We can definitely point to a caloric deficit as one of the major driving forces behind weight loss. However, does less food really mean better results? Will any caloric deficit get you the results you’re looking for? No, it’s not. It all depends on your goal, your timeline and your commitment.
If your goal is to lose 10 kilos before a wedding that is taking place in 4 weeks, yes you will have to restrict your intake a lot more than someone who’s looking to lose those same 10 kilos in 6 months from now. Both situations force us into a caloric deficit, but are they both equally sustainable? No, they are not. There’s a reason why people who cut their calories by 50% or more don’t lose weight or can’t sustain it. Why?
Let’s get into it.
Less calories equals less calories burned
I always like to explain this situation by using an analogy, so here we go. Pretend like you’re working in a power station that burns coal to generate electricity. For months on months the coal mine is producing plenty of coal for the power station to use. It’s producing so much coal that the plant has coal piled up in a back-room for emergency situations. All of a sudden, the coal mine produces 50% of the coal it usually does and now you’re in charge of how to handle the situation. You can go either one of 2 directions. One, you can produce the same amount of energy to the surrounding homes and businesses but run the serious risk of running out of energy, even with the backup stock. Should you run out, you will obviously get fired. Two, you can cut the energy production in half, which means the surrounding homes won’t have as much power but at least it will be sustainable for however long the coal production is cut in half. In that situation, the worst case scenario (no power at all) is avoided, more than likely keeping your job in the process.
Option 2 is exactly what happens to your body whenever you dramatically cut your caloric intake. By cutting your caloric intake down, your body will adjust and protect itself from completely shutting down in the long run. It does so by simply spending/burning less calories throughout the day. This has a big impact on everyone, no matter your daily activity level. It has even bigger implications for people who work out hard or need their brain to function on a high level throughout the day.
Big deficits are not sustainable
I have talked about this once or twice before, the main problem with massively cutting calories is that it simply can’t be sustained (or at least is very hard to do).
If you look at tv-shows like ”the biggest loser” for example, most people reach their goal and do it in ”record” time. Awesome, but have you done research on how many contestants actually sustain their results afterwards? Research shows that about 90+% of the people on that show can’t sustain their weight loss. Season 8 was so bad that 16 contestants gained their weight back. Can you guess how many contestants there were? You might have guessed it, 16!
It’s really hard to sustain big weight loss like that. It’s not as simple as just getting to your ideal weight, it’s maintaining it that is hard. Obviously, you have to eat less to get to a weight but what do you do when you get there? You have to sustain your total amount of calories that fits your new weight. That is no problem for people who slowly lose weight, because that is what your body is slowly transitioning into. For people who lose weight fast, this is too much of a shock to the body to sustain.
After all, if it took you let’s say 10 years to gain this amount of weight, what makes you believe that losing it will only take 2 months?
- If you’re looking to lose weight quickly because of an event that is coming up soon, go into a big deficit. Just be aware that it’s more than likely not sustainable for you.
- If you’re looking to lose weight and hold onto it long-term, start with a slight deficit 5-15%, to keep it sustainable while still seeing the results you’re looking for.
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