Millions of people are working out in the gym every day in the hopes of losing fat, but with less than stellar results. If you are one of these people, it’s very likely you are doing some of the mistakes that we’ll go over in this article.
The majority of us spend countless years training in order to get slimmer and get rid of the extra body fat, but mostly in vain. Our weight fluctuates a lot and we can’t seem to maintain a steady weight. We can’t even maintain the target weight we have achieved after a prolonged fat-loss period and get back the lost pounds almost instantly.
That is mostly due to us being undisciplined and inconsistent in regards to our food choices. Our motivation and enthusiasm to lose the extra fat can quickly fade away leading to unaccomplished New Year’s resolutions and disappointment. Fat-loss might be an universal goal for all people getting into fitness, but it is most certainly not an easy one.
If you’ve still been struggling to lose fat all these years and haven’t had much of a result, chances are you making some or all of the mistakes below. We are here to point out those mistakes and get you back on the path to getting your ideal physique.
The 20 Most Common Fat-Loss Mistakes and how to fix them
1. Relying on non-expert quick weight loss tips
You need to do your research and invest in a good diet plan. A good nutritionist will compile a plan that you can follow and monitor. A good nutritionist will answer a thousand questions and give you the right directions. All the money invested will pay off and you will save a lot of time looking for a variety of materials and advice. And remember, there are no quick fat loss programs.
If you are unable to consult a nutritionist, read on:
2. Trying to lose fat too fast
We live in an age of instant gratification so it’s no wonder that people are accustomed to getting instant results. The same goes for fitness, and they try to follow some magic plan to cut the fat instantly. You should always look out for diet plans that offer quick fixes, since there is no such thing. These types of plans usually incorporate severe caloric restriction, total elimination of certain types of foods and macronutrients, all kinds of so-called “body cleanses” or any other kind of extreme fat-loss tactic.
The biggest reason why these plans are not working is that they aren’t sustainable in the long-term, not to mention the serious risks they can pose to your health. The fact is that such a drastic approach to changing your diet will almost inevitably result in developing eating disorders, going on binges in comparison to taking a more flexible approach.
Additionally, losing weight fast will usually result in losing more muscle mass in comparison to a slow weight-loss. No study has ever proven that taking such drastic changes can result in a sustainable, healthy weight loss.
When going on fat loss diet, try to lose up to 1% of body-weight each week, which is approximately 1-1.5 pounds per week for the majority of people. Do this by employing a flexible approach, consuming diverse types of foods from every food group, unless explicitly stated by your doctor not to, due to some medical condition you might have.
3. You simply eat too much and don’t count calories
This might have given you a ‘duh’ moment, but it bears repeating since the majority of people have absolutely no clue as to how much calories they are consuming per day. A perfect example would be ordering a salad. Salad is healthy and nutritious, right? It is, but did you stop to consider how many calories might be in that salad?
Some salads can pack 500-600 calories without you realizing it. Where do all those calories came from, you might ask. Well, what about the various dressings, sauces, ketchup and all kinds of oils. These products add up a significant amount of calories. This is especially true for those who eat don’t cook regularly, but dine in restaurants.
The simplest explanation on how to lose weight is simply eating fewer calories than you actually burn calories throughout the day. However, this explanation vastly simplifies the process, much to the detriment of those who have taken up the advice. That means that, hypothetically, this methodology would work if you consumed, for example, 1600 calories coming from cheesecake alone per day and burned 1800.
But the human body doesn’t work that way. The type of macronutrients those calories come from is vital. For example, getting all your calories from carbohydrates won’t help you reach your weight-loss goals. The body needs a healthy ratio of protein, carbs and healthy fats in order to burn fat and build muscle.
The majority of people respond great to 40/40/20 ratio of proteins, carbs and fats respectively. When all your daily calories come from this ratio of macronutrients you will have created a base upon which you can start your fat-loss pursuit. This doesn’t mean that the ratio will apply to all body types and goals, it simply means that most people would benefit from it.
