There are different types of benefits from doing calorie deficit. Some of them, like appreciating food more, better-looking skin, or feeling less hungry is acute and happens within just a couple of weeks. For others like better libido, better sleep, or weight loss, you need to be patient, consistent and have a solid long-term plan of action.
In general, the calorie restriction can truly transform your life, make you look and feel like a brand new person. In fact, being fit and skinny is more cherished in our culture, and people who are slim enjoy their life at a totally different level. More on that later.
Here are 20 surprising benefits of doing calorie deficit with 20 action plan tips to help you make your goals more reachable.
1. You Have More Discipline
Have you ever felt like being out of sync and disconnected from your willpower?
And even when you know you’re not hungry, you end up in front of the refrigerator anyway?
A calorie deficit can build up your willpower battery.
Discipline is one of the most valuable benefits you get from doing a calorie deficit. Not only it restore your relationship with food but also makes you a more solid human being.
You end up more connected, less fragile, and stronger to overcome any emotional distress without food.
TIP: The longer you stay in a calorie deficit, the less you will devour in food just because it’s there.
2. Your Food Taste and Smell Better
You probably noticed that too when you skip a meal or you have been out of food for a while everything around you starts to look, smell and taste so much more appealing.
Try to think of when last time you went shopping on an empty stomach. Have you noticed the intensity of smells and flavors?
Scientists call this improved palatability, or simply enhanced “taste buds”. Food does taste so much better.
You can really appreciate the meal and enjoy the flavor. On the other side, overeating and being in a calorie surplus make it more of a mindless eating experience.
TIP: Eat slowly for 20 minutes with each meal to enhance the olfactory system (smell) even more.
3. You Are More Active
Imagine waking up at 4:47 am (17 min later than Michelle Obama, 3 min earlier than The Rock). You roll out of bed and drop 200 single-arm pushups, followed by a 5k run catching the sunrise.
You finish your morning with 20 min ashtanga yoga to stretch out the anxiety and an organic shake with kelp and algae.
Ummm. Not really.
Somedays we just feel more like Jabba the Hutt, not like Bruce Lee. But here’s the thing.
When you’re in a calorie deficit, not only you feel lighter, but also more motivated to move around. Exercises start to feel less of a hassle and more of a pleasure.
TIP: Being active doesn’t mean running barefoot uphill in the snowstorm. It can be a simple bicycle ride, tennis match, or something that you haven’t done for a long time, but you used to.
Related article: Can you build glutes in a calorie deficit?
4. You Pay Less For Health Insurance
One of the factors involved in the rates of health insurance is BMI. People with a BMI of 30 or higher can expect to pay a premium for their health insurance rates.
Companies calculate premiums based on several factors and being overweight or obese comes with many predispositions and further complications.
So the rates go up. That’s why going on a calorie deficit comes with an incentive not only in the form of better health but also helps you to get a better deal on an insurance plan at an affordable premium rate.
TIP: Getting a trainer can help you speed up the process. So many people who I’ve trained told me that they wish they could do that earlier in their life.
5. You Have More Mobility
Have you ever felt like your limited mobility prevented you from doing what you like? Strengthening exercises, yoga, and walking are great to practice a healthy lifestyle, but it can be tough when our belly comes in the way.
And trust me, doing squats with knee pain or being out of breath when playing with kids isn’t fun.
There is a huge difference in being active when you’re at your optimum body weight versus 50-pounds over.
A calorie deficit over time improves your mobility because once you reduce excess weight, not only you will have less stress on your joints but also you will get more flexible.
TIP: Your lean body mass dictates your metabolism. Focus on resistance training rather than on cardio to build up your strength and stimulate the muscle and keep your lean body mass high.
6. You Spend Less Money On Food
You’ve probably been in a situation where you spend way too much money on grocery shopping. And not only you eat too much but also you dumped some of the foods away.
Food loss and food waste in some countries sometimes exceed 210 kg per person per year. That’s one-third of all produced foods or 614 kcal/person each day (source). That’s a lot of money spend every week.
So think about it. Not only we eat more than necessary, but we also waste a third of our food. By going on a calorie deficit and reducing your food intake you kill two birds with one stone.
You make give yourself a fountain of youth and you save you bunch of cash.
TIP: According to research most foods wasted are grains and vegetables (the most inconvenient foods to prepare). Be more on point when doing shopping and organize your kitchen. Create a more convenient space to prepare foods that take more time to cook.
7. You Take Less Pills
I will be totally honest with you. I have a really good day when I open my inbox and read an email from a client who just came back from a doctor visit with good news.
BMI is normal. Weight went down. No more pills. My face lights up immediately and I feel a second wind coming into my engines.
A number of studies show that regular calorie restriction leads to longevity, better health, and remission of certain medications (source).
