Calorie deficit for weight loss

Granatapfel Müsli

Weight loss myths - This is how losing weight really works

In our society, the myths surrounding weight loss are greater than those surrounding any other topic. But are these myths justified? There seem to be more ways to lose weight than there are proverbs leading back to Ancient Rome, and there are often completely contrary statements about individual nutrients and their properties. Typical questions that arise are:

  • Should I put away the scales or weigh myself every day?
  • Should I “breakfast like a king” or skip breakfast altogether?
  • Should I fast for whole days or will that harm my metabolism?
  • Does fat make you fat or is it the carbohydrates?

With such an overload of information it is easy to lose the wood for the trees. Especially since the above questions can all be answered with “it depends…”. You can be rest assured there is no “one fits all” solution. Many people claim to have found the holy grail of weight loss but that’s probably only because they have had success with that approach. Rather than concentrating on personal success stories (“I’ve done it, so you can do it this way too”) we should focus on what it is about these methods that is transferable and works across the board.

This article focuses on the scientific behind weight loss. The fact that stands out above all others is calorie deficit: without a calorie deficit you cannot and will not lose weight.

To lose 1kg of fat, you need to save about 7000kcal. We recommend a daily calorie deficit of 300-500kcal.


What is a calorie deficit?

Upfit intolerance diagnosis

A calorie deficit is the condition of a body being supplied with less energy than it needs. If a body is in this state over a long period of time, it turns to previously established reserves to fill the gap.

The body has energy reserves mainly in the form of body fat, but the muscles are also a form of reserve. In addition, there are even smaller stores of carbohydrates in the muscles, liver and brain.

The calorie deficit, or energy deficit, is therefore the decisive trigger for your body to start to reduce its reserves i.e. lower your body weight. But when exactly is the calorie deficit sufficient to lose weight?

The energy balance as a basis

The answer to this question is provided by the energy balance equation. Similar to the way a company’s accounts department sets income against expenditure to determine its profit, the energy balance equation sets your energy consumption against your energy use. Everything you eat and drink is included in your energy intake as calories, while your daily consumption is included in your energy consumption through normal bodily functions and exercise. This results in a simple comparison:

If through your activity you use up more energy than you consume, you are in an energy deficit.

In order to draw up an energy balance you need two figures: the amount of energy you need, i.e. how many calories you burn and the amount of energy you consume, i.e. how many calories you consume through food.

How do I calculate my energy requirement?

Measuring energy demand is a complex science that has to be carried out in a laboratory with scientific equipment. Fortunately, however, the question of energy requirement is not a new one. There are formulas that use various data about a person and their activity level to calculate the requirement very accurately. A very precise calculation of the energy requirement is therefore possible without needing to use the Harris-Benedict formula. In order that you don’t have to do these complex calculations for yourself, we have a calorie calculator for you

How do I calculate my calorie intake?

You shouldn’t just check your calorie intake with your thumb by calculating what you are eating. Instead, you should keep a meticulous record of everything you eat and drink. A large-scale study has shown that people who want to lose weight underestimate the calories they eat, while people who want to gain weight overestimate their calorie intake. The only thing that really helps is an accurate measurement.

One method is to keep a food diary. Once a week you can then, with the help of a nutrition database, you can calculate your calories for the individual days.

It’s easier to record your diet directly in an app with a calorie counter function. Nowadays, there are a lot of apps that give you a good evaluation of your nutrition with a few inputs.

A third option is to take your requirements into account when you are planning your meals, so that if you eat strictly according to plan, you will automatically end up with a calorie deficit. This is how the Upfit weight loss nutrition plans work. Just shop according to an automated shopping list, prepare your meals and you don’t need to worry about anything else.

With each of these three variants there is one real danger: the danger of self-deception. Complete calorie counting via diary or app is just as safe as following our plans strictly: If all data is correct – both in the energy demand calculator and in the recording of meals – success is guaranteed.

Nutrition is like a marriage: you cannot cheat and expect it to work.

When do I have a negative energy balance?

With each of these three variants there is one real danger: the danger of self-deception. Complete calorie counting via diary or app is just as safe as following our plans strictly: If all data is correct – both in the energy demand calculator and in the recording of meals – success is guaranteed.

But beware: just as a company needs to produce a regular set of account, you also need to do this calculation regularly. Losing weight effects your calorie requirements, so you should regularly check your balance, otherwise your weight loss may stagnate.

Upfit nutritional plans are progressive and take your changing calorie requirements into account. Hence they prevent your weight loss from stagnating.

Influences on the energy balance

At first glance, the energy balance is a simple plus and minus calculation. But there are things that can help you achieve a negative energy balance…and things that do the exact opposite.

