Weight loss is something the world is actively after nowadays. It could be to fit into that perfect dress or simply to stay healthy. The logic behind the process of weight loss is quite simple, but there are so many different body types and so many individuals with different ways of processing things that weight loss has become a difficult and rather complicated subject to understand. At the very heart of the query, “how do weight loss plans work?” is the concept of calorie deficit.
To break it down into extremely simple terms, the concept of calorie deficit says that the energy your body spends should be more than the energy your body consumes. This would ultimately lead to weight loss. Now, let us go into the specifics. Every food item we consume holds some calories. When these calories are consumed, they are used as fuel by the body. On the basis of the amount of work done by the body, the number of calories that need to be spent will be decided. Hence, if you are doing some high-impact, vigorous activity, the calories your body will have to spend to provide you with the energy to do that activity will be high. In a different scenario where your body is idle for most of the time, the only area where your body would require energy is for the most basic activities like breathing and digesting food. If the calories are consumed are greater than what is required, these calories will be stored in the body as fat cells or adipose cells. Sometime in the future, when your body would require high reserves of energy for any particular activity, the body will draw energy by making use of the energy stored in the form of fat cells.
Essentially, if your body does activities that ask for more calories than the calories you have consumed in the day, the energy will be drawn from the fat stored in the body. This is the concept of calorie deficit.
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To start maintaining a calorie deficit, one would have to understand the concept of basal metabolic rate. This rate is the number of calories that your body would burn on a general basis even without any interference from you. The body requires a certain amount of energy per day to perform the most basic activities such as breathing, pumping blood, and digesting food. This number of calories is different for different people. After you find your basal metabolic rate, you can calculate the number of calories you will be able to spend through physical activity. That will be the total number of calories that you would spend in the day. Once that is calculated, what’s left to do would be to make sure that the calories consumed are less than those spent. That would create a calorie deficit; hence, when energy is required, it would be derived from the fat, thereby burning it. A pound of fat equals to around 3,500 calories. So, losing one pound of fat would require an individual to consume 3,500 calories less than the number of calories they spend. If this calorie deficit is to be maintained over a span of 7 days, the individual would have to maintain a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day.
The best way to maintain a calorie deficit would be to work on a combination of a balanced diet and physical activities. This would efficiently reduce the calories consumed and increase those spent.
One issue that a lot of people face and place blame on is the rate of metabolism. As mentioned earlier, the basal metabolic rate is different for different people. Some people can lose weight faster than some other people, whereas some people can put on weight more easily than some other people. While the energy equation can be imbalanced by several factors such as the lifestyle, the environment around, hormone control, sleep, and genetic makeup, the answer to the question “how does fat loss work?” essentially is that you would have to burn more calories than you consume. Counting in all the factors, the pace of the weight loss might be different for different people. But it will happen all the same when one follows that basic rule.
The reason behind why it is very easy to put on weight and difficult to lose weight lie in the very composition of fat cells, also known as adipocytes which can retain energy at an abnormally high level but release energy at a very slow rate. Along with the storage of high amounts of energy, these cells also lead to the production of various amounts of hormones which throws the body off-balance. The hormones released further slow the metabolism, increase inflammation and can cause disease.
With the process of weight loss becoming difficult with the very presence of these adipocytes or fat cells, how does fat loss work?
The answer lies ultimately in maintaining that fat cells. The process of it as explained in terms of fat loss is as follows:
When a new physical activity regimen is brought into play by an individual with limited calorie consumption, two things happen inside the body which leads to the burning of fat. Firstly, the energy stored in the fat cells is used as the fuel required for the activity. Secondly, given the new regimen, the body stops directing the energy into storage in the form of fat cells.
In the first process, the brain signals the fat cells to release fatty acids into the bloodstream. These fatty acids are further broken down by various organs such as the lungs, heart, and muscles and the energy released is used for different activities. Over time, as these fat cells keep getting used, the body gets used to using energy directly from the calories that are being consumed and stops directing these calories into storage. And this subsequently, increases the basal metabolic rate. So, the key really is maintaining a calorie deficit.