It’s up to you to do the necessary research and find what ratio works best for you. Lots of people would need to drop their carbohydrate intake substantially in order to burn fat. In that case, you would need to make sure that you increase your fat consumption for at least a slight amount so that your body can use an alternative fuel for energy. Which brings us to the following errors …
4. Too many snacks between meals
With snacks you are actually cutting the time between meals. While dried fruits can be used after training to refill glycogen reserves, stuffing yourself with dried fruits or nuts will not satisfy hunger completely, and yet it can drastically increase your caloric intake.
5. You don’t consume enough protein
We all know that protein is the key nutrient when it comes to building and repairing muscle tissue. However, it appears it does more than that. A study published in “Journal of nutrition” followed two groups of overweight women who ingested the same amount of calories. One of the groups consumed twice as much protein as the other, and the group that did, lost a lot more weight than the group who didn’t consume much protein.
Protein is very satiating and helps you feel less hungry, which in turn makes you eat a lot less during the day. Being on diets rich in protein has been proven to have positive effects on blood lipids’ levels, glucose levels and muscle-to-fat ratio.
Even though protein is a great macronutrient for losing fat, simply adding some protein shakes into your diet is not going to cut it. To be able to lose fat at a consistent rate you would need discipline and dedication to a sound diet plan. The thing to remember is: always include high-protein foods in every meal throughout the day, whilst keeping the carbs moderate to low, and you will see results a lot faster.
6. Cutting off certain foods
Yes, in order to lose fat you do need to cut off some foods, but excessive denial of “bad” foods will only make you crave them more. Instead, treat yourself a cheat meal once in a while, like once a week or so. A common rule of a thumb is: if 90% of your diet consists of good quality food, then 10% of junk food will not ruin your diet. A ball of ice cream here and there or a piece of chocolate after workout will not make you fat, but with these foods you need to be really careful.
7. Too much alcohol and soft drinks
Water is the only liquid that is ever really needed by your body. Although coffee, milk and tea have become an ordinary thing in our modern lifestyles, they contain a lot of sugar which can seriously undermine your fat-loss efforts. Your latte that you order in the cafeteria every morning can have up to 300 calories per drink.
Those are additional 300 calories per day that you wouldn’t want to be consuming unless you are serious about your fat-loss goals. Fat-loss is an arduous process, don’t make it any harder than it has to be.
It goes without saying that alcohol is very detrimental to your fat-loss pursuit. The occasional beer will not make a huge difference, of course, but drinking massive amounts during the weekends will definitely put the fat-loss process to a grind. Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories that the body usually stores as fat, but they are also detrimental when it comes to the food choices you make when you are under the influence. A big plate of nachos or pizza will always seem like the best choice when you are intoxicated instead of some healthy option.
8. You think that healthy foods are low on calories
No matter how “clean” or healthy you think a certain food is, if you eat it in large amounts, you will almost certainly consume more calories than you should, which will make your fat loss a lot harder. Choosing whole foods that are nutritious and healthy is certainly the right way to go, but overeating this kind of food still counts as overeating.
The two biggest healthy food examples that have huge amounts of calories are seeds and nuts. They are filled with Omega-3 fats, phytogens and all sorts of micronutrients which have been proven to be excellent for your health, but as any other food, if you eat too much you run the risk of ingesting too many calories. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should avoid them altogether, it simply means that you should exercise moderation when it comes to their consumption.
It’s difficult to measure an ounce, so you should limit the amount to 10 almonds. Even though almonds are rich in quality fats, a better option would be to fill yourself up with foods that are rich in micronutrients, like green veggies, that don’t have that many calories.
9. Too Many Cheat Meals
Some weight loss experts recommend people to incorporate pre-planned cheat meals or entire cheat days into their eating regime. The primary purpose of this is to give yourself a mental break from trying so hard to constrain your cravings for the food you’re not supposed to be eating – simply put, it’s a way to reward yourself for your hard dieting efforts.
In addition, cheat days can have a beneficial effect on your levels of leptin. Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells and it’s crucial to maintaining energy balance in the body. When your leptin levels reach a certain threshold, the brain is signaled that you have sufficient energy stored and there’s no risk of starvation, which then tells you to stop eating. And when leptin levels dramatically drop (for example, when you’re starving yourself as we’ve discussed above), hunger signals go through the roof and often the result is overeating.
