By Naomi Rabon, NW Fitness Team Trainer

You have goals – very specific physique transformation goals that you want to achieve. And in order to achieve those goals, you know you need to really lift heavy, clean up your nutrition, and stay consistent with what you choose to put into your mouth because you’ve heard more times than you can count the following phrases:

“Nutrition is key”
“You can’t out-train a bad diet”
“Progress is 85-90% nutrition”

…blah, blah, blah


Part of body recomposition is losing body fat, and you’ve heard for the most part that weight loss comes down to calories in vs calories out. This is true – to a point. When we think of calories in vs calories out, we tend to think of it in very simplistic, black and white terms: all we need to do in order to achieve our body recomposition goals is to be in an energy deficit where we burn more calories than we’re taking in right? If only it were that simple.

The human body is way too complex (and way too smart) for things to operate that simply. One of the biggest flaws, or overlooked factors, in the calories in/calories out, or If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM), approach is homeostasis. Homeostasis is where the human body adapts and self-regulates its biological systems – including hormones – in order to maintain a stable environment.


One of the main self-regulating features of a caloric deficit is that your body will intentionally start to slow down your metabolism since there aren’t as many calories coming in as are being expended. So, the rate at which calories are being used up, or the rate at which energy is being burned, will slow down. If you think about this same concept in financial terms, it would be as if you were spending more money than you were making. If you didn’t have the option of making more money (increasing calories), your only option to get out of a deficit would be to decrease the rate at which you are spending (decrease calorie expenditure).

From your body’s perspective, it would tell you that you either need to increase your calories or decrease your activity. But if you don’t do either (because you have those physique transformation goals, right?), then your body will be forced to slow down your metabolic rate, or the rate at which you’re using energy.

But what happens if you’re already down to 1,400 calories, or 1,200 calories, and your metabolism isn’t budging, the scale isn’t budging, and everything has just completely stalled. This is where a lot of people end up having metabolic and hormonal issues due to yo-yo dieting, crash dieting or long-term severe dieting.

Ironically, you don’t need less food and more cardio, you need more food and less cardio to get your metabolism going again. But fear that increased calories and decreased exercise may cause weight gain can keep people in a crash-dieting loop nightmare, wreaking even more havoc on an already taxed metabolism, which makes physique goals even harder to achieve.


To reach your physique goals, you can’t always be in a caloric deficit or focused on weight loss. You won’t reach your goals that way, especially if you want to build quality muscle. If you want to transform your body by increasing your lean muscle tissue and decrease the amount of body fat you carry, follow these tips:

1. Embrace maintenance calories or surplus In order to maintain a healthy metabolism, one that will respond to even the slightest caloric deficit, you should spend most of your time in maintenance calories or even a slight surplus. This will keep your metabolism in a healthy place so that when you are ready to do a temporary “cut” or leaning out phase occasionally (a few times per year at most), your body should respond very well.

2. Focus on quality foods Whether you’re eating in a surplus to build muscle, in a maintenance phase, or in a deficit, the quality of food you put in your body can affect your results. Building muscle requires quality nourishment, not just a certain amount of calories, to put on quality muscle. In a maintenance phase, the quality of food (not just the amount of calories and macros) could be the difference between maintaining your physique or starting to digress. The same goes for a caloric deficit or cut – always choose nourishing foods over empty calories, especially in a deficit when your body isn’t taking in a lot of calories and nourishment to begin with.

3. Weight gain can be positive, just as weight loss can be undesireable If you want to change your body composition, you have to gain muscle, and gaining muscle is a weight-gaining process. If you want to lose body fat, that isn’t necessarily a weight-loss process; it is a fat-loss and body recomposition process that may have nothing to do with the numbers you see on the scale. By the same token, if you lose weight on the scale, you may be losing quality muscle and slowing down your metabolism even more, which could hinder your progress.

Things aren’t always what they seem, especially when it comes to body recompositon and physique transformation. If you think that you have to be in a caloric deficit, exercising twice a day, 5-7 days per week and taking in less calories than you’re burning, think again! And if you think that weight gain means you’re not making any progress, and eating a healthy amount of calories in a maintenance or surplus range seems scary, you might want to try to change your perspective and embrace these concepts to get your metabolism revving and truly see just how far your body can transform.

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Naomi-lighterBIOOne of the trainers on Nicole’s elite NW Fitness Training Team, Naomi is a certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Specialist through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is a NPC Figure competitor who has been involved in the health and fitness industry for over 12 years.

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