Top 10 Do’s for a negative energy balance:

  1. Drink plenty of still water (3-5L)
  2. Eat fiber
  3. Eat at least 20g protein in each meal
  4. Do a lot of sport
  5. Move around as much as possible in everyday life (take the stairs instead of the lift, use the bicycle instead of the car)
  6. Eat freshly prepared meals from natural ingredients
  7. Go to bed early and sleep 8-10 hours
  8. Actively work on reducing your stress
  9. Surround yourself with people who support you
  10. Use visual aids (signs, photos) to remind you of your goal

Top 10 Dont’s for creating a calorie deficit:

  1. Drinking juices, spritzers and soft drinks
  2. Drinking alcohol (meeting with friends for “1” beer, wine or cocktail)
  3. Eating ready meals, baked goods and fast food (inparticluar combining fatty and sugary foods)
  4. Staying up late and getting little sleep
  5. Spending evenings on the sofa watching TV with snacks (especially after an office day)
  6. Eating chocolate or other sweets as an “energy snack” at work
  7. Going shopping on an empty stomach
  8. Procrastinating (“I’ll start tomorrow”)
  9. Looking for excuses (“Healthy eating doesn’t fit in with my lifestyle right now”, “I have to eat/drink with them”, “the others do that too”, etc.)
  10. Self-delusion (“It’s just a cookie, it doesn’t count”, “I did the shopping, that basically counts as a workout right?”)

The metabolism - the myths and truths

Start running

When people write or talk about losing weight, you will often hear the word metabolism being mentioned. The metabolism seems to be a nebulous structure that collapses or suffers a malfunction at every small mistake. We can reassure you: that is not the case! In the following you will learn some facts about metabolism and which statements are simply myth.

What is the metabolism?

Metabolism refers to the sum of all the processes in the human body: the building and decomposing, as well as replacement and maintenance of the body substances. This includes all physical (transport) and chemical processes (transformation) that our body carries out on chemical substances and substrates. Respiration is therefore a metabolic process just like muscle building or weight loss.

Effects of a calorie deficit on the metabolism

First of all, a calorie deficit ensures that your body adjusts its metabolism to the “break down” mode. If there is not enough energy coming in from outside sources, then the body has to attack its own reserves to have enough energy available for all its processes. If you are in a state of calorie deficit over a longer period of time, your body tries to adapt to the lower energy intake. It tries to reduce your energy consumption so that the supplied energy is sufficient. Is this the often quoted hunger metabolism where the metabolism falls asleep? The answer is: no!

Can the metabolism "fall asleep"?

The answer is already at the end of the last section, but why do so many people report on it? As explained earlier, your body will try to adapt if you give it less energy than it currently needs. But that doesn’t mean that it will shut down any process at will and suddenly it won’t use any more energy. Every process in the body needs energy: breathing, digestion, detoxification, cell renewal, exercise and many more, just to name a few. So your body tries to slow down processes that are not essential to life and at the same time reduce large energy consumers if possible. Only in the last resort, in the case of long-term, severe malnutrition, does the body also switch off such processes – for example in the case of anorexic patients in the life-threatening stage. Such developments are not to be expected in a normal weight loss process.

What actually happens when you lose weight is that your body reduces your urge to move by reducing dopamine in the striatum, so that you get up less often and move less. This also reduces small, involuntary movements, such as bobbing your foot or drumming your fingers, which all contribute to energy consumption. Other small processes and activities can also be turned down a little; a reduction in muscle tone still has an effect on energy consumption. In total, the body can reduce its consumption in this way by up to 8-9% in phases compared to the standard value, in the long term only by about 4%. In addition, calorie consumption through sport can be lowered due to lower training frequency and intensity. This is also helped by the release of toxins that enter the circulation through the emptying of fat stores when losing weight. Thus, minor infections are not uncommon and these have an additional negative effect on exercise behaviour. Ultimately, your body not only breaks down fat but also muscles when you lose weight. However, your muscles consume a lot of energy both when you are moving and when you are at rest, so over time your energy consumption will decrease as you lose weight. However, your energy consumption is then usually not lower than that of another person of the same weight, whether they have lost weight or not.

All these factors taken together can easily give the impression that your metabolism is failing you and that no further weight loss can be induced despite eating little food. However, the metabolism has little to do with this. Instead, you should consider a few points when losing weight so that you don’t get the impression that all your efforts are in vain. So how can you prevent your body from outwitting you?

Top 5 tips against the weight loss plateau

  1. Force yourself to always do shorter distances on foot or by bike
  2. Take regular exercise according to a fixed weekly schedule, especially strength training
  3. Eat enough protein (approx. 2g / kg body weight)
  4. Check your calorie intake regularly
  5. Calculate your energy requirements regularly

You should make sure that you get enough exercise in everyday life, even if you have to force yourself to take the stairs instead of the lift. You should also do weight training at least twice a week and eat enough protein. In this way you maintain a large part of your muscles and your energy consumption remains higher, making it easier to maintain a calorie deficit. Nevertheless, you should also keep control of your diet and not rely on the vague feeling of “little”. At this point, we would like to remind you once again of the fact that people who want to lose weight usually underestimate their own calorie intake considerably.

