September 10, 2019

There is nearly no other topic that is discussed as much as dieting. You can find 100s of diets out there. Keto, low carb, high carb, high fat, paleo, intermitted fasting and many more. People often get confused with so many different diets. How should I eat? Can I eat carbs and still loose weight? These and many other questions bother people and athletes all day.

But you know what? It is actually super simple. The principle behind EVERY diet is the same. The secret is always the caloric balance. 

What is the caloric balance?

The caloric balance is the ratio of your consumed and burned calories. If you consumed more calories (energy) than you burned, you will gain weight. If you cosume less calories than your body burned, you will loose weight. That's it. What all the diets promise works only with this principle. Low carb diets work, because if you cut your carbs, you cut your whole caloric intake and will most likely end up in a caloric deficit. Which mean you loose weight. But on the other hand, if you eat low carb but still conusme more energy than you burned by eating too much fats, you will increase your weight, even if you sticked to low carb. Same goes for all other diet concepts. So in the end, for the weight management it is not so important what you eat, as long as you eat enough or less enough. 

How much deficit/surplus do I need?

This is actually a pretty hard question, since there are no general values. It depends on several factors:

  1. How much time do you have to hit your wished weight?
  2. How much diet stress can withstand?
  3. How important is perfomance in your training?
  4. How much time can you put into your nutrition?

Why are these questions relevant for the amount of calories you need?

1. The more time you have, the less big needs to be your surplus or deficit to gain or loose weight. This also means tracking doesn't need to be as much on point as it woud have to be if you are under time pressure.

2. The less stress you can withstand, the less caloric deficit I would recommend you. Caloric deficit is basically controlled starving. This means stress for your body. The higher the deficit, the more stress. So if you have no experience with diets, start with lower deficits and see how your body will react.

3. If performance is important, you need to take more care about the surplus, deficit and also macro nutrients. For example the amount of carbs needs you need to get your training results, the amount of protein you need to not loose muscles in your diet etc. For protein values, check the protein article. Carbs will be discussed later in a different article.

4. If you don't have the time to prepare your meals or track your nutrition, you need to rethink your diet concepts. You will most likely will not be able to run a strict diet. So if your time is limited, take it easy and plan more long term and don't wish for fast results.

To sum this up: To decide how much deficit or surplus you need to hit your goals needs to be discussed for every individual case. But what all have in common is, that you need information about your nutrition to adjust the parameters. So my advice: Start to track your nutrition to get a feeling for it. How much calories to you consume? How much protein? How much fat? These are values you need to evaluate your nutrition and upcoming diets.

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