If your goals are geared towards changing your body weight, body shape, or body composition, your focus should be on eating in a calorie deficit.

Most people want to change their diet in order to work towards specific aesthetic goals. If you want to hit a certain weight goal, reach a lower body fat percentage, or fit in a new size of jeans, being in a calorie deficit is without a doubt the most important factor at play.

CALORIE DEFICIT = eating fewer calories than you burn through daily activity

People often achieve these physical changes because they have cut out certain foods from their diet (no sugar, no fast food, no soda) or have added in more movement to their day (hitting a daily step goal, starting to lift weights or run). Without knowing it, they have created a calorie deficit by eating fewer calories and burning more calories through activity. And while a calorie deficit can be achieved without counting your calories or macronutrients, tracking your intake ensures that you are consistently eating the right amount of the right things so that you can optimize your aesthetic changes.

Making the extra effort to track your intake can help you focus on making the right kind of composition changes. We are quick to focus on weight loss, but body composition goals should really be focused on fat loss. Both weight loss and fat loss require eating in a calorie deficit, but when focusing on weight loss you are focusing solely on the number on a scale. Daily fluctuations in weight are completely normal responses to changes in sleep, stress, hydration, digestion, and many other factors, so if you are only focusing on weight loss, there is a good chance you will feel frustrated and defeated at times because you are overlooking other non-scale victories.

WEIGHT LOSS || A decrease in the number on the scale. Weight loss may be the product of both loss of body fat and loss of lean body mass (muscle and bone mass).

FAT LOSS || A change in your body composition. Fat loss refers to reducing your body fat percentage while maintaining more lean muscle mass.

When working towards aesthetic goals, it is important to focus on fat loss. For fat loss, you must be eating enough food, and the right type of food, so that the changes in your body composition are the result of decreasing body fat, not losing bone and lean muscle mass. Adequate protein intake is an important part of fat loss as protein plays an essential role in helping our bodies maintain lean body mass, even when in a calorie deficit. The effects of fat loss can still be seen on the scale, but can also be seen in changes in body composition, body measurements, and how your clothes fit.

Reducing body fat to meet your aesthetic goals is a process. It requires patience and, more importantly, it requires consistency. To achieve your aesthetic goals you must adhere to a calorie deficit consistently over time, and there may be some compromises involved in order to stay consistent. Flexible nutrition is all about (you guessed it) flexibility. So while you should always have the flexibility to enjoy the foods you want to eat, pursuing aesthetic goals may require sticking to mostly high-volume whole foods and limiting meals out and higher calorie treats for a while.

As we’ve talked about goals over the past few weeks we’ve discussed the fact that, while we all want to get lean and strong and healthy, we can’t have it all.

If you are working towards the goal of being as lean as possible, you probably won’t be the healthiest or strongest you can be.

While you can still prioritize healthy habits and choosing high quality foods, being in a calorie deficit can impact your overall energy and performance.

Working towards aesthetic goals is hard work! There is no magic pill that will get you immediate results. It’s all about consistency and prioritizing your goals so that you can stay consistent.  The compromises that may be required to adhere to a deficit are only temporary and should not be the case forever. Our bodies are not meant to be in a calorie deficit for a long period of time, and spending too much time in a deficit can have negative consequences on both our physical and mental health. Consistency in your deficit will allow you to reach your aesthetic goals sooner so you can then focus on maintaining those changes and eating in a more sustainable manner.

Questions about eating for aesthetics and what that means for you? Drop ‘em below! We always want to hear from you!