteins are found in different sources of food including animal and plant-based products. In terms of fat loss, protein is high on the list due to the body having to work harder to break it down meaning that by just digesting proteins the body burns more calories than any other macronutrient. For example, the body will burn 20-35 per cent of the calories in it. This means that, for example, when 300 calories of pure protein are consumed the body will burn between 60-105 calories just digesting it. The recommended daily intake is between 1-1.6g of protein per kilogram of body weight. Depending on activity levels and exercise this may need to rise in accordance with that.
Moving more is one of the most basic ways of achieving fat loss and a higher calorie burn per day. This simple and basic concept is one that’s often forgotten about as it doesn’t look as cool or modern as going to the gym. Even if we do not exercise our bodies will still burn energy and this is made up of the following factors:
BMR—Basal Metabolic rate
This is just the energy we burn at rest, just by being in homeostasis.
TEF—Thermic effect of food
The energy we use just to break down and digest food.
EAT—Exercise activity thermogenesis
The energy expended during a planned exercise session.
NEAT—Non-exercise activity thermogenesis
The energy burned during unplanned movement such as housework, taking the stairs at work or going for a walk. NEAT is a great way to burn extra calories as it does not have to be planned or structured so it’s a lot easier to do. If you up your NEAT then chances are your fat loss will accelerate, so get moving!
Sleep is another key, but underestimated, component in the fat loss process. Here are some reasons as to why it’s needed for the fat loss process:
—When you are asleep your body is regenerating and repairing itself with no distractions, so it’s using energy as it does this.
—If we are well-rested and feeling good the next day then usually our EAT and NEAT will be at a higher level thus burning more calories.
—Being well-rested provides us with the focus to stick to our fat loss goals and the structures we have set in place.
—The more we sleep, the less time we have to spend in the kitchen late at night snacking out of boredom, adding extra calories to our day and maybe pushing us over our maintenance calories.
Being consistent and having a structure in place that suits your everyday life is so important in this process. By reducing calories to a really low mark or even getting into a poor sleep pattern can really have a detrimental effect on how you progress and may cause you to give up. Get a plan in place, write it down and stick to it! Be accountable to someone who will help and guide you on your way, plus support you when you are struggling. Always remember, that just because your weight on the scales might not be changing, it doesn’t mean your body is not.
Ciarán McMullan is a former St Enda’s Gaelic footballer and League Cup winning midfielder with Cliftonville FC. He currently works as a personal trainer in Belfast. For more information on any health and fitness related topics or to register interest in his fat loss programmes contact him on Instagram and Facebook: @CMCMfitness or drop him an e-mail: CMCMfitness@hotmail.com
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