Are all calorie deficits equal?

As you have already seen from the example of protein, even with a calorie deficit it is not completely irrelevant what you eat. Of course, theoretically any calorie deficit can lead to success, but the question is: how? Studies show that a calorie reduction with a high protein content and few carbohydrates leads to a lower quitting rate than a diet with a high amount of carbohydrates and little protein. In addition, there is the above-mentioned mechanism by which high protein consumption combined with strength training largely maintains your muscles. Thus, for two people who have lost the same amount of weight, a person with a higher protein intake and strength training will have lost significantly more fat. Besides the performance, this is above all expressed visually: 1kg fat takes up considerably more space than 1kg muscles. The person combining protein with strength training is therefore going to be stronger and slimmer than the other person.


The best nutrient distribution for losing weight

Fruit and nut muesli

According to these scientifically based findings, we design your nutrient distribution in such a way that, in addition to an adequate calorie deficit, you can be assured that you are getting an optimal supply of macro and micro nutrients. In addition to an adequate supply of protein, healthy fats, vitamins and minerals, and by avoiding single and double sugars, the following areas also have an influence on health and satiety and thus on losing weight.


Calorie density, volume and saturation

With regard to the feeling of satiety, there are a few things which are easy to influence:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Supply sufficient dietary fibre
  • Opt for foods with low calorie density

In addition to the supply of the necessary nutrients, the volume of the food represents another important factor for satiety. An easy way to fill your stomach is to drink lots of water (or other liquids without significant calories and artificial ingredients). Fiber is also very helpful, it swells up in the digestive tract, which contributes to satiety. At the same time, dietary fibre nourishes our intestinal bacteria and thus contributes to a good intestinal flora and our health. However, you should avoid foods that have high calories in a small volume. This is especially true for processed foods that are low in micronutrients and therefore doubly harmful to your health. Despite their high calorie density, oils and nuts should be eaten on a regular basis (albeit in moderation), as they contain valuable essential fatty acids.


Conclusion

If you want to lose weight, make it as easy as possible for yourself with a few simple tricks. You can’t get around the fact that you need a calorie deficit to lose weight, but you can achieve this deficit more easily by exercising regularly, especially through weight training, drinking lots of water and eating a diet rich in fibre, protein, energy and nutrients. This way, you will maintain muscle mass, increase your calorie consumption and feel full without consuming many calories – the perfect combination to easily achieve a negative energy balance and thus lose weight.


Sources

  1. A.J. Nordmann, A. Nordmann, M. Briel et al.: Effects of Low-Carbohydrate vs Low-Fat Diets on Weight Loss and Cardiovascular Risk Factors: A Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Arch International Medicine, 166 / 13.02.2006, Issue 3, S. 285 – 293.
  2. I. Shai, D. Schwarzfuchs, Y. Henkin et al.: Weight Loss with a Low-Carbohydrate, Mediterranean, or Low-Fat Diet, New English Journal of Medicine, 359 / 2008, S. 229 – 241.
  3. L. Johansson, K. Solvoll, G.E. Bjorneboe, C.A. Drevon: Under- and Overreporting of energy intake related to weight status and lifestyle in a nationwide sample, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 68 / 1998, Issue 2, S. 266 – 274.
  4. B. Amirkalali, S. Hosseini, R. Heshmat, B. Larijani: Comparison of Harris Benedict and Mifflin-St Jeor equations with indirect calorimetry in evaluating resting energy expenditure.
  5. S. Toubro, T.I. Sörensen, B. Rönn, N.J. Christensen & A. Astrup: Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure: the role of body composition, thyroid status, sympathetic activity and family membership, The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 81 / 2013, Issue 7
  6. R. Weinsier, G. Hunter, P. Zuckerman, D. Redden, B. Darnell & D. Larson: Energy expenditure and free-living physical activity in black and white women: comparison before and after weight loss, American Journal of Clnical Nutrition, 71 / 2000, S. 1138 – 1146
  7. J. Amatruda, M. Statt, S. Welle: Total and resting energy expenditure in obese women reduced to ideal body weight, Journal of Clinical nvestigation, 92 / 1993, S. 1236 – 1242
  8. L.M. Redman, L.K. Heilbronn, C.K. Martin, L. de Jonge, D.A. Williamson, J.P. Delany & E. Ravussin: Metabolic and behavioral compensations in Response to caloric restriction: implications for the maintenance of weight loss, online unter: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0004377
  9. M. Rosenbaum, J. Hirsch, D.A. Gallagher & R.L. Leibel: Longterm persistance of adaptive thermogenesis in subjects who have maintained a reduced body weight, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 88 / 2008, S. 906 – 912.

More exciting articles