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Calorie Deficit Backfire: When You Think You’re Helping… And You’re Not

Calorie Deficits. They’re great, right? Reduce your food intake below what your body typically uses and watch the fat fly. Success!

Weeeeeell… kinda. After a while, deficits do have their drawbacks– even more so with extreme calorie deficits (I’m looking at you, sub-1200 calorie lovers).

So let me set this one up: I want to address those who’ve seen success in the first months and have then maybe seen things slow down. There’s a reason for this… and more often than not, you’re the problem. I know, I know- sounds harsh but let me explain as this part is kind of counter-intuitive when we’re dealing with the calorie deficit equation.

Calorie Deficit Sanity Check- Help You Help You

Let me start with this: There’s not not one way to “skin the fat loss cat”. There are MANY. Virtually every “diet” approach works… at least for a while. As I mentioned above, a caloric deficit will always kick start weight loss BUT it has an ornery dark side– one that’s prone to get all spiteful and one you may be familiar with if you’ve been at a deficit and seem to have stalled. After all, when you’ve seen success with a deficit and watched the deficit WORK… upping calories becomes scary. Many people stay at a calorie deficit for much longer than they should. Does “I’m afraid by increasing calories because I’ll put on weight” sound familiar?

And that’s where what once helped now hurts.


Why Your Calorie Deficit May Be Blocking Your Goals

Your body doesn’t like change- it likes stability. We call this “homeostasis”– things staying the same. Your body fights for this promised land of stasis day in and day out. When you drop calories, your body notices and responds- it taps into fat storage for energy and begins losing weight. But after a while, when you’ve reduced calories so low for so long  AND your body is becoming more efficient at working through and needing those calories as you become more fit… staying at a reduction can trigger “red alert” prevention mode.

When “prevention mode” kicks in, your body slows its metabolic rate to compensate for reduced calories and uses what it’s given to keep things running smoothly. This is exactly opposite of what you want it to do and yet… this is what happens to a LOT of people.

This prevention protocol is also called “starvation mode” (a term debated and often kind of dramatic sounding) and it’s when the body actively slows things down. Instead of shedding fat, the body holds on to and tries to preserve body fat for energy storage. This sloooows weight loss. Keep in mind… you’ll continue to lose weight even in starvation mode but it’s at a much slower rate than what was happening previously and isn’t necessarily healthy or what your body needs at this point.

Don’t Be Afraid To Bust Your Calorie Deficit

Look, calorie deficits are an important part of losing fat- don’t misunderstand. But as you become more fit and lose that fat-your deficit will become a hindrance. If you’re struggling at a plateau and are still working off a deficit, chances are if you raise your calories, you’re going to see fat start to come off again. That may be scary. It feels counter-intuitive. But if you’re stalling out and can’t pin your slowing down with weight loss and you’re wondering why… this may be the answer.

Now, make it work for YOU and your goals.

Have Questions? Need clarification, support, accountability or help? Additional motivation and kick-booty, real-world support can also be found through making me (Dan Vinton) your Free Beachbody Coach. Let’s rock this. 

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