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Has your deficit become your new maintenance?

In a Caloric Deficit and Not Losing Fat?


Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you aren’t in a deficit!

Often times when we first start dieting and decreasing calories and/or increasing activity, we see some progress on the scale and also how our clothing fits. However, you may get to a point in time where you aren’t making any more progress. You may think to yourself, I’m in a caloric deficit and my activity is high, so what’s happening?

Metabolic adaptation has happened, which means your previous deficit is now your maintenance.

You have two options:
1- create a new deficit (if you can)
2- take a diet break, increase maintenance calories so later you can create a deficit again

Some people can continue to create that deficit by cutting calories further and increasing activity. However, you may get to a point where you can’t cut anymore and can’t increase exercise anymore. What I suggest then is to take a diet break, focus on building up your calories and build up your muscle mass!

The amount of muscle mass you have directly determines your basal metabolic rate, and your BMR is the greatest contributor to your daily energy needs. Before you start cutting calories or increasing your activity I would first asses WHAT ARE YOUR MACROS?

Let’s say someone is eating 1800 calories but one month they’re having 150 grams of protein per day, and the next month they’re having 80 grams of protein per day. Would those two months result in the same body composition change?

Most Likely Not!

Why? Protein has a high thermic effect of food, meaning that it requires more energy to be broken down into usable parts compared to carbs and fats. Now please keep in mind that you are still in a positive net energy balance. There is no food that you can eat where you will burn more than what you get. Furthermore, when we are in a caloric deficit and we want to lose weight, we want to lose FAT MASS, not lean mass! Protein will help preserve LEAN mass in a caloric deficit. And remember that muscle mass is the biggest contributor to our BMR so we want to keep as much on as possible while losing weight.

So to RECAP:

1- assess your macros

2- decrease calories and/or increase activity

3- take a diet break, increase calories, increase muscle mass and create another deficit in a few months (yes months!)

Questions? The team here at Athletes Kitchen is always ready to help you reach your goals. If you are looking for support with nutrition, we invite you to connect with our Nutritionist Diane who can customize your macros to suit your goals.