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Is a calorie just a calorie?

A calorie deficit is a required condition for weight loss, but if creating a healthy fat burning nutrition plan were only a matter of calories and nothing else, then three diets at the same calorie level – the first composed of 100 percent protein, the second 100 percent carbohydrates, and the third 100 per cent fats – would all produce the same results. Common sense tells you that eating 2000 calories of fish and vegetables won’t produce the same results as 2000 calories of fast food, crisps and chocolate.



How you divide your calories between the three macronutrients – proteins, carbohydrates, and fats – and which foods you choose from each category has a profound effect on your body and your health. Severely restricting any one of the macronutrients can lead to nutrient deficiencies and a drop in your physical performance.

How you split up your macronutrients can also affect your hormones. This includes hormones of hunger and metabolism, which influence how many calories you eat or burn each day.


Track Calories

Nail down the fundamentals first, Start with calories, find out what your maintenance calories are (check out online calculators) then track your calories using an online tracker like “my fitness pal”. When you begin to log your calories you’ll be amazed where extra sneaky calories are slipping into the diet. When you are more aware of your eating habits it’s easier to tweak and refine your eating habits. You’ll establish a baseline for those numbers and measure your results. If the baseline isn’t working , experiment, tweak and adjust.


For healthy long term fat loss, choose a deficit between 15-30 percent below your maintenance level.


  • Conservative deficit                                         15-20% below maintenance

  • Moderate deficit                                                21-25% below maintenance

  • Aggressive deficit                                               26-30% below maintenance

  • Extremely aggressive deficit                      31-40% below maintenance

  • Semi-starvation                                                  50% below maintenance



Always remember, you must have a calorie deficit to burn body fat, but most people cut calories much too fast. Your body can’t be forced to lose fat more quickly than nature intended; you must coax it. The smartest, safest, and healthiest approach for permanent fat loss is to start with a small deficit , say 10% below maintenance calories, add exercise, then continue to cut calories if necessary as your weekly results dictate. Do it slowly and progressively in stages, not all at once.

There’s more than one way to create a calorie deficit. You can decrease your calorie intake from food or increase the calories you burn from training and other activity. Unless you’re physically unable to exercise, a combination of both is ideal.


Become a metabolic furnace

Why deprive yourself by eating less when you can eat more and fire up your metabolic furnace? All you need to do is add the right kind of training on top of a sensible nutrition programme. Compared to dieting alone, the results you get from combining cardio, weight training, and nutritious eating to achieve a specific goal are nothing short of miraculous.


Here are some reasons why training (weight training and cardio training combined) is superior to dieting for losing body fat :


  •  Training (burn more)                                                                            Dieting (eat less)

  • Raises your metabolic rate                                                            slows down your metabolic rate

  • Creates a caloric deficit without triggering the                                 Triggers the starvation response

  • Starvation response

  • Builds and maintains lean body mass                                                     May be harmful to your health

  • Increases fat burning hormones                                                                  Decreases fat burning hormones



If you have any questions on fat loss, body composition and training, contact me on [email protected]

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