11 Aug Struggling To Lose Weight? – Mistakes People Make When Trying to Shed Pounds
The topic I get asked about the most is about weight loss. Many people struggle with dropping those unwanted pounds. Some cases the person isn’t doing what they need to do to lose weight (even though in their mind they think they are). There are cases where a person is working really hard and the results just aren’t coming. In today’s post I’m going to highlight some of the mistakes I see people make when trying to lose weight.
1) Cut Too Many Calories – We’ve all heard the saying “calories in vs. calories out”. You must burn more than you consume to lose weight. Yes, this is true, a caloric deficit needs to be made to lose weight. The problem is, people cut way too many calories (and cut them too fast as well). People need to understand, when losing weight you need to be thinking long term, not the quick fix, so under-nourishing or starving yourself shouldn’t even be an option. Your goal should be a slight caloric deficit while making better foods choices. What happens when you cut too many calories, you lose weight fast up front but as a defense mechanism your body will adjust its hormones to slow down the weight loss. Remember your body wants to keep you alive, so fast weight loss the body goes into storage mode. On top of that, when on an extremely low calories diet you’ll lose muscle tissue as well which further throws off your hormones and slows down your metabolism. This sets people up for disaster. Not only is it much harder to lose weight now, but if you fall off the bandwagon you’ll put even more weight back on. I don’t even coach my clients to cut calories. I have them focus on making better food choices and have them eating consistently throughout the day. I’ve had great results with this approach.
2) Too Much Cardio – If you follow my posts, I’m pretty hard on cardio. I’m not 100% against doing cardio, I just feel it’s emphasized way too much when trying to lose weight. Again to lose weight the body needs to be burning and cardio is a great way to burn calories. Unfortunately when cardio is the main focus of the program, we see similar patterns to the low-calorie dilemma. The weight loss slows down, requiring more and more cardio to be done to see progress. We also lose lean muscle tissue (especially those who do steady state cardio only) and throw our hormones out of whack. When trying to lose weight, your focal point needs to be a solid strength training program. Lean muscle tissue will help the body become more efficient at burning fat, increase your insulin sensitivity, and make you look and feel better. With this method, the scale moves slower (muscle is more dense than fat) but the inches come off like crazy and you don’t have to worry about looking skinny fat. I try to program 4 days a week of strength training with cardio sprinkled in 2-3 times a week.
3) Juicing – Juicing has grown in popularity over the last few years. I myself have high powered blenders and juicers in my kitchen. They taste good and it’s a convenient way to make protein or meal replacement shakes. Here’s the problem with juicing when trying to lose weight. When you juice (especially squeezed juices) you lose the fiber which normally slows down the body’s insulin response to the sugar from the fruit. Without the fiber, these juices are just sugar loaded insulin spiking drinks that can set your weight loss goals back. Typically one bottle of the common juices you see at the grocery store will have close to 70 grams of sugar (typically listed around 30-35g per serving with a bottle being 2 servings). Not exactly ideal when trying to lose weight. If you can’t stay away from juicing, I suggest if you’re trying to lose weight, stay away from the juicing.
4) Binging On Food & Alcohol on Cheat Days – Many people really set themselves back with this one here. I’m a believer in cheat meals (or reward meals) for being consistent and staying disciplined. The problem is many people take this to mean it’s okay to binge eat. Factor this is in with the pics bodybuilders post of their cheat meals where they have the beer and whole pizza, the average person thinks this is what they can do as well. A person in shape who has a lot of lean muscle already can get away with binging on a cheat day. They’ve already put in the hard work where their body can handle a day or 2 of completely cheating on the diet. A person trying to lose weight doesn’t have that luxury. Their body doesn’t respond the same to binging on the weekends, and many can put up to 10 pounds back on really fast. Now most of this is water weight but mentally it just throws people off to see that. I recommend to clients looking to lose a lot of weight to plan their cheat meal on a day where they are strength training, and make the cheat meal their post workout meal. This way the cheat meal won’t be detrimental to their progress. Some make the mistake of keeping the diet clean but binging on alcohol which in my opinion is a big mistake. Many people don’t realize alcohol has calories, typically 7 calories per gram (almost twice as many as carbs or protein which have 4). Binging on alcohol is a calorie disaster which can set the progress back. I also read that when alcohol gets broken down it causes fat storage in problem areas (think of the man with the beer gut). When trying to lose I suggest cutting the alcohol for a while, until you get closer to your ideal weight.
5) Not Drinking Enough Water – This is a mistake 9 out 10 people I work with make. Hydration is so important, yet most people never make it a priority. I ask people all the time, “how much water have you had?” They’ll respond with something like 8 cups. First I know for a fact they didn’t count how many they had (when you say “like” you’re guessing), and they overestimate how many they had. Even if they did have 8 cups, that’s not enough. We should be striving for at least a gallon of water for the day. I’ve even talked with some nutritionists who suggest a gallon and a half to 2 gallons based on activity level. I tell people all the time many would feel better in general, just by being hydrated. It’s great for your energy levels, cellular health, and most importantly when losing weight it helps elevate your metabolism. Drinking a gallon a day is one of the best habits I’ve adopted and I suggest you try it too! Get tired of plain old drinking water, put some lemon, lime, and/or cucumber slices in there, it makes it much more enjoyable.
6) No Plan – The biggest issue the average person makes when going on a weight loss plan is that they go at it by themselves. They just go and do some different things with no real plan or progression in place. This is a disaster and will lead to nothing but frustration. Exercise and nutrition are very complex, this why they are offered as college majors. There’s a lot that goes into this and the average person doesn’t have a clue on what to do. If you’re new to this, the worst thing you can do is go at it alone. If elite bodybuilders and athletes have trainers, coaches, and nutritionists, you definitely need to invest the money and get help from professionals. I talk with people all the time who think they are doing the right things but when I hear what they are doing, they are completely wrong. For example, I’ve talked with people who told me they are on low carb diets. They brag about how they cut pasta, rice, and dessert from their diets. Great right? Kind of. I’ll ask them what they ate today and it usually involved fruit juice, bread, and oatmeal, all carb filled foods. They didn’t know all the foods that contain carbs and sugar, they assumed they were low carb because they gave up some carb filled foods. You don’t know what you don’t know, and what you don’t know will hurt you. Don’t be cheap, get help, so you can have the blueprint to your goals.
These are just some of the many mistakes I see people make when trying to lose weight. Remember when trying to lose weight, you need to think long term and not instant results. This is a lifestyle change, so your priority is to have healthier habits. Pick better foods, hit the weight room, control your cheat meals, and stay hydrated and you’ll be on the path of long-term health.