Restricting calories over a long period of time leads to many benefits, but the biggest satisfaction of doing calorie deficit are the health makers’ improvements.
Things like mood or energy are all important. But they are, well, subjective. But when you get your blood work done, everything is black and white.
TIP: Choose to work with a doctor who is consistent with practicing functional medicine. Those people have a more holistic point of view on the human body.
8. You Have Better Libido
Have you’ve ever felt like getting tired before you even started? Lack of mobility and poor eating habits can bring havoc on your sex life, make you feel embarrassed, and take away the joy of an intimate relationship with your partner.
Studies show that people with normal weight enjoy better sex life than overweight people (source).
Studies also show that obesity has a detrimental impact on sexual functioning (source). Doing a calorie deficit can benefit your quality of life, even in your bedroom department.
This means not only you feel more comfortable and self-confident, but also have a better quality of sexual interaction.
TIP: Sex life is a cornerstone of a healthy relationship. Communicate with your partner what you do and what are your goals.
9. You Think Less About Food
Grazing throughout the day puts food on your radar, which can feel like mindless eating.
I find that when I eat small and often I get into a habit of eating food, even when I’m not hungry, but just because it’s there.
This is a slippery slope because you may be out of control and you can’t really tell are you hungry, or is this something else.
How to keep it simple? You either reduce your portions, or you reduce the number of meals. Either way, it’s fine. This is a similar approach to intermittent fasting.
You designate the time of the day for eating and the time of the day for fasting. Over time, your body reduces gastric capacity (stomach) and you feel less hungry.
TIP: To think less about the food in the initial stages of calorie deficit, stay busy throughout the day. Choose some small level activities like gardening, playing with kids, walk with the dog, or housework.
Related article: How to stop worrying about calories
10. You Are More Emotionally Intelligent
Have you ever found yourself automatically reaching for food in response to uncomfortable situations or feelings? Many do. It’s called stress eating.
That’s why dieting feels hard because when your only way to deal with your problems is through food, by going on the diet you remove this safety net and it can feel foreign.
But in the long term, a calorie deficit can really benefit you by tunning into your self-awareness get at peace with your uncomfortable emotions and feelings.
Self-awareness helps you recognize what you feeling right now is normal, however, food shouldn’t be the way to feel better. No more stress eating.
TIP: Use a food journal to write down how you feel when you’re not eating. You may find some interesting information like “Every time when I’m not eating I feel X” or “Each time after X situation I feel like eating”. This will allow you to make an informed next action step.
11. Your Skin Looks Healthier
After working over 8 years with spas and skincare brands I can tell you that the most effective way to have this Havanna-style glowing-looking skin is from what you eat and how much you move.
Skin is the biggest organ of the body and aging is directly correlated with internal factors (diet, alcohol, smoking) and external factors (UVA, pollution).
Limited caloric intake enhances inter-follicular stem cell and macrophage activity. This process promotes skin proliferation, differentiation, and even wound healing (source).
No amount of creams, oils, or filters can give you what a calorie restriction and exercise has to offer.
TIP: Drink 2L of water for the next 28 days. Studies show that drinking 2L of water per day can significantly improve its glow, and because your skin is 28 days old, you can expect any reasonable change within a month.
12. You Have Better Cooking Skills
Cooking and sharing your food with others you love is satisfying. But what happens when you don’t feel so much motivated or inspired to cook? Or you just cook for yourself?
Occasional cooking for pleasure is one thing but being consistent in cooking for specific calorie needs and choosing the right type of foods is a skill.
It’s the grind. Mindfulness of what you eat and how you can prepare it makes you a great cook. And the longer you stay in the trenches, the better your cooking skills will get.
It also makes you more efficient in preparing, choosing the right cuts of the meats, making the grocery store trips as efficient as possible, eating well on a budget, minimizing the waste of food, and optimizing time spent in the kitchen.
TIP: Make a regular kitchen makeover and organize your cooking “station”. Develop a template of foods or meal types you like. To find some inspiration about what to eat check out my article here.
13. You Can Make More Money
It’s not fair, but that’s the reality. Taller, slimmer, and better-looking people earn up to five times more money than average.
Unfortunately, socioeconomic status and career success are somehow related to people’s body mass (source). This means some doors are wide open only for skinny and fit people.
There are multiple factors that play a role like self-esteem, social dominance, cultural conditioning, and just clear social preference for thin people, rather than for fat people. In my opinion, this is pure discrimination.
But it’s our reality at the same time. So whether you like it or not, losing weight may mean you can get a pay rise.
TIP: Getting more money from the fact you’re thinner shouldn’t be a goal, but just the side benefit.
14. You Have More Horsepower
Getting out of breath by the 5th flight of stairs? Or after walking 10 blocks? Losing few pounds could give you more energy. In fact, when people feel lighter they tend to move more.
