By Gabe Sanders PhD, NSCA-CSCS
The struggle to maintain or lose weight is a constant battle for most of us! If you are like me, I constantly have to watch my weight, ensure that I am exercising regularly, and I must limit my carbohydrate intake.
I too have my moments when my diet falls apart and I eat sugary foods or processed carbs that are temporarily pleasing but eventually, these foods leave me feeling hungrier than I was an hour earlier.
Small-moderate deficits in your diet can help you lose weight
In my opinion, a major contributor to peoples’ diet struggles is consuming regular or diet soda-pop. The sweet taste of soda-pop triggers your sweet tooth and can lead to eating more sweet foods. As a result, over consuming convenient foods that are high in saturated fat and riddled with sugar or processed carbs will lead to weight gain and potentially poor health. However, small-to-moderate deficits in your diet can significantly help you lose weight, over time.
A negative calorie diet does not deteriorate your muscle mass
Research suggests that long-term moderate caloric deficits can help you lose body fat without decreases in muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness, if you continue to exercise regularly. The key finding is that a negative calorie diet, which means you eat fewer calories than your body needs on a daily basis, does not seem to deteriorate your muscle mass and ability to exercise.
It had been previously thought that losing body fat also leads to a reduction in lean muscle mass which then contributes to negative changes in your exercise performance and then further struggles maintaining weight loss. The emerging research highlighting that it is possible to maintain muscle while restricting calories is excellent news.
To successfully engage in long-term, moderate caloric restriction, limit your daily caloric restriction to 300-500 calories per day fewer than you usually consume when you are maintaining your weight. A good caloric range could be around 1,800-2,200 calories daily. That number does change based on your age, gender, activity levels etc. so be sure to experiment with your caloric restriction regimen.
Don’t go extreme!
Please know that when moderately restricting calories you should not go to extreme changes in your diet or exercise habits. Usually, extreme caloric restriction or changes in your workouts will often lead to long-term failure and a subsequent increase in eating and then weight gain. Be patient and consistent with your exercise and eating habits!
*Before starting a nutrition regimen, consult with your healthcare provider and/ or registered dietitian.
Sun Basket is a healthy meal delivery service offering organic and sustainable ingredients and easy recipes delivered to your door weekly.
Racette, S. B., Rochon, J., Uhrich, M. L., Villareal, D. T., Das, S. K., Fontana, L., … & Roberts, S. B. (2017). Effects of Two Years of Calorie Restriction on Aerobic Capacity and Muscle Strength. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 49(11), 2240.
Kitzman, D. W., Brubaker, P., Morgan, T., Haykowsky, M., Hundley, G., Kraus, W. E., … & Nicklas, B. J. (2016). Effect of caloric restriction or aerobic exercise training on peak oxygen consumption and quality of life in obese older patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 315(1), 36-46.
Mourier, A., Bigard, A. X., De Kerviler, E., Roger, B., Legrand, H., & Guezennec, C. Y. (1997). Combined effects of caloric restriction and branched-chain amino acid supplementation on body composition and exercise performance in elite wrestlers. International journal of sports medicine, 18(01), 47-55.