Dieting for prolonged periods of time causes a general drop in leptin levels, which overtime can increase the potential for uncontrolled binging. Allowing yourself a high-carb cheat meal now and then can prevent this from happening and help you regulate your leptin levels. However, it’s best to avoid cheating before you’ve already made some considerable progress and you’ve grown comfortable with the dietary changes you’ve made. While some people find cheating days a great strategy to deter binges in the long run, others find that this approach only increases their desire for bad foods and makes it even harder for them to stick to their diet.
As two of its main functions is to transport nutrients into and out of the cells and help in the elimination of toxins and waste from the body, water is essential for the healthy functioning of the entire organism. If this is so, why do Americans in average, fail to drink enough water during the day? Based on certain estimates, the average American drinks only 3 cups of water per day, which is clearly much less than the recommended 8. Furthermore, if water is the essence of life and a crucial component of a health, why do we neglect to remind ourselves to drink more water while dieting or during periods of strenuous physical activity?
According to scientists and weight loss experts alike, when trying to lose weight, proper hydration is as important as getting all your macronutrients. Besides being the best original and natural detoxifier you can ever have, it’s calorie-free, inexpensive and could be the key missing link to maintaining a healthy weight.
One recent study published in the journal Annals of Family Medicine found that the link between staying hydrated and staying slim is much stronger than most of us think. More specifically, the results showed that subjects who were less hydrated were more likely to have a higher body mass index (BMI) than those who drank plenty of water during the day. Naturally, the authors don’t consider this a coincidence, and neither should you.
11. You don’t train with enough intensity
When beginners are introduced to resistance training they begin with lighter weights and progress in a slow and safe manner. As time goes by and they get more experienced and accustomed to the exercises, weights and the gym atmosphere, they need to push harder in order to keep progressing. This applies to everyone. You cannot allow to get comfortable or you will reach a plateau.
If you want to lose fat, you need to create an extra demand of energy to your body so that it can adapt and change. If you keep lifting the same weights you won’t stimulate your body to do anything and will keep you stagnant. So you should always try to increase the intensity of your workout, either by increasing the weight,volume or simply decreasing the rest periods between exercises and sets. Which brings us to the next issue…
12. Exercising with light weights only
There is this common belief that once someone is starting a fat-loss diet, they should drop any training program they’ve been doing up to then and switch to exercising with light weights using high reps, instead of continuing with the weights they had used before, that built their hard earned muscle mass which burns fat to sustain itself. This doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with doing some high-rep, light-weight work. All rep ranges provide their own unique benefits when used for a specific purpose.
However, eliminating heavy weights from your training will only result in loss of muscle tissue. People usually use light weights in combination with decreased rest intervals between sets attempting to elevate their heart rate and burn more calories. But, using light weights results in a low overall training tonnage(the total amount of weight you lift during a workout). This isn’t what you want since it’s been proven that training volume is one of the key elements to achieving optimal muscle hypertrophy.
What you should do instead is continue training with progressively heavy weights by using low, medium and high rep ranges and sensible rest intervals.
13. You use your intense workout as an excuse
“I did a great workout so now I can treat myself a piece of cake or a burger”. Well, fat loss does not work that way. The nutrition plan that was made for you usually takes the exercise in consideration in the total recommended calorie intake. Training is not an excuse for overeating, but a more efficient tool to reach your goal.
14. You overdo the low-intensity cardio
At first, this might seem contradictory to the previous post where we advise you to train more intensely, but it is actually not. The key part is that cardio training is not actually resistance training. It is located on the other end of the fitness spectrum since it is concerned with a completely different aspect of fitness itself. You wouldn’t expect to get the same results from walking on the treadmill for two hours as you would get from an hour-long intense heavy lifting.
Research has shown that if you do cardio too frequently, the longer its duration and the lower its intensity becomes, which will increasingly interfere with your muscle and strength building efforts.
If you really want to reap the rewards of cardio training, do some full-body workouts involving multiple muscle groups and keep your rest intervals short or just do shorter but more demanding cardio sessions. When you engage your entire body and shorten the rest intervals, not only will you challenge your muscular system, you will also challenge your cardiovascular system. That’s a concept some would call training economy.
