We constantly see people yelling "calorie deficit" at each other in the comment sections of videos and photos online. At a time when obesity is at an all-time high, lots of people are still trying to get to terms with the extra weight they're carrying around from a two-year global shutdown, and for a lot of us, we're playing a constant guessing game with what we're eating, how much we're eating, when we're eating it and what needs to be done to maintain a healthy lifestyle and body. Let's say that yelling at someone to get into a calorie deficit is about as helpful as carrying around an upside-down umbrella. While its job is to catch a few raindrops, it doesn't do much good if the foundation isn't there. The same can be said about nutrition and fat loss. If fat loss is your goal, let's look at 4 foods you need to eat to quit your guessing and ensure you stay within your calorie deficit.
First and foremost, let's look at what a calorie deficit is. We know that it means consuming fewer calories than we are expending, Or burning more than we eat. To fully understand how this works in the body, we have to understand TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Most of our calories are not being burned from the exercise we do, no matter HOW active you are! This might be news to you, but if you look at the following image, this represents the scale of calories you burn throughout the day.
You'll see that a majority of calories burned come from something called your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate). That's one of the major reasons why I think it's extremely toxic and unnecessary to look at food like french fries and say "I have a medium fries, how many stairs will it take me to burn this off?" Because the reality is if you burned that many calories from just exercise you'd be burning significantly more calories overall from the other bodily processes taking place (as seen in the figure above⬆️).
One of our biggest goals, when we're in a calorie deficit, is to avoid the feeling of hunger. When people think of a calorie deficit more often than not, they say "I just have to eat less," which isn't necessarily true. You just have to eat fewer CALORIES than you burn, not less food 😏. If we find ourselves feeling hungry, more often than not, we'll also find ourselves making poorer food choices and it could even lead to binge eating. Binge eating happens as a result of overly restrictive diets and prolonged hunger. We tend to binge because we have not been giving our body the right fuel it needs to power through our daily activities. This means if we're constantly starving ourselves, and constantly feeling the temptation to binge, it's more than likely that we aren't fueling ourselves correctly and something in our diet isn't working for us. Perhaps an extreme calorie deficit and we should bump up the calories but instead try and push through something like 1200 kcal (enough for a small toddler) and within 5 days find ourselves elbows deep into a bag of M&M's. Regardless of the vice, it becomes hard to maintain that strict level of self-control.
In order to get into a calorie deficit and fuel our body to perform as best as physically possible all while sustaining it until we reach our weight loss/ fat loss goals, we NEED to make sure that we are satiated and still enjoying the foods that we eat. Now that we know all of this, let's look at 4 foods that will help us to achieve all this and lose that stubborn fat, FOR GOOD!
Food #1- Lean Animal Proteins
If you've been heavily involved in the fitness industry this first one might come as no surprise to you. The first food that we need to consider are foods that are high in protein. On that list of foods that are high in protein, and provide higher levels of satiety include animal proteins. Things like fish, steaks, chicken, etc. Because foods high in protein are usually filling, we should make sure that a solid portion of our total diet is rich in proteins. Satiety and muscle-building properties are just a couple of the benefits of a higher protein diet. A great estimate to figure out how much protein you should eat daily is approximately 1-1.6g of protein per kg of your bodyweight. If you're young and sedentary, you can remain closer to the lower range, and if you're someone who is older, or active you should aim to consume closer to the higher range (1.6g of protein per kg of your body weight per day).
Food #2- Fruits (Apples and Oranges)
We've already discussed the importance of eating foods high in protein, coming in at number 2, this one might shock you. It's established that satiety when in a deficit is important, but you can eat bowls of spinach until your arms are bigger than Popeye, but you'll still be tempted to indulge if you're not able to find a balance of satiety and enjoyment of the foods in your diet. For that reason, it's essential that you incorporate plenty of fruits and vegetables, but more specifically, apples and oranges into your diet. If you're like me and have a sweet tooth, having something after almost every meal, is paramount to your success in achieving and maintaining a caloric deficit for a prolonged period of time. If you've followed me for a long time you know a large portion of my daily fruit intake comes from Kiwi and watermelon (especially when in a deficit) but alongside being more accessible (in North America) apples and oranges also rank quite high on the satiety index (197% and 202% respectively), which is why they are an ABSOLUTE MUST when staying in a caloric deficit. If you have a sweet tooth, I'm not saying completely eliminate other foods that you love, but make these more available if you want to help curb your cravings MOST of the time. Remember, as long as we are able to reduce our total calorie intake, a small deficit is still better than hating a large deficit and then binging your way into an accidental surplus after days of struggling.
Food #3- Plant Based Proteins
Conveniently, the next food we need to add to our fat loss diet is also relatively high in protein. We want to start incorporating vegan protein foods such as legumes, beans, nuts, tofu, soy, and seeds, etc. Along with being high in protein, vegan foods are higher in fiber. Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet. Along with helping to lose fat, high-fiber foods improve digestion by slowing transit time in the gut, play a role in improved mental health, with the potential to reduce depressive symptoms, and increase satiety further! In order to optimize your fiber intake, you should be consuming around 25g of fiber to 38g of fiber for women and men, respectively.
Food #4- Carbohydrates
Last but certainly not least, we have in my opinion one of the most controversial foods on this list. Coming into the top spot, the most important foods in fat loss are carbohydrates. Specifically, but not limited to potatoes, oats, and whole wheat pasta (323%, 209%, and 188% respectively). Along with being extremely satiating these two foods are very versatile in their preparation methods and can help add considerable variety to a diet. The last thing anybody would want when trying to cut calories is eating a boring diet. Chicken breast, broccoli, and rice were popular with bodybuilders until the early 2000s, but please for the love of internet explorer, and all that is holy, please, just leave it there to die. I love all three of those foods individually, but together, every single day-- you're on a diet not in prison. 😂 Now that you have all of the necessary tools to maximize your nutrition, let's look at applying it to real food and how that would look.
Here is a sample of how I'd organize one of my days on a calorie deficit to make sure it's healthy, high in protein, high in fiber, satiating, and most of all, enjoyable. This is a real day in the life of me from my recent calorie deficit. As a disclaimer, everyone is a different size and has different requirements. This is what I consumed as a reasonably active, 100kg male at 182.75 cm in height. This was my lowest calorie day of the entire energy restriction phase I was doing.
Proffee (black coffee with Allo Protein- EDIN20 for 💰 off!!)- (45kcal, 10g protein)
Overnight Oats w/ extra scoop (700 kcal, 50g protein,76g net carbs,19.3g fat)
Chicken Katsu with rice (470 kcal 53g Protein,3g Fat, 52carbs)
w/ Orange/apple for a pre-workout snack (47kcal, 1g protein,0g Fat, 9 Net Carbs)
Kimchi Jiggae (438kcal 60g Protein 23g Carb 15g Fat)
2 slice high protein Tiramisu (266kcal, 20g protein,1g fat, 46g carbs)
Total: 1958 kcal, 193g pro, 206 carbs, 38.3g Fat
Thanks for reading, See you later!