If your number 1 goal is to lose fat, there are actually 3 goals to keep in mind when creating a caloric deficit:
-Maximising fat loss.
-Minimising muscle loss.
-Doing it in a way that is as doable and sustainable for you as possible.
This is why we need to find our deficit sweetspot where these things overlap. In terms of deficits I usually think of them as small, medium or large.
✅ The small calorie deficit:
With a smaller sized deficit, everything is at its easiest in terms of doing it. Since the amount of calories being reduced is so low, the fewest dietary changes are required. .
This means pretty much no issues with hunger and mood, less metabolic problems, & little to no impact on training and recovery. Not to mention, the potential for muscle loss is at its very lowest. .
On the downside the rate of weight loss will be at its lowest as well, & that’s a pretty big CON for most people. I generally only recommend using a very small deficit for those who have body recomposition goals.
✅ The Large calorie Deficit:
With a larger sized deficit, the rate of weight loss will be at its highest, & that’s something that probably appeals to just about everyone looking to lose weight.
But that’s where the PROS stop & the CONS begin.
The fact that it requires such a big calorie reduction makes it by far the hardest to do & sustain (due to hunger, mood, metabolic issues, etc.). It also increases the potential for muscle loss to happen at a high level. A large deficit also negatively impacts training & recovery in a pretty severe way.
✅ The Moderate Caloric Deficit:
With a moderate sized deficit you get the best of both worlds while greatly lessening (or possibly eliminating) many of their potential drawbacks.
And, while each of the 3 different size deficits can indeed have a place in certain situations, my usual recommendation is that for most of the people with fat loss goals, a moderate sized caloric deficit is the best choice for losing fat successfully.
You’ll end up maximizing fat loss, minimizing muscle loss & doing it in a way that is the best combination of easier, faster & sustainable.
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