Last week we looked at fitness trackers, and the week before, MyFitnessPal, an excellent daily calorie diary. Both are powerful tools to help you lose weight. They’ll also help you maintain, once you’re at your ideal weight.
This week, I’d like to put it all together, in this third installment about daily calorie deficits. It’s the only time I know of where running a daily deficit is a good thing.
For most people, weight loss or maintenance is really about managing your calories in versus your calories out. There are just three possibilities.
If calories in and out are balanced, you’ll neither gain or lose weight. You’ll stay the same. But be careful. Even if your weight doesn’t change, you can actually become fatter.
This happens when people lose muscle tone over the years, but at the same time, pick up fat. It’s deceptive, because the scale says you’re the same.
Look at it this way. I can weigh 170 at 10% fat, or 170 at 20% fat. Both are 170. Which is better? You have to stay active and keep that muscle tone.
If you take in more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. Even a little increase in stored fat will turn into a lot of fat over time, if you keep on doing it.
That’s how most of us get fat. We eat more than we burn. This is because we’re not active enough, and we don’t know how much we’re eating. We might guess high or low, but most times we don’t guess right. Guessing makes you fat.
Finally, if you burn more calories than you consume, you’ll be in deficit, which will result in you losing weight. You do this by controlling your eating, or adding activity (exercise). Ideally, you do both for best results.
Here’s where MyFitnessPal and a fitness tracker can make a big difference. The calorie log shows you how much you’ve consumed (assuming you tell the truth and log everything). That will tell you exactly where you are, relative to your daily calorie goal.
The fitness tracker gives you a surprisingly accurate measure of your calories burned. When you stack that up against your calories in, you can easily see where you are.
I know I’ve said this before, but it takes a daily calorie deficit of 500 calories to lose a pound, if you do it every day for a week. A daily calorie deficit of 1,000 calories will increase it to two pounds that week.
That’s harder to do, but still doable, if you really get moving. One day, you might be down 500 calories. The next day, you might have more time, so some extra exercise will get you down by 1,000 calories.
What really matters is that you’re always at least running a daily deficit. If you do that, you’ll lose weight. Don’t worry so much about how much you lose, just stay in deficit. You’ll get there.
A pound a week is good, and two pounds a week is great. Anything higher is awesome. But don’t be disappointed at just a pound or two. It adds up quickly and it becomes predictable, which is what you need.
So use your phone app to keep track of your calories in, and your fitness tracker to keep track of your calories out. Shoot for that daily calorie deficit, and make sure you do it every day. If you do, I promise you’ll find a new you!