Calories Count! Calories In Calories Out And Deficit Dieting For Fat Loss

Tom Venuto
Written By: Tom Venuto
May 29th, 2013
Updated: June 13th, 2020
Categories: Articles Fat Loss
31.7K Reads
Fat loss guru Tom Venuto presents his number one fat loss tip to help you reach your weight loss goals: exercise, but most importantly focus on achieving a calorie deficit.

I'm going to share with you the most crucial weight loss strategy that will literally make or break your success. This is the number one fat loss tip I could ever give you. If you don't get this right, you can kiss your fat loss results goodbye.

This is the one absolute requirement for weight loss, and it’s something you’ve probably heard of before. However, there’s one critical distinction about this familiar advice that you might not have considered - and this one thing makes all the difference in the world…

Let me quote Melvin Williams, PhD, professor emeritus of exercise science at Old Dominion University and author of the textbook Nutrition for Health, Fitness and Sport (McGraw Hill):

“Human energy systems are governed by the same laws of physics that rule all energy transformations. No substantial evidence is available to disprove the caloric theory. It is still the physical basis for bodyweight control.”

There are a variety of diet programs and weight loss “gurus” who claim that calories don’t count. They insist that if you eat certain foods or avoid certain foods, that’s all you have to do to lose weight. Dozens, maybe hundreds of such diets exist, with certain “magic foods” put up on a pedestal or certain “evil fat-storing foods" banished into the forbidden foods zone.

Other weight loss “experts” invoke the insulin/carbohydrate hypothesis which claims that carbs drive insulin which drives body fat. That’s akin to saying “Carbs are the reason for the obesity crisis today, not excess calories.”

They are all mistaken.

Fat loss diet

Of course, there IS more to nutrition than calories in vs calories out. Food quality and nutrition content matters for good health. In addition, your food choices can affect your energy intake. We could even point the finger at an excess of refined starches and grains, sugar and soft drinks (carbs!) as major contributing factors to the surplus calories that lead to obesity.

However, that brings us back to excess calories as the pivotal point in the chain of causation, not carbs. A caloric deficit is a required condition for weight loss - even if you opt for the low carb approach - and that’s where your focus should go – on the deficit.

Now, here’s that critical distinction…

You’ve heard it said, “exercise more and eat less” a million times. However, saying “focus on the calorie deficit” is NOT the same thing. If you don’t understand the difference, you could end up spinning your wheels for years.

You could exercise more, but if you compensate by eating more, you cancel your deficit.

You could eat less, but if you compensate by moving less, again you cancel your deficit.

This type of compensation can happen unconsciously, which leads to confusion about why you’re not losing weight or why you’re gaining. That often leads you to make excuses or blame the wrong thing… anything but the calories.

Therefore, “focus on the calorie deficit” more accurately states the most important key to weight loss than “exercise more and eat less.” Make sure you understand this distinction and then follow this advice.

Last but not least, keep in mind that there are a lot of ways to establish a deficit and many of those ways are really dumb. Eating nothing but grapefruits, cabbage, Twinkies… but in a deficit?… Dumb!

The bottom line is that a calorie deficit is required for fat loss, but once your deficit is established, the composition of your hypo-caloric diet DOES matter. That’s why any good fat loss program starts with "calories in vs calories out" but doesn’t stop there - you also need to look at protein, essential fats, macronutrients, micronutrients, food quality and how the diet you choose fits into your lifestyle. This is the pivotal strategy that my entire Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle system hinges upon.

Don’t let the simplicity of this idea fool you. This is the #1 key to your successful weight loss now and in the future: Focus on the deficit!

Train hard and expect success,

Posted on: Thu, 08/06/2015 - 17:11

If I exercise more, say I burn 300 calories on the elliptical, why can't I eat 300 calories more for the day and still be at the same deficit? Am I misreading, "You could exercise more, but if you compensate by eating more, you cancel your deficit?"

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 11:56

Hypothetically that would work given calories in and calories out equate to weight loss/gain. However, many of those machines are based on formulas which don't account for individual variables in metabolism and lifestyle factors.

I believe the author was referring to individuals who subconsciously allow themselves to eat more after exercising (these folks wouldn't be counting calories obviously).

Jamie G.
Posted on: Wed, 06/12/2013 - 23:23

Spot on! I lost 60 lbs. a few years ago by counting calories.

One current fitness guru and physicist by trade screamed counting calories won't work. Yet in his podcast he talks about getting his clients in a calorie deficit. Go figure.

Posted on: Tue, 06/04/2013 - 10:41

Question: I can see how calories in/out can affect weight loss/gain and I'm currently trying to lose some weight. What I'm wondering is what 'weight' will I be losing if I create a calorific deficit but still eat balanced meals meeting all my macro's etc? Does the word 'weight' mean I'll lose muscle or fat or a combination of both? Thanks!!!

M&S Team Badge
Posted on: Tue, 06/04/2013 - 17:33

If you're eating clean and hitting your macro's, then muscle loss should be at a minimum. Make sure to keep a weightlifting routine going during your cutting phase, and you'll be able to hang onto precious muscle. If you're looking for a new routine, there are some great ones here:

Abdul azim
Posted on: Sun, 06/02/2013 - 21:08

absolutely right!!!

The Brick
Posted on: Wed, 05/29/2013 - 13:17

Boom! That simple.