Okay, weight loss may not be so important to some bodybuilders because they are lucky enough to be naturally lean and slender without doing much cardio. But unfortunately, a large proportion of active bodybuilders or gym goers are facing a constant battle against body fat.
From my own experience, I have focused heavily on building muscle at the expense of staying lean because let’s face it, it’s much easier and quicker to see results when trying to build muscle than losing fat.
I’ve struggled with fitting in cardio days into my week because I felt it was better to miss one of these than a weights the day, because the way I work is if I miss a body part and in order to avoid disruption to my training plan, I will train that part of the following week.
My weight loss finally clicked into gear when I went back to the drawing board and had a bit of a Eureka moment. At the end of the day, it is common sense that in order for you to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume, and it’s as simple as that. That’s the bottom line, and if you’re serious about losing weight, you can’t lose sight of that fact.
This article is designed to show you how to create a calorie deficit to help you to lose weight by helping you achieve a greater understanding of Basal Metabolism Rate, your Total Daily Energy Expenditure, and finally, Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
The idea behind creating a calorie deficit is the aim to burn more calories than you plan to consume. For instance, if you consume 1500 cal a day, you must burn more than 1500 cal. There are a number of ways you can do this, and going to the gym is the most obvious one. A workout in the gym can help you burn up to 600 cal, which is a lot in the grand scale of things. But by burning 600 cal, you still have 900 cal to burn in order to get even, so how are you supposed to get around this?
Creating a Calorie Deficit
The simple way to do this is to eat less, and I can’t emphasize this enough. By eating less than you burn daily will eventually oblige your body to burn energy from fat. Sounds simple right? As with everything, theory is a lot easier than practice, and the same applies to creating a calorie deficit because it is imperative to understand how the body uses calories for repair and energy.
Creating a calorie deficit is not as simple as eating healthy foods you need to understand how to predict how much energy your body will use on a daily basis through ordinary daily movements as well as with the addition of exercise sessions.
Calculating Your Total Energy Expenditure
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, there are three factors that you need to be aware of to help you fully grasp the concept of creating a calorie deficiency:
- Basal Metabolic Rate
- Total Daily Energy Expenditure
- Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis
Basal Metabolic Rate
This describes what you burn whilst resting. This is something you burn every day no matter what you are doing. This is the energy needed to keep you alive and functioning. Even if you were to stay in bed all day doing nothing, your body would still need a certain amount of energy to keep it going.
Many of us focus on activities such as cardio, walking, running, and general training when thinking about burning calories. Although those activities do burn calories, our bodies need calories to keep us alive. All the organs inside your body need calories to keep them functioning in a normal and healthy manner.
Even the brain needs glucose to help keep it ticking. Your stomach needs calories to enable it to digestive food. Your heart needs calories to keep it beating keeping you alive. Your skin and skeletal structure need calories to help them repair.
Total Daily Energy Expenditure
This refers to your basal metabolic rate as well as additional energy that is expended on top of the energy needed to help keep the body fully functional. Everyday daily tasks are such as brushing your teeth, getting out of bed, making food, going for a stroll in the park, are all included in the total daily energy expenditure definition.
All this extra activity is fuelled by calories, and you need to increase your calorie intake to help your body cope with the extra demands. For instance, say you’re weight training four times a week; your total daily energy expenditure will clearly increase when compared against your basal metabolic rate.
I recommend using a total daily energy expenditure calculator like this one. Not only will this give you a better understanding of total daily energy expenditure, it will help you visualize where you are currently and where you need to be.
Admittedly, these activity calculators are not entirely accurate, and if you’ve used one already you’ll understand what I mean. Sometimes your actual daily expenditure might not be perfectly in line with the amount of suggested energy given by a calculator.
So instead of relying too much on these calculators, I recommend using them as a starting point and over time you can make adjustments in accordance with real life.
The basic rule is that if you eat in accordance with your maintenance calorie level suggested by a calculator and you happen to lose weight, you will need to increase your food intake. On the other hand, if you gain weight going by the calculator’s recommendations, you have to decrease your food intake.
Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis
This refers to the energy used for everything a person does whilst not sleeping, eating partaking in any exercise. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis can vary from person to person. You can put two people with identical lifestyles together and they could have extremely different energy requirements.
Besides metabolic differences, the amount of food they require to maintain their existing weights depends heavily on non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Little factors like fidgety behavior or shaking a leg while sitting down all contribute.
Some people find it very hard to sit still, whilst others prefer nothing more than being couch potatoes all day. Non-exercise activity thermogenesis and massively impact energy expenditure provided it doesn’t negatively affect a person’s daily routine.
Instead of driving to work you walk instead and you are likely get up from your desk to have a stretch and little wonder. You will burn more calories than somebody who drives to work and doesn’t move from their desk all day.
How Fat Is Lost
The simple answer is creating a negative energy balance. Your energy intake through eating food, and your energy outtake, what you use, and your personal and unique “maintenance level” intake are all tangibles that help you lose fat. In other words, in order for you to lose fat, you need to be calorie deficient. So by the time you get to the end of the day, you should have a negative energy balance.
Just to give you an illustration, if you burn 3000 cal in a 24 hour window, and you only consume 1500 cal, you’re in a 1500 cal deficit. You still need energy so that energy has to come from somewhere, and hopefully using this method, it will come from stored body fat and glycogen.
Creating a Calorie Deficiency
Losing weight is like watching paint dry, it takes time. It’s always best to lose your body fat over time instead of in having a quick bash at it. The example above helps to illustrate how a 1500 cal deficit works. The 1500 cal is just a made up figure to help you guys understand.
For most people out there, the above figures would mean losing up to 3 pounds of bodyweight a week on average. It’s important to take into account other factors such as water fluctuations and bowel movements that could disrupt the 3 lbs. of bodyweight a week figure.
Amount of Deficiency You Should Create
Different people react differently, and for some people a fairly large calorie deficiency such as the figures I’ve used can be okay.
Generally you will find that in heavier individuals can afford to create bigger deficits. On the other hand, leaner individuals should create smaller deficits for two very important reasons. The first being risking muscle loss, and the second being, it’s much more difficult for leaner people to create bigger deficits because their bodies are generally smaller, meaning they burn fewer calories anyway.
What You Should Be Doing
Eat enough protein to insure your muscles remain satisfied, but don’t go crazy with this!
A healthy carb intake is vital for long-term health.
· Don’t Lose Your Head with Gadgets!
Focusing too much on the fancy gadgets such as wristbands and calorie counters can be more of a distraction than a benefit.
· Don’t Neglect Weights
It’s essential to maintain a weight training routine to help maintain your muscle tissue.