Whether you like it or not, losing weight is a simple game of making sure that you are burning more calories than you are consuming over a long period of time. The trick to a successful more pleasant (enjoyable) diet is to try and eat as many calories as possible whilst still losing weight.

All to often (especially with new clients) I will see clients 100-200 calories below the target I have set for them. This can be down to getting used to tracking the calories they are eating, but more often than not, it is because they think it will help them to lose weight faster. Makes sense right!? If you are told to eat 1500 calories a day by your coach and you eat 1300, you’ll fast track your results and lose weight faster.

This may well happen. You may lose weight quickly. But, and it is a very big but, what do you do when your weight loss plateaus? Which it will.

As always, you have two choices…

  1. Reduce
  2. Increase

Let’s pretend that you are unable to add in any more activity. You are working out as much as you can and you move around a lot outside of your workouts. So, we have to drop calories. Your coach drops 100 calories from your total. But because you were already undereating by 200 calories from the target your coach set for you (1500 for this example), and you are now dieting off 1200 calories a day. This reduction in calories helps you to start losing body weight again. Eventually, as it always does, your body weight plateaus again and your weight loss stalls. Now you are left with the same two options as before. You still can’t increase activity so you have to drop calories. This process continues over a few months and you end up eating so few calories that the diet sucks. You are always tired and hungry. Your workouts suffer and you eventually throw in the towel because it all gets too hard. You go back to doing what you were doing before the diet and you put all the weight that you lost back on.

The above scenario could have been limited if you had stuck to eating as many calories as possible in the first place. Then you would be able to diet on a higher number of calories throughout and make the whole process a lot more enjoyable and easier to stick to. Slow and steady progress is still progress. Some things don’t need to be rushed and your coach does know best. Trust the process.

I will always start clients on a large number of calories (still in a calculated, albeit small, deficit) and see how their body reacts over a two-week period. It is only after this that I will consider making a change to their macros. 95% of the time the client will lose body fat for the first 3-4 weeks of a diet due to being consistent with eating the same number of calories for a prolonged period of time. Something they won’t have done before. Once their weight loss plateaus, I will slightly drop calories, usually from carbs, and wait another 2 weeks to see how this change has affected things. If I can increase activity through adding in an additional daily 10-minute walk to their program, then I will do this BEFORE reducing calories. As a coach I don’t want to make changes to my clients plans. Cutting calories and increasing activity when clients are getting results is pointless. I will always wait until I have to make a change to the client’s plan. Never a rushed decision and always calculated.

You should want to eat as much food as you can whilst still losing body fat. It is a luxury if you are struggling to eat all of the food in your nutrition plan. Because as the diet progresses and your body becomes used to the calories that you are consuming and the activity that you are performing then you will HAVE to eat less food and move more.

Try to remember that losing weight is a slow process. Be patient with it. Be consistent with your diet and exercise program. Nudge the body to change and don’t try to force it. As long as you are seeing results when you are looking in the mirror then the plan is working. Trust the process.

Written by: Adam Wakefield

I have been working as a personal trainer for over 9 years. I began my career in the fitness industry after completing a degree in Sport Science where I graduated with Upper Class Honours. I have always had a thirst for all things related to health, fitness and nutrition and it wasn’t before long that I owned my own gym.

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