Burning More Calories Vs. Eating Less

When we’re talking fat loss, there are dozen of different modes of exercise, diets, and combinations of the two that will help you reach your goals but, which one makes the biggest difference? Let’s dive in.

Fat loss through caloric restriction

                On the most basic level, it is understood that calories in vs calories out and the corresponding caloric deficit or surplus will control weight loss or weight gain. This is why many people turn to restricting food intake to lose body fat. Inevitably, however, everyone hits a wall and weight loss stalls.

Why is this? It would make sense that if you lost weight at a certain number of calories that number of calories would continue to cause weight loss but, your body doesn’t see your fat loss attempts as a healthy one but rather, as a reason to downregulate hormones and your metabolism to adjust for the reduction in energy intake. This is called adaptive thermogenesis.

When you restrict food, especially when you over restrict or drop calories too quickly, you’ll likely cause your hormones to shift in favor of fat gain rather than fat loss. This is why you see individuals dieting for 2 years at a time and it seems like no matter how little they eat they can’t lose body fat.

What’s happening is their body is partitioning calories towards storage (aka fat) and less towards you having energy. The harder you try to diet for fat loss, the more your body resists.

This is the point when most people seek us out for advice and almost always there are three areas we address, one of which is exercise (the last two we will get to in just a second).

Fat loss through exercise

                Logically, if we are wanting to control the balance of calories in vs. calories out and shift ourselves into a deficit to promote fat loss, one route we can take is to burn more calories through exercise.

                A quick google search will tell you that cardio burns more calories per minute than any form of exercise so, it seems to obvious first choice, to step onto the treadmill. But, just as with restricted intake, your body will see excessive output as a reason to downregulate hormones in efforts to preserve energy stores (aka body fat aka your body resists you losing fat).

                A side note about cardio; it sends the signal for your body to be more efficient. That sounds cool but what that means is it burns less fuel and we want it to burn more. You don’t want your metabolism to be a 50mpg hybrid, you want it to be a calorie guzzling dump truck.

                So when you experience a plateau, you bump up the cardio higher and higher and eat less and less until eventually you’re eating 900 calories a day and doing an hour of cardio 6 days a week and seeing ZERO fat loss.

                This can be a really hard place to be but the good news is there’s hope!

Fat loss the right way

                First, let’s address the training. While it sounds great to be burning a ton of calories through exercise, this is actually the opposite of what we want to do. Weird right?

                Rather, we need to shift our focus from burning calories, to increasing our metabolism and sending our body the right signal to do so. How do you do this? There’s only one way. Weight training.

                Not just any weight training will do though. While we applaud anyone who ditches the treadmill and gives weight training a shot, we are also aware of how much more complex it can be. But, you’re in luck!

                Uplift Fitness not only offers exercise programming created by certified personal trainers but, we also have an amazing free guide designed to teach you absolutely everything you need to know to get started! (All links listed below).

                In terms of nutrition, there are a hundred different directions we could go but almost always, the first step is getting consistent at tracking your macronutrients and reverse dieting to increase your metabolism. With a proper macronutrient profile and a reverse diet, it isn’t uncommon to see individuals eating 500-1000 more calories than before and LOSE body fat in the process.

                This happens because it reverses the damage that excessive training and dieting do to your metabolism. As your resting energy expenditure increases (metabolism), you’ll be in a caloric deficit without even trying.

                I also know that eating more, not less, sounds scary so, here are a few things you’ll need to nail down before starting a reverse diet to ensure success!

1. Make sure you’re following a professionally programmed exercise plan—click here to find the right program for you.

2. Make sure you’re not just going through the motions but rather, having effective training—read the Uplift Fitness Weight Training Guide (FREE)

3. Track and optimize your macros—Read the Uplift Fitness Counting Macros Guide (FREE)

4. Read the Uplift Fitness Reverse Diet Guide (FREE)

All of these guides and training programs can be found at www.upliftfitnessohio.com/shop


In sum, to answer our initial question, don’t make the mistake of thing more food restriction or more exercise is better. More is not better. Better is better. Make sure to put your efforts in the right direction!