How exactly does the body respond when you start to lose weight?
If you’re about to embark on a weight-loss plan, understanding exactly how your body will respond might give you the extra boost you need.
To lose weight, you need to be in a caloric deficit. That is, you need to either eat less than your body burns, or burn more than you eat. It is the calorie deficit (the discrepancy between calories in and calories out) that forces your body to lose weight. When your body needs more fuel, it will turn to stored fuel in the form of body fat.
Losing body fat
The ideal weight loss scenario is to lose weight from body fat. If you lose most of your excess weight from stored body fat, and not from muscle mass, you will still have a toned physique and a strong metabolism. The best way to do this is to create a small calorie deficit rather than crash dieting. It’s also important to exercise, with some strength training, to help maintain your muscle tissue.
What a loss on the scale means
As the number on the scale starts to drop, you will know that you’re losing weight. But the scale can’t tell you whether you are losing body fat, muscle tissue, or anything else. Weight loss could come from water, muscle glycogen, lean tissue, or even the amount of food in your gut. The best way to be sure you are losing body fat is to use a tape measure to keep track of your waist measurement.
It’s important to remember that as you lose weight, your BMR will drop. This means that your body will actually need fewer calories as you get lighter. A smaller, lighter body needs fewer calories to do everything from sleeping and resting, to walking and working out. So when you go back to maintaining your weight, you will need to eat slightly less than you did when you were overweight.