Q&A: Calorie deficit and what it’s all about


One day my client came in a few minutes late. She walked in smelling like a brewery. Now waking up hungover makes for a good laugh among friends but you’re not doing yourself any favors when you’re distinctly overweight and out of shape.

It was clear she was in no condition to be receiving instructions let alone workout. Coupled with the fact she was putting in very little effort to modify her inclinations since the first day we shook on it, I was irate. Not even halfway through the session, I told her to go home. “We’re done. Get out of here.” Not one of my proudest moments as a trainer.

Obviously, the benefits of strength training extend far beyond looking good. But if that is the principal goal, understand the actual work is supposed to be hard. Think about it. You’ve been out of shape for a number of years, so a degree of restriction is unavoidable. It’s clearly going to take more than a month to see significant changes.

Q: I recently altered my diet by increasing my protein intake, and cutting back on carbohydrates. Somehow, I’ve gained weight. Help me.

A: Restricting carbohydrates—rice, breads, pasta, etc.—is a well-intentioned strategy. People who have a higher body fat percentage will respond favorably particularly during the initial stages of a diet. Effectively, it mitigates overeating, which is conducive for fat loss. But to say it’s the only viable option to facilitate it is nonsensical.

You don’t have to do anything extraordinary to see measurable improvements. The name of the game has always been maintaining a calorie deficit. In other words, eat a little bit less. It’s the most important component because any sort of manipulation or dietary hack is rendered useless if you’re habitually overeating. At the very basic level you should have an idea of exactly how much you’re eating.

What works can be mind-numbing. But it works.

Q: I already know I have to exercise more. It’s just so hard to stay motivated. How do I stay focused and on track?

A: Struggling with motivation? This sort of thing happens and that’s perfectly normal. Start with the lowest hanging fruit. What’s the easiest thing you can do that isn’t a huge ordeal? Most people have a tendency to overcomplicate the details and perpetuate the idea they have to go 0-100mph.

The assumption that you can’t thrive without intensive effort is part of the reason a lot of folks have a hard time staying consistent. Not to come off as a pompous wiseass, but that’s overkill.

As long as you’re applying effort, there’s nothing wrong working below your threshold. It also helps to have a reliable trainer partner or a workout buddy.

Dre De Los Santos (Special to the Saipan Tribune)
Dre Delos Santos has spent the last six years working with people from all walks of life in Hawaii. He is now a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym and contributes to the TAGA Sports magazine. He is featured on fitness sites such as Weight Watchers, T-Nation, and STACK.

Dre Delos Santos writes about fitness and nutrition for Saipan Tribune and TAGA Sports. Readers may send him questions at www.dredelossantos.com; he cannot make personal replies.

Dre De Los Santos (Special to the Saipan Tribune) | Author

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