What are calories?
Calories are a unit of energy used to quantify energy in food.
What is energy?
Energy is a fuel source
- Used for movement
- Used for essential bodily functions
- Intake through food consumption
Calorie intake – Calorie expenditure = Calorie balance
Calorie intake > Calorie expenditure = Weight gain
Excess energy will be stored for later use, this is primarily stored as body fat.
Calorie intake = Calorie expenditure = Weight maintenance
No excess fuel available. No storage of tissue necessary.
Calorie intake < Calorie expenditure = Weight loss
Stored tissue is used as fuel which primarily comes from body fat.
Assessing calore balance
Changes in bodyweight can be used to assess calorie balance.
- Most direct indicator of long-term calorie balance
- Most accurate way to assess calorie balance in the long-term
Weight vs Fat loss
Weight loss doesn’t specify what tissue is being lost
We want to maximise fat loss and minimise muscle loss
A calorie deficit is still necessary for significant weight loss to occur
Rate of weight loss
How fast should weight loss be?
- Dependant on individual context
- Slower weight loss generally results in greater muscle retention
- Faster weight loss achieves fat loss faster
Time constraints: is there an event / occasion to lose weight for? May influence rate of weight loss.
If there are no time constraints you can lose weight at what ever rate you want. Slow and steady is something we would recommend.
How much weight to lose?
If trainee has a large amount of weight to lose then generally it’s wise to take things slower for sustainability. This is mainly because trainee needs to practice some key habits which can be tough to do, especially if they are unrealistic. For example if calorie deficit is set too large, trainee could yo-yo in weight due to being too hungry all the time.
If trainee has less weight to lose, they can probably get away with losing weight at a faster rate with less negative side effects.
Schedule and lifestyle
Weight loss may be constrained by individual schedule and lifestyle.
Determine time and energy available to commit to weight loss. Slower rate of weight loss is recommended if you don’t want to sacrifice parts of your lifestyle or your schedule is pretty busy with work, kids etc. On the other hand, if you have a lot of time on your hands and less commitments you could go all in and see a much faster rate of weight loss.
Faster wight loss = less sustainable
Slower weight loss = more sustainable
Generally most people can only handle a substantial calorie deficit for so long, this is why it can be very beneficial to perform calorie phases. For example phase one (3 weeks) could be a 200 calorie deficit, Phase two (3 weeks) could be a 500 calorie deficit and then you’d repeat.
We would always recommend a slower rate if there are no time constraints, this is because it gives you a chance to cement some key habits to enable you to keep the weight off, potentially forever.
Rate of weight loss recommendations
- No minimum rate of weight loss
- Maximum rate of 1% bodyweight per week