And by moving more they feel even better. That’s how energy works. It’s an asset we can always find more of.
Energy is like a renewable resource. And the more you’re moving around, you end up feeling better and… more energetic. Motion creates emotion. The more you move the sharper you get.
TIP: Physical activity isn’t the only way to direct your energy. People have different superpowers like kinesthetic (coordination), verbal (writing), logical (calculating), social (interact with others), or rhythmical (music creation).
15. You Are More Confident
Do you know what is the most common thing among the people who lose weight? Other people’s perception of you.
It’s not only about self-perception when you look at yourself in the mirror. It’s that other people look at you differently, too.
The slimmer you get, the number of people who say hello on the street or smile back at you goes significantly higher.
All of a sudden you see things that were invisible to you before. You experience things that you haven’t experience before.
That changes your thinking a lot. And remember that the quality of our thought determines the quality of our life.
TIP: To stay consistent with calorie deficit take your long-term goal and break it down into small actionable pieces. It’s much easier to lose 1-2 pounds this week rather than shooting for 50 pounds this year.
16. You Are Getting Younger
Have you’ve ever heard a saying Hara Hachi Bu? This is a Japanese mantra that people who live on the island called Okinawa chant before their meal. It means 80% full.
This little mantra reminds Okinawans that they should stop eating when they are no longer hungry.
Interestingly enough, studies show that the Okinawan population experiences 80% less CHD mortality and 40% less cancer mortality, comparing to the U.S. population (source).
On average, Okinawans eat within 10-15% calorie deficit, practice tai chi, and walk a lot.
So whenever you’re in your 20s or you’re pushing 50s, a Hara Hachi Bu can give you second shoot at youth.
TIP: 80% full can be practiced along with slow eating. To learn more about how to practice 80% full check out my article on a calorie deficit without being hungry.
17. You Have Less Stress
Dieting and stress go hand in hand. It’s like dancing. The longer you do it, the better you’re at it. Let me explain.
In the beginning days of a calorie deficit, your cortisol levels will spike up and you may feel disorientated, even uncomfortable.
That is the reason why some people may have adverse overeating effects.
However, studies compared calorie restriction from several different diets – VLCD (very-low-calorie diet), calorie restriction, and intermittent fasting. In the beginning, all diets increased cortisol levels.
But here’s what’s interesting. After several weeks, cortisol levels went down to the baseline level (source).
This means your body adapts to calorie restriction. And eventually, you feel less stressed.
TIP: From my professional experience, clients who lost the most significant amount of weight were those who focused their attention on stress reduction activities like yoga, walking, meditation, and dancing. Where people who were focused on counting calories and food portions seem to regain the weight back.
18. You Are Smarter
Another great benefit of doing calorie deficit is cognitive improvements.
In fact, Dr.Antonio Contestabile showed in his study that “limiting calorie intake slows down brain aging and protects from age-related neurodegenerative diseases” (source).
Also, it is well established that calorie restriction enhances the learning and memory process by increased synaptic activity in the hippocampus. What doesn’t it mean?
Neurons, brain cells responsible for passing the information, do so by releasing glutamate from the synapse (nerve endings). With enough repetition, synaptic activation occurs and information passes from one neuron to another.
That’s how we learn. Calorie restriction enhances this synaptic plasticity so we can learn more and remember stuff longer.
TIP: Learning is strictly connected with dopamine release. The more you spend time learning new skills, helping others, meditating, or having fun in general, it triggers your left prefrontal cortex to make you feel good.
19. You Have Better Quality Of Life
The most desired benefit from doing calorie deficit is weight loss. But you don’t lose weight just to have a lower number on the scale. You are doing this because it improves your quality of life. As you can see, studies show many benefits of eating less. But what about real-life examples?
I did a small survey and asked a few of my clients about the best benefits of doing calorie deficit. Here’s what they have said:
“I sleep less but better. I’m less clumsy, less impatient, more productive, more focused, and and pimples went away.”
“Controlling myself I realized I don’t have to eat all time it’s not necessary.”
“I don’t feel hungry all the time anymore.”
“I finally feel in control of something in my life.”
20. Your Are Not Alone
According to BMC, 45 million Americans go on a diet each year (source). Which means you’re not alone. A lot of men and women right now are on the same path as you’re.
Everyone will have challenges, setbacks, make mistakes and find themselves scraping the bottom of the ice-cream tube at some point. Because people are people, not spreadsheets.
Self-compassion is real. The biggest benefit from going through the calorie deficit with a pinch of “common humanity” and see yourself as a part of the large whole will make you more resilient, less anxious, and open to focusing on the process, not the temporary scale number.
TIP: Multiple studies shows that practicing self-compassion while being on a diet leads to physiological and emotional wellbeing. It also helps to bounce back faster from the setbacks and decreases emotional eating (source).