When it comes down to it, fat loss truly is as simple as maintaining a net negative difference between calories consumed and calories expended. Burn more calories than you consume and you will lose body fat. Those who argue otherwise must defy proven, established thermodynamics principles to do so.
So, when I come at you with a headline claiming you can kickstart fat loss without reducing calories or exercising any differently, you’d be right to be suspicious of this claim. But I assure you this isn’t a marketing gimmick. I’m not after your money.
There really is a way to manipulate your diet so that you can seamlessly rid your body of unwanted fat without changing your training routine, without reducing your calories, and without intensified feelings of hunger.
It’s important at this point to remind ourselves that calorie expenditure is multifaceted. There are the calories you expend while training or moving your body and there are the calories you expend effortlessly through life-sustaining, metabolic processes.
The latter is where we’re going to focus our attention.
Did you know that your body expends a certain percentage of the calories you consume just to digest the foods that provide them? And did you know that the percentage of caloric expenditure is dependent upon the macronutrients that make up the consumed calories?
This digestive energy expenditure is commonly referred to as the thermal effect of food or thermogenesis.
Here’s a quick reference on the thermal effect of the 3 main macronutrients in terms of the percentage of calories consumed that are expended through digestion:
Proteins: 20-30% of calories consumed from proteins are expended during digestion
Carbohydrates: 5-10% of calories consumed from carbs are expended during digestion
Fats: 0-3% of calories consumed from fats are expended during digestion
What this means is that calories consumed from proteins naturally lead to 100-600% more calories burned than the same number of calories consumed from carbohydrate sources. And the difference is even more pronounced when fats are replaced by proteins.
This helps explain part of why people have traditionally had success losing fat with high-protein/low-carb and high-protein/low-fat diet protocols. This is also the key to kickstarting fat loss without reducing your overall caloric intake or changing one iota of your current training regimen.
By simply substituting protein calories in place of carb and/or fat calories, you’ll be able to induce a caloric deficit (or enhance your current deficit) without changing the number of calories you’re consuming on a daily basis, because of the increased thermal effect proteins afford us.
Let’s use an example that will allow us to quantify the difference this strategy can make.
Consider someone with a daily diet consisting of 2,000 total calories that are comprised of 160g of proteins, 125g of carbs, and 95g of fats. Considering the maximum percentage of calories expended during digestion of each macronutrient (for simplicity’s sake), here is how the post-digestion calories shake out:
160g of Proteins = 640 Consumed Protein Calories = 448 Post-Digestion Protein Calories
Calculation: 640 – (640 * 0.3) = 448
125g of Carbs = 500 Consumed Carb Calories = 450 Post-Digestion Carb Calories
Calculation: 500 – (500 * 0.1) = 450
95g of Fats = 855 Consumed Fat Calories = 829 Post-Digestion Fat Calories
Calculation: 855 – (855 * 0.03) = 829
Total Post-Digestion Daily Calories = 1,727
Now, let’s consider the difference of replacing 25g of fats with 56g of proteins (in order to stay calorie neutral, because fats contain 9/4 the calories of proteins) and 25g of carbs with 25g of proteins.
This will give a new daily macronutrient breakdown of 241g of proteins, 100g of carbs, and 70g of fats.
Here is how this macronutrient modification impacts the post-digestion calories:
241g of Proteins = 964 Consumed Protein Calories = 675 Post-Digestion Protein Calories
Calculation: 964 – (964 * 0.3) = 675
100g of Carbs = 400 Consumed Carb Calories = 360 Post-Digestion Carb Calories
Calculation: 400 – (400 * 0.1) = 360
70g of Fats = 630 Consumed Fat Calories = 611 Post-Digestion Fat Calories
Calculation: 630 – (630 * 0.03) = 611
Total Post-Digestion Calories = 1,646 (a net decrease in post-digestion calories of 81)
So, just by making a slight change to the macronutrient profile of a 2,000 calorie per day diet, we are able to induce a net caloric decrease of 567 calories per week, without reducing the total calories consumed each day.
This reduction of 567 post-digestion calories is like adding a fairly intense one-hour training session to your week, except that you don’t have to spend the time and effort doing it, which is awesome.
Of course, this effect will be magnified further with additional increases in protein calories relative to those coming from carbs and fats. And the more calories you’re consuming each day, the more you can use this macronutrient manipulation strategy to accelerate fat loss.
Is this strategy going to cause you to lose an extra pound or two per week? Probably not.
But it could certainly enable you to drop another pound or two of fat in a given month. This might not seem like much, but it does add up over time.
When it comes to fat loss, it’s safe to say that most of us will take all the help we can get, especially when said “help” requires no additional effort or calorie reductions to see the results.
This is exactly what you get with this extremely simple strategy that will accelerate your fat loss results, with minimal effort, no reduction in your daily calories, and zero changes to your training plan.