Scared to Start a Calorie Deficit? How to Overcome the Fear


Are you looking to lose weight but you are scared to start a calorie deficit? This may seem silly to most, but it is actually very common.

Many people are scared to start a calorie deficit because they fear losing muscle, not being able to stick to the plan, or fearing they will be hungry all the time. Some are afraid they will flat out fail and it will be all for nothing.

While these are valid concerns, you are likely to experience few or even none of them. There are ways to overcome the fear and make a calorie deficit work for you.

Let’s get into it.

What Makes Someone Scared to Start a Calorie Deficit?

Most times, many are scared to start a calorie deficit because they fear they will fail. This is especially true if someone has tried to lose weight in the past and was not successful.

The thought of starting over again can be daunting and make anyone second guess themselves.

Another reason people may be scared to start a calorie deficit is because they do not want to experience hunger. When you cut calories, it is natural to expect to feel hungry. It is a totally normal response from the body.

No one wants to feel uncomfortable and think about food all the time. The good news is that there are ways to combat hunger while in a calorie deficit. We’ll talk more about that soon.

Lastly, some people may be scared to start a calorie deficit because they think they will lose muscle mass. If you are active and lift weights, you want to maintain your hard earned muscle.

The good news is that you can lose body fat without sacrificing muscle as well.

Fear of starvation mode

What the heck is starvation mode? Why would that make someone afraid to lose weight?

Well, starvation mode is the thought that if you cut calories too low, your body will go into ‘survival mode’ and hold onto fat stores for dear life.

This is a fear that needs to be put to rest. Starvation mode is totally real, but this will only occur if you are DRASTICALLY reducing calories to an unsafe level. Imagine someone picked you up and dropped you off in the middle of the African Rainforest with no food.

While it is true that your body will stop burning fat as efficiently over time in a calorie deficit, it does not happen as quickly as people think nor to the extent they think, and it is relatively simple to break out of it.

Starvation mode is simply a metabolic response of dropping body fat. Our body is smart and is able to constantly adapt.

It is also not a process that is as drastic as many make it out to be. It is true that our metabolism may slow down and our body will try to conserve body fat, but it is easy to kick ourselves right out of this by making quick and easy changes.

Easy changes to breakthrough a metabolic plateau:

  • Start strength training
  • Start increasing your movement
  • Slightly increase or decrease your calorie intake
  • Change your eating pattern (eat at different times of the day)

If you find yourself stuck, make one or two of these changes and see how your body responds.

For example, decrease your daily calorie intake amount by 100-200 calories or you can even increase it, or simply start moving more.

You will likely find that your weight loss will start up again in no time. These simple changes are enough to get your metabolism going again.

How to Overcome the Fear of a Calorie Deficit

If you are looking to lose weight but you are scared to start a calorie deficit, here are some tips to ease the common fears associated with starting one.

If you are afraid of losing muscle mass in a calorie deficit, you can :

  • Lift weights regularly
  • Make sure to consume enough protein
  • Avoid excessive amounts of cardio
  • Do not restrict calories too low

You do not have to sacrifice your muscle mass in a calorie deficit. You do not have to turn into a power lifter either.

You can choose to simply start a full body routine that is easy for you and do it 2-3 times per week.

In addition to this, you want to make sure you are getting a dose of adequate protein in your diet every day. Aim for 0.36-0.56 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight if you can.

If you can fit it in, you can simply aim for 1 gram per pound of your goal weight as an easy guide.

If you want to conserve muscle while trying to cut fat, it is a good idea to stick to less of a deficit, a range of 200-300 is better for muscle preservation if you are weight lifting.

If you are afraid of being hungry all the time, you can:

  • Eat more frequent, smaller meals
  • Snack on high protein foods
  • Include vegetables in your diet (they contain higher volume)
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Include high fiber foods

When you first start a calorie deficit, it is normal to be a little hungry because you are starting something new. You are changing your calorie intake and your body is not used to it yet.

In the beginning, you can use some of the tips above to trick your brain into feeling full.

By including foods such as vegetables that are low in calories and take up large volume in the stomach, you will feel fuller for longer. The same goes for fiber and protein.

If you are scared of failing or not being able to stick with your plan, you can:

  • Set realistic and attainable goals
  • Start slowly by cutting a few hundred calories from your diet
  • Find a calorie deficit amount that works for you
  • Be truthful to yourself
  • Give it time

Everyone has a fear of failing at some time. It is important that you set goals that you actually are able to reach. Start small. For example, set a goal of 2-3 pounds of weight loss from body fat in a month.

Do not start expecting to lose 30 pounds in one month. This is not attainable or even safe. Start lower and start slower to see real progress.

Be truthful to yourself at all times. You need to track your calories in if you are new to this or are starting fresh.

It is easy to lie to ourselves or say “I only ate 1 cup” when the serving size you have eaten was actually way more than that.

If you really want to accurately track your intake, I recommend measuring your food at first or using a food scale.

It is important to give yourself time to succeed and do not give up. If you do not see any weight loss, tweak your “calories in” amount or get moving more and increase exercise by walking.

Simply start walking and reassess for changes. More movement equals additional calories burned.

The important part is that you keep going. Eventually, if you are making the needed changes you will see progress.

Fat loss is possible if you give yourself a chance.

The Bottom Line

Starting a calorie deficit can be scary for some, but it does not have to be. If you are scared to start a calorie deficit, use the above simple tips to help you overcome your fears and be successful in your weight loss journey.

Start utilizing these tips and keep pushing through. If something is not working, make some simple changes and keep trying.

If you start a calorie deficit and are not seeing weight loss after two weeks, you might not be in a true calorie deficit. All you have to do is drop calories by a small amount of even 100 calories.

Be truthful with yourself and track all of your calorie intake at first.

You need to TRY to make progress. It will never hurt you to keep trying.

You can get it done!