Is being in a calorie deficit the only way to lose weight?
There’s coaches out there who say things along the lines of: a calorie deficit is NOT the ONLY relevant factor for weight loss, with factors like gut health or thyroid function or inflammation or insulin sensitivity being the most important things to focus on, as issues with these WILL halt or greatly slow fat loss. Then cue the IIFYM and Macros coaches getting their panties in a bunch and yelling that in fact macros / calories IS all that matters.
The truth is somewhere in the middle: Calorie balance IS the only factor that dictates weight loss or weight gain BUT calorie balance is effected by a myriad of factors like gut health or thyroid function or inflammation or insulin sensitivity or hormonal profile or a host of other factors. A good coach will understand how internal issues will effect calorie balance so they can make changes accordingly.
An example - someone lost fat and got lean last year eating 2,000 cals. They try it again this year but the fat isn’t shifting, even though they’re doing the same level of working out. Digging deeper turns out they went through a really stressful time at work at the beginning of the year and their diet was shot and this lead to a string of autoimmune issues and nutrient deficiencies, so now their Thyroid doesn’t produce the level of thyroid hormones it was producing last year, which means their body now burns less calories than it did last year. So 2,000 cals will now not be low enough for fat loss. The Thyroid issue EFFECTED the calorie balance - it did not NEGATE it. Make sense?
Now I’m not saying if you’re struggling to lose fat you probably have a thyroid issue - YOU PROBABLY DON’T. What I’m saying is that weight loss IS as simple as being in a calorie deficit, and for most people this DOESN’T NEED TO GO ANY FURTHER than simply eating less calories than they’re currently eating; sometimes it can get more complicated though, and this is where a good coach can help you figure out what’s going on - calorie balance IS all that matters, but this can SOMETIMES be a more subtle and complex equation than it first seems.
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