Losing body fat is one of the two most important steps for people who want to have a better physique.
Actually, losing body fat is much easier to plan than to put it into practice, however, there are several factors to take into account and, we understand, that people who are new to the world of fitness find it difficult to have all this information tied up.
For this reason, we leave you below everything you need to take into account to make a calorie deficit safely.
Table of Contents
Calculate your maintenance calories and macronutrients.
Calorie calculations are extremely important when planning a diet, whether to lose fat, gain muscle mass, optimize health or improve athletic performance, although the foods and macronutrients that make up the diet are probably more important than calories.
There are many very accurate methods such as spirometry or indirect calorimetry, which help us to know exactly how many calories we need throughout the day. The problem is that these tests require specialized equipment, so we are going to use a formula to give us an approximation of the calories we need.
This formula is the Harris-Benedict equation, which will help us to know our basal metabolic rate (BMR), that is, the calories we need just to stay alive.
To calculate our BMR, we will need to know our weight, height and age. The BMR calories are low because they do not take into account our physical activity expenditure, so we have to multiply them by our physical activity factor, which will depend on the intensity of the exercise you do, the frequency and duration.
Let’s imagine that our maintenance calories are 2800 kcal. If we want to lose body fat, it is normal to reduce 20% of the calories we need, so we will have to consume 2280 kcal per day.
As for the distribution of macronutrients there is a great controversy as to how they should be distributed, but proteins would range between 1.6-2 g/kg/day, fats between 0.8-1 g/kg/day and the rest of the calories, in the form of carbohydrates to be able to train with intensity.
Consume fresh and unprocessed foods
Consuming this type of food, that is, basing our diet on fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, meats, fish, eggs, etc., is not only recommended for health reasons (which is the basis for good health), but also because these foods have a higher nutritional density and lower caloric density.
At equal calories consumed, if we compare it with a diet with many ultra-processed foods, we will eat more and we tend to have a greater availability of micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and phytonutrients.
Cardio vs. high intensity training
Cardio can help you achieve a caloric deficit, but running for hours on the treadmill is not the smartest thing to do if you want to achieve the best possible body composition. It’s very easy to adapt to this type of exercise and have your body end up with fewer kcal doing the same amount of exercise.
Instead, we recommend you to invest most of the time you spend in the gym, in doing high intensity strength training in which you mainly work exercises like deadlifts, squats, bench press, rowing, etc., because if the intensity is high, it is not so easy for the body to adapt to them.
This will help you maintain the muscle mass that you may lose during the caloric deficit of the definition. What we do recommend is that you maintain a minimum physical activity of between 10-12,000 steps per day.
Fat burning supplements
We do not recommend investing money in fat burning products, as they have as a common ingredient some diuretic compounds such as dandelion or horsetail, stimulants such as caffeine and other components that do not really do much good.
The efficacy of most of these compounds is not proven. Many of them are simply not useful for fat loss.
During the caloric deficit, we follow several strategies to deal with hunger, adaptations to the caloric deficit, etc., two of these strategies are the refeed and the cheat meal, and although each of them has its advantages, it also has its disadvantages, but there is a third strategy that brings together many of the advantages and reduces almost completely the disadvantages.
This strategy is the diet break, which implies that after a period in caloric deficit, we increase the calories we consume for several days until we reach the calories we need to maintain our weight.
For example, if we need 2800 kcal to maintain our weight and we cut during 2 months a 20%, we will be consuming during that period of time 2280 kcal. If we want to use the diet break strategy, it would be convenient for 1 or 2 weeks, to return to our current maintenance calories after that period of fat loss, since they will not be the same as before.
With this we get to psychologically endure another 2 months in caloric deficit and that the adaptations that have been produced in our body, will gradually diminish.