Is a Calorie Deficit Actually a Good Idea For Weight Loss?

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The 500 per day calorie deficit may not be the answer to long term weight loss after all.

For years the solution to losing weight has been touted as a caloric deficit.

A calorie deficit diet is when fewer calories than their body expends are consumed . 

The backbone of modern – day diets reinforces that no matter how many days a week are spent exercising, what happens in the kitchen determines how fast the unwanted kilograms shed.

British singer, Adele, 33, claims healthy foods that weren’t calorically dense and differing caloric restrictions on certain days were the key to her incredibly quick 45 kilogram weight loss over the past 12-18 months.

British Singer Adele has experienced incredible weight loss.
British Singer Adele has experienced incredible weight loss.

The reality is, there are many factors affecting weight loss in addition to cutting back on calories. 

A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Obesity in the United States trialed the 3500 calorie deficit per week (A 500 calorie deficit per day) on a group of participants aged 18 and older. 

The results showed the majority of participants lost substantially less weight than predicted, suggesting a variety of factors need to be acknowledged rather than simply cutting calories. 

The study concluded that in order to lose weight, different metabolic factors and internal satiety cues must also be considered. 

How to safely lose weight using a calorie deficit

Losing weight cannot solely rely on cutting back certain foods

Despite research suggesting the 500 calorie deficit is not as simple as it seems, it is still the recommended guideline for losing weight, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Nutrition Professor at Boston University, Joan Salge Blake, believes maintaining a deficit  for the initial first few months is achievable by following these simple steps; 

  1. Consuming fewer calories.
  2. Increasing daily physical activity without increasing calorie intake.
  3. A combination of both.

Humans seek results, and want them fast. It’s in their nature. 

Studies have shown that taking the deficit to an extreme by eating too few calories can actually impede weight loss. 

Side affects can include; feeling constantly hungry and irritable, fatigued and nutrient deficiencies.

Another thing to keep in mind is ensuring calories aren’t being cut for an extend period of time. If they are, the body is likely to hold onto fat to conserve energy, proving counterproductive towards the goal. 

Short term vs long term weight loss goals 

Depending on the individual, a calorie deficit may need to be undertaken over a shorter  or longer amount of time. Typically, after six months of being in a deficit, it’s important to switch to a weight – maintenance program, says Amy Goodson, sports nutritionist specialising in sports at Ben Hogan Sports Medicine in Texas. 

This is essential, regardless of whether or not a goal is reached, she reinforces. 

Similarly, once a goal is accomplished, adjusting calorie intake is equally as important. 

Using a calorie deficit can work, but not on its own. Sustainable habits, such as exercise, portion control, and healthy eating habits are significant contributors to weight loss goals.  

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Ruby Derrick

CONTRIBUTOR

Ruby is a communications and journalism student with a love for writing, especially about her passions of fitness, fashion, food, health, travel, culture and politics. Her usual weeks consist of HIIT workouts, walking, testing new recipes, healthy baking and listening to music. On the weekends, she's either continuing her search for Sydney's best almond croissant, or trying Messina's latest flavour. Ruby is also an advocate for women's health and a devoted vegetarian.

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