If you have ever asked yourself, what happens if you burn more calories than you eat, you have come to the right place. The answer is simple, you lose weight! There is obviously more to it than that. But in this article we will cover why this happens.
I used to be stuck in a cycle of working out and losing weight. But there was a problem. I was super scrawny, and I didn’t want to lose weight. I spent years trying to find solutions, but only came up empty handed.
The truth was right under my nose the whole time. What was the truth? That calories are the most important part of weight loss or weight gain. This means that what you eat is more important than your workouts.
Once I figured this out, I was way better off, and I ended up building the muscle that I desired in significantly less time than I could ever imagine. And then, when I got too big, I used these same principles to lose the fat but keep the muscle.
Before we go further, I urge you to download our app All Workouts: Personal Trainer (iOS | Google Play). You will find FREE workout plans and also high intensity interval training workouts to push you and shed fat rapidly.
Your body is already burning calories without working out
For whatever reason, I struggled with this concept when I was first learning about diet and exercise. But now it is easy to understand. Your body is constantly burning calories. And depending on your level of movement throughout the day, your body can actually burn a ton of calories without you knowing it.
How do you know how many calories your body burns throughout the day? You can never be 100% sure, but you can get a good idea. The best thing to do is learn how to calculate your maintenance calories.
Calculating your maintenance calorie will determine roughly how many calories per day your body needs to neither gain weight or lose weight.
It is important to note that this number will be different for everyone. This is why I am always skeptical of the fitness industry trying to sell a “one size fits all” solution to everyones problems.
I will give you a great example. My daily maintenance calorie number is about 3,100 calories. My cousins number is over 5,000. And my wifes is under 2,000.
With these numbers, we can get a fairly accurate estimate of how many calories our body burns per day if we just live our normal lives. I have plenty of friends who are jealous of the fact that I can eat 3,100 calories per day and not gain a pound.
Now that we have the knowledge of our maintenance calorie number, all we have to do is workout enough to burn more calories than that, right? Not necessarily.
Our next step is to learn about caloric deficits and surpluses.
Caloric deficits make you lose weight
If you followed the steps to calculate your maintenance calories properly, you now have a great stepping stone to begin. This is a great example of what happens when you burn more calories than you eat.
You lose weight!
A caloric deficit simply means that you are eating less calories than your maintenance everyday and over time. And if you are eating at a caloric deficit, that means you are actually burning more calories than you eat.
If you are truly at a caloric deficit, you will definitely lose weight. That is why I find it important to monitor your weight every week. I know there are people that say “the scale doesn’t matter.” But in this case it does. We want to be sure that we are truly eating at a caloric deficit.
Like I said, you WILL lose weight if you are eating at a caloric deficit. If you haven’t lost weight 2 weeks in a row, you probably are not at a caloric deficit. Therefore you want to re-evaluate your maintenance calories, and drop down your daily caloric intake.
You should also be very skeptical about how much calories you are taking in on a cheat day. Learn more about how often you should have a cheat day when you are trying to lose weight.
Cheat days are a great way to break up the monotony of a strict diet and exercise plan. But, I caution against the idea of having an all out binge day. This could completely negate your caloric deficit from the whole week.
All this to say, know what you are eating. Don’t just blindly binge. If you want to lose fat, you have no choice but to be in a constant state of caloric deficit.
Caloric surpluses make you gain weight
Believe it or not, there are some people (like me) who struggle to put on weight. We have to actively eat a ton of calories if we want any chance of building muscle.
A caloric surplus is what happens when you eat more calories than your maintenance calories on a daily basis.
If you are careful, consistently eating at a caloric surplus can lead to fat gain. This is ultimately how people become obese. By eating at a sustained level of caloric surplus for many many years.
People who are trying to build muscle can use caloric surpluses to their advantage.
When you are at a caloric surplus, you are going to gain weight. When you combine strength training alongside that caloric surplus, that is when the muscle starts to build.
If you eat at a caloric surplus and you don’t workout, your body needs a place to store those extra calories. Unfortunately, that is usually in the form of fat.
This is why it is so important that you know whether you are eating at a caloric surplus or deficit. A lot of people don’t realize that they are eating at a caloric surplus, and then all of a sudden, they are overweight.
If you do like eating at a caloric surplus and you want to build some muscle, I recommend checking out our beginner bodybuilding routine for mass. It’s a great introduction to building muscle.
Ensuring that you burn more calories than you eat
Eating at a caloric deficit is a great start to ensuring that you are going to lose weight. But is this enough? Can we find out what really happens if you burn more calories that you eat?
Let me introduce to you high intensity interval training, or HIIT for short. The name says it all, it is very intense. But it can also be very short. In fact, the average HIIT workout is 15 minutes long.
If your main goal is to lose fat, all you have to do is eat at a caloric deficit AND do HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week. If you can do that, your body is going to transform beyond belief.
The key here is that you need to do this consistently over time and not give up. Even if you don’t notice the results visibly right away. Take pictures before you begin on your journey. Since we see ourselves in the mirror everyday, we sometimes miss how much our body has transformed.
If you are new to the concept of HIIT workouts, I recommend checking out 4 of the best high intensity interval training workouts for beginners at home.
The HIIT formula is fairly simple. All you have to do is warmup with maybe some light jogging or jump roping. Then, you will do 30 seconds of intense exercise, followed by 60 seconds of rest. Repeat this 10 times and you have yourself a 15 minute HIIT workout.
There is a catch, though! For each of those 10 times you do intense exercise, you must get to 90% of your maximum heart rate for it to be considered HIIT. Learn how to calculate your maximum heart rate for exercise before attempting this.
Main Point: What happens if you burn more calories than you eat?
Now you know what happens if you burn more calories than you eat. And you know that you can accelerate your weight loss with just a few simple tweaks to your lifestyle.
Learning how to calculate your maintenance calories is a major step in working towards your goals. Once you have that number down, you can now eat at a caloric deficit or surplus, depending on what your goals are.
Remember, that you cannot lose belly fat while in a caloric surplus. This is so simple, yet so many people choose to ignore this fact.
The quickest and best way to lose fat is to combine a caloric deficit with HIIT workouts 3-4 days per week.
If you are truly eating at a caloric deficit and making sure you hit 90% of your max heart rate during your workouts, you will shed fat rapidly. There is no secret to this. You don’t need an expensive personal trainer to tell you this stuff.
Best of luck to you on your journey to getting in the best shape of your life!