15. You are relying too much on supplements
Not a single supplement you take will make up for any inconsistency in your training or dietary habits, which is the basis of any good weight-loss plan. Their name says it. Supplements are here to supplement your diet not comprise the bulk of it. They should be used to supplement a workout and diet plan that are already on solid foundations. Even the most effective supplements that have been proven to work won’t be a deciding factor in your progress or compensate for a poor diet.
Instead, get your nutrition dialed in, follow a good workout plan and add some cardio and you will start seeing results soon enough.
16. You’re way too stressed
You might have heard that stress is a silent killer. When responding to stressful situations or environments, your body releases cortisol that is way above and beyond the normal threshold. When cortisol levels are chronically elevated they can cause increased storage of body fat and multiple other unwanted outcomes. You can have both your training and diet and check but if you are subject to too much stress, your fat-loss goals will be far harder to achieve.
The simplest advice would be to try to relax. However, in most of the cases that is easier said than done. You could try various relaxation techniques that could make a huge difference in your overall health and a big impact on your body. Examples include yoga, reading a book, taking a relaxing bath, seeing a movie or just meditating for 20 minutes.
17. You don’t get enough sleep
The same as stress, being deprived of sleep also raises your cortisol levels, which is another big fat-loss mistake. Also, when you don’t get enough sleep, your cells’ insulin sensitivity drops. When you combine both of these things, the environment in your body is becoming completely detrimental to fat-loss.
In order to achieve your fitness goals, you should put a high priority on getting enough sleep. A wild night out, filled with booze, passing out for a few hours, then going to work the next day isn’t exactly something your body will react positively to.
You should aim for at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Some helpful strategies you should utilize are turning off all your electronic devices before going to bed, avoid drinking caffeine in the late hours or just create an all-around relaxing atmosphere before hitting the sack.
18. You are monitoring progress only by weighing
Although weighing gives you some statistics of your progress it could also give you false statistics. If you workout and go by a diet plan, you are actually recomposing your body. This means that while you lose fat, you are gaining muscle. Muscles are heavier than fat, so you will see visual improvements even if the scale stays the same week after week. Use a tailor’s tape to measure yourself, take picture of yourself, and measure your weight only once a week. Make sure that all measurements are taken in the same conditions, eg. In the morning, on an empty stomach etc.
19. Blaming your genes
People like excuses. Genetics, hormones, heavy bones. Stop using excuses and get to work. There is a greater possibility that your bad choices lead to unwanted looks, than bad genetics.
There is no magic tool or pill for fat loss, there is not such thing as so bad genetics that keeps you from getting in shape. Certain conditions and diseases can slow your progress, or you make it a difficult job, but they can not stop you on your way to the finish line.
20. Being inconsistent
As we already said, everyone’s used to seeing immediate results. That’s why when modern people don’t see any noticeable results as fast as they’d want which is usually within a few days, they get easily discouraged and frustrated. This leads to small cracks in their dietary habits and before you know it they’ve given up on their nutrition and training altogether.
Being inconsistent will slow down your progress over time which eventually leads most people to totally abandon their goals of getting shredded. You need to learn to be patient. Losing fat is a slow process, as well as building muscle. In order to elicit long-term body transformation, you need time.
Keep in mind that your road to weight loss will sometimes be bumpy and unpleasant and you won’t always feel the same level of motivation and determination as you did on the first day of the journey. Beginnings are exciting because they promise change at the end of the road, however, the way you face the mid-road difficulties and challenges matters infinitely more than making huge promises to yourself.
There will be good ways and bad days. The important thing is to never let the bad ones get to you. Whenever you slip up, simply remind yourself of all the reasons why you started this in the first place, get back up and try again. On a mental level, weight loss is all about building resiliency and mental fortitude, two great benefits that you will later become able to apply on all areas of life.
At first it will be hard to resist your cravings or to make yourself go to the gym when you don’t feel like it, but it will get easier with practice. Be prepared that you can’t strengthen your willpower overnight – that will take some time but we guarantee that it will be worth the effort. Also, surround yourself with as many people who share the same goals so that you can motivate each other to continue forward. As long as you remain focused and consistent, results will inevitably follow!