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3 steps to know if you’re on a real deficit or not

If you’ve tried to lose fat before by cutting more calories and it didn’t work, here’s why.

It has nothing to do with whether calories are not the same (spoiler alert: they are… but I can cover that in another post) or if you need to make a bigger deficit to see results.

As weird as it sounds, in some cases you don’t even need to tweak how much you’re eating to see a change in the scale and in the mirror.

The reason is simple.

In most cases, we can think we’re in a deficit when in reality we’re not.

And to show you what I mean, I will do it by giving you the 3 steps you can use to see if you’re on a real deficit or not.

STEP 1 – What brought you here won’t get you there

Sounds cliché, but it’s true.

Let’s say you were losing some fat cutting your calories by 500. That gave you an initial window for change, but what if that wasn’t enough?

Maybe where you thought you were creating a 500kcal deficit in reality it was a 300kcal deficit.

And there can be 3 reasons for that.

You either were eating less than what you thought, you are eating a deficit that’s not 500kcal (even when you think it is), or your metabolism wasn’t as good as you thought it was and that’s why it adapted to the change faster.

But whatever the case, you need to see if you’re actually stuck or not.

Sure, the scale might have stopped for 3-5 days, but that doesn’t always mean you can’t lose more weight with that deficit.

The body is very adaptive just as it is variable, so in some cases just giving it some time can be enough to see an extra pound or two (who knows and it can be a little bit more) melt off.

STEP 2 – Know where to tweak things

So let’s say you actually got stuck and don’t lose more weight, then it comes a matter of seeing if you’re doing all the things as accurately as you think.

Sadly, as much as 70% of people when dieting overestimate how much we exercise and underestimate how much we eat.

So if you think about it, only 3 out of 10 can blindly know these variables and stay consistent.

That’s why for those (like me) who can’t be that accurate by only guessing, using a way to measure progress and track things will be the answer.

If that means tracking macronutrients (and therefore, calories), so it will be.

Do what you feel you need to do to avoid mistakes and possible errors in things we can take for granted.

STEP 3 – How long have you been on a deficit

So you stopped losing weight on week 1, or week 3?

The answer will be related to step 1, as if you only lost some weight for one week it can be due to some of the reasons iexplained n step 1, but…

know that creating an insane deficit won’t necessarily be the answer at this point.

Instead, look at other metrics besides the scale.

Sure, maybe your weight hasn’t been moving, yet that doesn’t mean you haven’t been losing fat.

Maybe (and this depends on a lot of factors) you lost weight and gained muscle at the same time…?

But even if that wasn’t the case, know that the scale is not the only way to measure progress – and you shouldn’t rely on it either.

Take weekly assessments of yourself by taking photos in front of the mirror (it can be uncomfortable sometimes, but this is just for you and know that you’re changing that person you see in the mirror), and take measurements as well.

That way, you don’t rely on one way of measuring results – which only tells part of the story.

You might find that the scale stays the same, but your arms and waist are trimmed down 2-3 centimetres.

If you follow these steps, then chances are you can find where is it that you need to tweak so you can keep making progress.

That’s why when you have a system, you simply eliminate anxiety out of the equation and focus on what you can do.

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Ivan @ Fitnessthetic