Is a calorie deficit hard? Is it supposed to be terribly difficult to lose weight? When will you see the light at the end of the tunnel in your weight loss journey?
Yes, a calorie deficit is hard because it requires you to change your eating habits and overall lifestyle.
But there are ways to make it a lot less difficult for you to stick to.
Let’s dive in.
Is a Calorie Deficit Hard?
Yes, a calorie deficit is hard for most individuals, especially when you first begin, because you are changing a big part of your life and it is an adjustment to your routine.
Think about how much of our lives revolve around food. We have functions, events, and holidays that all center around food multiple times a month or year.
You may not feel like food is a huge part of your life, but you might be surprised to learn that many of your activities or get togethers with friends or family usually always have food involved.
You’re going to have to change the way you think about food and your relationship with it.
Before starting a calorie deficit, how much did you think about the calorie content of what you were eating? I bet you didn’t.
This is why many of us gain weight over time, because we are not being calorie conscious. We just eat and we do not actually think about how many calories we are consuming over time.
When we are not aware of how many calories we are consuming and how many calories our body actually needs, we will usually consume more calories than our body needs.
This puts us into a calorie surplus, and this is when weight gain happens.
When we suddenly start to be aware of calories and start tracking them, this can be an adjustment that is major and life altering in a way.
It may seem like a major task, but calorie tracking is what needs to be done if you are serious about losing body fat and reaching your goals.
Why Is My Calorie Deficit Not Getting Easier?
Your calorie deficit is likely not getting easier because you are still struggling with making the right choices when it comes to food, or you are being too restrictive.
Obsessing over what types of foods you can eat can drive you crazy. But, you do not have to obsess over this.
To be perfectly honest, there are no foods you can’t eat when in a calorie deficit. Yes, that means no foods are off limits.
You can eat whatever foods you choose, as long as you are keeping tabs of the calories they contain and they fit into your daily calorie goal.
There is no such thing as certain foods that make you instantly gain weight when you eat them. All foods contain calories, and it is about how much of them we eat that determine if we gain or lose body fat.
That means if you love donuts, you can enjoy a donut. As long as you include the calories from that donut in your calories for the day.
I’ve said it many times and I will say it again. EAT WHATEVER FOODS YOU WANT TO EAT. Stop looking at foods as bad, and just start tracking how much of the food you eat.
When we start looking at foods in a negative light, it causes us to develop a negative relationship with food, which will cause us to begin being too restrictive.
What happens when we start being too restrictive with calories? We get hungry.
No one wants to feel hungry all of the time. Hunger is the main reason a calorie deficit can be extremely hard for most people.
Related Post: Why Can’t I Stay in a Calorie Deficit?
Why Am I So Hungry on a Calorie Deficit?
A slight amount of hunger is normal at first when starting a calorie deficit because your body is adjusting to the new intake of food, however it is not normal to feel constantly hungry every minute of every day.
If you are finding yourself absolutely starving all the time, there is a chance you are not eating enough food (calories).
This is a common mistake when people start their weight loss journey and they think that in order to lose weight, they need to dramatically reduce their calorie intake.
If you are feeling hungry all of the time, this new way of life is not going to last very long.
Your Calorie Deficit is Too High
You need to increase your intake a bit or have a snack in between meals while still staying in your calorie allotment.
If you feel your calorie intake might be too low, just try increasing it by 100-200 calories. Try this for a week or two and keep an eye on your body. If you do not gain body fat, you can stay at this value.
How do you know if you are gaining body fat? Weigh yourself once per week on the same day, at the same time, and after you go to the bathroom. Do not weigh yourself every single day to track, this is not going to be an accurate representation of fat gain.
You can also use a measuring tape and measure your abdomen, hips, and thighs.
Also, if you add a snack in between meals, you are less likely to feel hungry in between meals.
Adding a low calorie filling snack can be a great way to prevent hunger and hold you over until your next meal.
Increase Protein To Curb Hunger
You should also consider increasing your protein intake. Protein helps us feel full for longer because it is a macronutrient that the body takes a longer time to digest.
When trying to increase your protein intake, start aiming for around 0.6-0.8 grams per pound of body weight per day.
If you are someone who lifts weights, you can increase this even further and aim for 1.0-1.5 grams per pound.
Protein also helps to prevent loss of muscle along with fat when in a calorie deficit.
A lot of people are afraid of eating too much protein because they think it will make them gain weight, but this is not true at all. Consuming too many calories is what makes you gain weight.
This means calories from any macronutrient.
Fill Up on High Volume Veggies
Also, filling up on high volume vegetables is a great idea. High volume vegetables take up more space in the stomach and also include an increased amount of free water, which will help keep you feeling full.
The two main things we are looking for when trying to feel full is an increased stomach volume and water.
Veggies such as broccoli, Brussel sprouts, leafy greens, sweet potatoes, carrots will help you achieve this.
Try drinking more water throughout the day as well. More water=more satiety.
Of course, if you have a health condition that prevents this, do not increase fluid intake without first speaking to your doctor.
Why Did I Stop Losing Weight During My Calorie Deficit?
The answer to why you stopped losing weight in your calorie deficit over time is simple: metabolic adaptation.
Metabolic adaptation is when the body gets used to a certain calorie intake and becomes more efficient at using those calories as the overall mass of your body decreases with fat loss.
This is why it is important to consistently monitor your weight and progress so you can make changes accordingly.
This is what most people refer to as a weight loss plateau. However, a plateau is not the end of the world.
If you find that you are no longer losing weight, there are a few things you can do to break free from a weight loss plateau:
- Start moving more
- Begin weight training
- Consider increasing or decreasing your calorie deficit by 100-200 calories per day
More movement=more calories burned. Just by starting to increase your physical activity can help you break through a plateau.
Weight training is also a great way to break through this phase. You can even do this at home using weights or do bodyweight exercises. It does not have to be anything fancy.
You can also consider increasing or decreasing your overall calorie intake. You might say “decreasing calories makes sense, but increasing?”
Increasing your calories slightly can also help kick you out of a weight loss plateau because it confuses your body in a sense.
If you have been eating at a calorie deficit for a long period of time, your body might need a slight increase in calories to get things moving again.
Why Am I Gaining Weight in my Calorie Deficit?
You are gaining weight in your calorie deficit because you are likely not actually in a calorie deficit.
This might seem like a silly answer, but it is true. If you are not in a calorie deficit, you will not lose body fat.
If you are truly in a calorie deficit, you WILL lose body fat over time.
If you are not losing weight when trying your calorie deficit, you need to take a step back and analyze what you are doing.
The solution may be you need to decrease your calories slightly. This may mean decreasing daily calorie intake by 100 calories daily and check to see if this works. Keep trialing it and see how your body responds.
You can also try increasing physical activity or movement.
This means getting outside and going for more walks, or doing more stairs. This does not have to mean you have to sign up for a triathlon.
When we move more, we burn more calories. Just by increasing your movement, you might reach a calorie deficit and begin losing fat without altering your calorie intake.
If you have tried all of these and feel you may have a medical condition preventing you from losing weight, the only solution is to discuss it with your doctor.
Is a calorie deficit hard? It sure can be! A calorie deficit can be a drastic change for many to overtake and any change to your routine can be hard.
This does not mean a calorie deficit is hard for everyone, but if it is hard for you, try to make it easier by following some of the tips above.
A calorie deficit is not only possible, but it is necessary if you want to lose weight. It is the ONLY way to lose weight. There is no other shortcuts.
Losing weight is a process and like all processes, there are going to be ups and downs. The key is to never give up and always keep pushing forward.