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 lose weight? These and many other questions bother people and athletes all day.But you know what? It is 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 consume fewer calories than your body burned, you will lose 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 means you lose weight. But on the other hand, if you eat low carb but still consume more energy than you burned by eating too many fats, you will increase your weight, even if you stick to low carb. The same goes for all other diet concepts. So in the end, for 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 performance 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 it needs to be your surplus or deficit to gain or lose weight. This also means tracking doesn't need to be as much on point as it would have to be if you are under time pressure.

2. The less stress you can withstand, the less caloric deficit I would recommend to you. A caloric deficit is 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 of the surplus, deficit and also macronutrients. For example, the amount of carbs needs you to need to get your training results, the amount of protein you need to not lose 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 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 many calories do you consume? How much protein? How much fat? These are values you need to evaluate your nutrition and upcoming diets.

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