We all know that in order to lose weight and achieve your fat loss goals…you need to be in a calorie deficit.
However, how do you know that you are in a calorie deficit when you are first getting started or to ensure you are sticking to one consistently enough over time?
In today’s blog, I share the 4 signs of a calorie deficit that you NEED to know. If you want to achieve fat loss, you need to know what to look for to ensure you stay on the path.
Fat loss is probably THE most sought after goal among dieters so it’s a topic worth deep diving into. I hear all the time from people that they want a diet that helps them achieve better results such as a calorie deficit to lose 1kg per week or similar.
If you are trying to stick to a calorie deficit and want to know how to lose fat without losing muscle, then you clicked the correct blog post (i’m out of gold stickers but you can pat yourself on the back).
I'm going to quite simply share the 4 key signs that you are actually in a calorie deficit. We all know that in order to lose body fat we need to be in a calorie deficit consistently over time.
However, we also want to know how to track this so that we know if things are moving in the right direction and to know that we are in fact in a calorie deficit.
Time to reveal the 4 major signs that you are successfully sticking to a calorie deficit diet for fat loss.
Let class commence now!
The Signs You Are In A Calorie DeficiT
Sign #1: Change In Your Body CompositioN
One of the best ways to determine if you are in a calorie deficit (and one of the first tangible signs), is when you notice that there has been a change in your body composition.
This can manifest and present itself in various ways but the two easiest ways to determine this is by looking at how clothes fit you and also capturing some progress pictures over time. You’ll notice how clothes will feel looser or tighter as your body composition changes which will give you an insight into whether your calorie strategy is working.
The progress pictures are a visual assessment and can be a powerful way to look beyond the scale weight - if you look better to yourself, very likely you have changed your physique (we are our harshest critics after all).
Sign #2: Bodyweight Averages Trending Downwards
This is a fundamental way of determining if you are in a calorie deficit. Tracking your bodyweight change over time and looking at the trend as a visual representation of your progress.
When you commence a calorie deficit, you will start to lose weight as long as you actually stick to a true calorie deficit. Therefore, looking at your weight change over time is a key way to see if you are in a calorie deficit.
You don’t want to just be looking at one snapshot of your weight in time. You need to be looking at the averages across a period of time and then assess the trend to see the true reality of what is going on. If the trend over a longer period of time is most definitely downwards trending…then you have yourself a consistent calorie deficit adherence situation going on.
Just keep in mind that fat loss is never linear and also that muscle gains during that period of time (if they are occurring and realistic), will mask some of the fat loss.
Sign #3: Experiencing Some Hunger SignalS
As I mentioned earlier, sometimes the scale won’t show what it needs to be showing. Sometimes muscle gain will make it look like fat loss is stagnating. Sometimes the body will be resisting change or naturally slowed down due to a number of potential physiological triggers. What do you do now? How can you know if you are in a calorie deficit?
It is hard but that is why we luckily have other signs to look for in times when tangible change is not presenting itself to us. One such way is looking for at your levels of hunger and satiety in your day to day.
If you are in a calorie deficit then you will notice that you are a bit more hungry than you are used to. Being a bit hungry in a calorie deficit is completely normal because at the end of the day you are eating less calories then your body needs - hence “deficit”.
You don’t want to be starving or ravenous - those are signs you are either eating too low of a deficit or something else. Some hunger is what you are looking for and can be a good sign you are sticking to a calorie deficit even when your body and scale isn’t showing what they should be.
Sign #4: Noticing Yourself “Moving Less”
The fourth sign of a calorie deficit is a bit of a bonus one. It’s typically not thought of as a sign and can be hard to pinpoint too. When you are in a prolonged calorie deficit over time, you may actually notice that you move a bit less than you usually do.
Some ways of noticing this include: blinking more slowly, moving slowly, being less motivated to do physical things, less fidgeting, and just overall a but more “lazy” (for a lack of a better word).
When you are in a calorie deficit over a longer period of time, your body will adapt and make adjustments by trying to conserve energy (calories) and make you expend less through limiting movements. That is why people on a fat loss phase won’t generally perform as well as when they eat at maintenance or in a surplus.
This is a sign of a calorie deficit that a lot of people tend to overlook and it may actually be hard for you to notice it too unless someone points it out to you (which most won’t). So think of this one as an added one that you can try to look at once you’ve got your eye on the first three.
A cherry on top of the sundae of calorie deficit identification.
There you go. Now you know the 4 key signs that you are in fact in a calorie deficit - the secret sauce to achieving fat loss.
Look out for these signs if you're trying to lose body fat because you should be in a calorie deficit and you want to make sure you're doing the right strategy so you can get the results you are hoping to achieve.
If you had to choose 2 to use, I would recommend you most definitely use sign #1 and #2 as they are fundamentally crucial and give you the most tangible and accurate assessment of calorie deficit status.
Now go on and work on your goals!
I am curious though...
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Brisbane Sports Dietitian & Nutritionist
Hi there! My name's Aleksa Gagic - i'm a Brisbane Sports Dietitian & Brisbane Sports Nutritionist. I have 7+ years experience in providing professional nutrition consulting and want to help you learn about the power of flexible nutrition.