If you are struggling to stay in a caloric deficit, you are not alone. In fact, the majority of the population in the United States is overweight. The numbers are startling. According to the CDC, 73.6% of the US population is overweight.
This is definitely a cause for alarm. And for someone who used to struggle to put on weight, it was initially difficult for me to understand. That is until I went a little far with my caloric intake and I had to lose 25 pounds to get back to normal.
How did I drop those 25 pounds? It was by a deliberate habit of eating at a caloric deficit every single day.
In this article, we are going to discuss the principles of a caloric deficit and what you can do if you are struggling to stay in a caloric deficit.
How to know you are in a caloric deficit
The first step for staying in a caloric deficit is making sure that you know exactly what a deficit is for you. And I mean for you yourself. Not what some weight watchers or fitness guru told you it should be.
Here is the truth. There is no blanket advice for people who want to lose or gain weight. It is different for every single person.
This is why I always advocate for learning how to calculate your maintenance calories. This is going to be the key to every single fitness life goal of yours.
Calculating your maintenance calories is a time consuming and tedious process. But once you get that number, you are going to be able to do a lot more with it than you think.
From here, we can use an app like MyFitnessPal to help monitor every single calorie that you consume.
Once you have your maintenance calories, all you have to do is eat at a caloric deficit of 500 calories under maintenance per day. From there, if you aren’t losing at least a pound per week, go another 250 calories lower. Keep this process up until you are losing at least a pound a week.
The reason that so many people fail at losing weight is lack of knowledge. They don’t realize that knowing your maintenance calories and being in a caloric deficit is imperative for losing weight.
One thing that I always tell people is that you cannot workout enough to lose weight if you are eating at a caloric surplus. Even a difference of 500 calories per day is enough to ensure you don’t lose weight.
More people need to know this, especially if you are struggling to stay in a caloric deficit.
Build your habits around staying in a caloric deficit
This may seem very obvious, but there might be a lot of things that you are doing in order to ruin your caloric deficit. For example, are you going out for a night of drinking every week with your friends?
Not many people want to give up their vices, and that is one thing that they won’t back down on. You just have to ask yourself, what is more important, getting in shape or going out every week?
First of all, there is ample evidence that alcohol slows down muscle growth. It also adds a ton of unnecessary calories to your diet. So if your goal is to be in a caloric deficit, you can literally blow your whole week with one night of fun.
Another thing that you need to be careful of is how often you have a cheat day. Even one cheat day can ruin your whole week if you are not careful. This is why I always recommend monitoring your calories on a cheat day.
Daily habits to help you stay in a caloric deficit can be tedious. Things like making sure you input every calorie after each meal might be annoying. But by getting into these habits, you are going to ensure that you stay in a caloric deficit.
Simply don’t put yourself in a position that makes you desire to let loose.
Don’t get me wrong. Cheat days can happen. A night out with friends can happen. But get into the habit of monitoring what you are consuming.
For example, if you absolutely must go out with your friends every week, factor in the calories of how many beers you are going to drink and balance it against your diet throughout the day.
Monitor your body measurements and set goals
This was one of the biggest breakthroughs for me when it comes to making progress. I never took “before” pictures at the start of my journey. I was just too embarrassed with my body.
Don’t be like me. And don’t listen to the fitness gurus who say that the scale doesn’t matter. That is just a new age feel good thing that people say to make you feel better in the moment.
The truth is that seeing your measurements change over time is going to give you a massive confidence boost and keep pushing you along your journey.
Just know that there will be times when you feel like giving up. You will think that your body is stuck where it is and it will never change.
I am here to tell you that not only can your body change, but it can drastically change like mine did.
The right thing to do is measure your belly with a body tape measurer. And while you’re at it, measure other parts of your body like thighs, arms, neck, or whatever else you feel necessary. Also, record your weight.
From here, you can re-evaluate every week or 2. Just make it consistent. Over time, you will see changes in your body and it will keep you motivated to hit your goals.
For me, it was the opposite of a caloric deficit. I was super skinny and needed to be in a caloric surplus to gain muscle. I spent months working out and I saw the scale go up, but I didn’t see any noticeable changes. That is until I measured my bicep and it had grown an inch.
If I had never taken those original measurements, I may have given up right then and there. This is why I find it extremely important to measure everything. I could be the determining factor if you continue on or not.
Main Point: Struggling to stay in a caloric deficit?
Getting in shape can be no joke, and if you are struggling to stay in a caloric deficit, it can be hard to want to continue on.
Before we commit to a caloric deficit, we need to understand the relationship between calories and weight loss or weight gain. Just know that if you are not in a caloric deficit, you will not lose weight. It is the opposite for people who want to build muscle. You have to be in a caloric surplus to build muscle.
Now that you know the basics, if you want to supercharge your results, working out regularly is going to do that. Don’t get me wrong, just eating at a caloric deficit will ensure you lose weight. Exercise will make sure that your body looks good when all that fat is gone.
Be sure to calculate your maintenance calories and know the math behind a caloric deficit for your personal situation. Everyone has a different maintenance number, so make sure to keep that in mind.
Building good habits and avoiding bad habits are the building blocks to making any goal a reality. Do what you need to do to build great habits into your life.
Lastly, make sure that you set realistic goals that you can hit. Monitor your progress by taking measurements and weighing yourself. You can learn more about setting realistic fitness goals for beginners here.
All in all, I strongly believe that you can do this. Remember that most people fail because they lack the knowledge and understanding necessary to continue. The more knowledge and data points that you can give yourself, the better off you will be.