Caloric Deficit: Everything You Need to Know

Muscle gains increase your daily energy expenditure, which can unbalance the energy balance and lead to fat weight loss. What else do you need to know about it?
Caloric Deficit: Everything You Need to Know

Last update: 26 May, 2021

When it comes to weight loss, you’ve surely heard of the need to establish a caloric deficit. This concept refers to energy balance and consists of unbalancing this equation in favor of expenditure.

Thus, you’ll expend more calories than you consume daily, causing a progressive weight loss. In this article, we’ll explain the secrets of the calorie deficit and how the longed-for weight loss occurs.

Expending more than you eat

A woman getting ready to do gym
Physical exercise is a good ally to increase energy expenditure. If you increase your daily expenditure and maintain the same eating habits, a gradual weight loss occurs.

It’s the easiest way to generate a caloric deficit. Instead of looking to eat less than you need to perform your vital functions, increase your daily exercise so that your energy demands are higher.

Increasing your daily expenditure and keeping your eating habits intact will result in progressive weight loss. Keep in mind that to lose 2 pounds (1 kg) of fat you need to burn about 8000 kcal from this nutrient, so don’t get obsessed with going too fast either.

When you’re in a situation of caloric deficit, the first energy reserves to be used are carbohydrates stored in the form of glycogen.

From there, the body starts to store fatty acids awaiting the demand to produce energy. It’s at this point that the loss of fat tissue and weight begins.

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Other strategies to produce a caloric deficit

One of the most effective protocols that has become fashionable today is intermittent fasting. It basically consists of not ingesting food for a period of time longer than 16 hours. This results in lower weekly food intakes, which has an impact on the energy balance.

This way, we’re more likely to eat less than we burn up in our daily activities. Current scientific studies support this strategy to lose weight and keep it off in the medium and long term.

However, this imbalance doesn’t occur indefinitely. There comes a time when the body, because it has less tissue, rebalances its energy demands until it reaches another situation of equilibrium. At this point, weight loss would be blocked again.

Generating a caloric deficit through muscle production

You should remember that muscle is a metabolically more active tissue than fat. Therefore, experiencing muscle gains can be an effective weight loss strategy.

In this situation, what happens is that energy burning increases in order to perform the same daily functions. Then, if food intake remains the same, a caloric deficit will have been produced.

Given this situation, we can guarantee that strength exercises work very convincingly in improving body composition.

According to a publication in the journal Obesity Reviews, those high-intensity exercises performed in intervals can increase our caloric expenditure even hours after the end of the session. In addition, they have a positive impact on muscle gains.

Choose your food wisely

A woman with healthy food.
A correct choice of food is also a determining factor when it comes to losing weight.

The choice of food consumed is also closely related to weight loss. Simple sugars have a low satiety-inducing power. In addition, their consumption is associated with reactive hypoglycemia that increases appetite shortly thereafter.

Eliminating these foods from your diet will allow less energy intake without starvation. Instead,  doctors recommend protein foods rich in healthy fats such as omega-3.

When choosing carbohydrates, it’s essential to opt for those with high amounts of fiber and a low glycemic index. This way, the blood glucose peak will be lower and the feeling of satiety will last longer.

Although a low-carbohydrate diet can be as effective as a low-fat diet for weight loss, it’s more bearable to restrict carbohydrates because the sensation of appetite is less.

Calorie deficit: what you should remember

Caloric deficit is a concept that refers to the intake of fewer nutrients than are needed for daily activity. This leads the body to force a balance by destroying fat tissue and thus decreasing body weight.

There are several strategies to put this concept into practice. One of them is intermittent fasting, which has shown positive effects on weight loss in the medium and long term.

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  • O Santos H., O Macedo RC., Impact of intermittent fasting on the lipid profile: assessment associated with diet and weight loss. Clin Nutr ESPEN, 2018. 24: 14-21.
  • Wewege M., Van de Berg R., Ward RE., Keech A., The effects of high intensity interval training vs moderate intensity continuous training on body composition in overweight and obese adults: a systematic review and meta analysis. Obes Rev, 2017. 18 (6): 635-646.