I know what it’s like to be told just “eat clean and you’ll lose weight”. “you don’t need to count calories to lose weight”. “Just do the low-carb diet and you’ll lose weight because carbs will make you fat.” These statements, although they may be well-intentioned, won’t be productive for you losing weight. And that’s why I’ve decided to write an article about the 5 biggest weight-loss mistakes that are stopping you from getting lean.
1. You’re Eating/ Drinking Too Much Or Too Little To Lose Weight Consistently – Don’t Make These Weight Loss Mistakes
You probably know this already but it’s important. It’s very easy to say to some one you’re eating too much. Yet it’s a lot harder to tell that very same person how much they should be eating. Or even knowing yourself if you’re unaware of what to do.
In contrast it’s a lot more common to eat too little food. Some people eat only a few hundred calories and expect because their calories are so low that they will lose more weight. They will but it won’t be fat. It will most likely be muscle which is unproductive because your goal should be fat loss. This is especially true when they see their weight decrease rapidly on the scale. This gives a false sense of progress.
Contrary to popular belief when you go on extremely low calorie diets your body doesn’t go into “starvation mode”. Your basal metabolic rate (bmr) which means the amount of calories your body burns when doing nothing at all. Slows down by 5-15% for most people when your calories are reduced extremely low. As low as if your calories were in the hundreds.
Don’t Drastically Reduce Your Calories ( To Make Sure That The Weight You Lose Isn’t Muscle, You Can’t Cut Too Many Calories)
So what does this look like for you or someone reducing their calories drastically. Here is an example. Say for example you have a total daily energy expenditure (tdee) of 2000 calories which means all the calories your body burns in a day.
A moderate deficit of 500- 600 calories would allow you to lose upwards of a pound of fat a week because 3500 calories are in a pound of fat. And 500×7 = 3500 so a calorie amount of 1500 every day would be a good place to start to lose weight.
But if you were in a 1000 calorie deficit then you would be hungry a lot of the time. You wouldn’t have as much energy in general and especially when working out. As working out allows you to retain your muscle mass you want to ensure you at least have enough energy to train. Because of this excessive calorie deficit extra energy has to come from somewhere and if you’re not training hard and getting enough protein your body will use your muscle tissue as a source of energy and break it down. Thus losing muscle mass.
So a bigger deficit would help you lose weight faster but you would still be losing the same amount of fat but losing more muscle resulting in a worse body composition look and would result in you being a smaller weaker version of yourself.
This is because the larger the deficit the more weight you will lose. But it’s not weight you want to lose its fat. You want to be losing 1-2 pounds a week at the most. Depending on how aggressive you want to be with your calorie deficit a range from 20-30% should be sufficient.
What To Do Instead
Eat in a 20-30% calorie deficit.
Get on the scale to make sure you’re losing weight.
Take measurements especially at your naval. which is across your stomach.
Take progress pictures.
2. You’re Not Training – Don’t Make These Weight Loss Mistakes
So when I say training I don’t mean merely exercise. The most effective way to train is by using weights. But if you can only do bodyweight training you can still make great progress.
You want to be prioritising your training around movements such as barbell back squats/ front squats, Bench press, overhead press, and the deadlift. or any variations of these movements.
If you want to only do bodyweight training base your training around bodyweight squats, push ups, and pull ups or inverted rows.
The reason you want to be doing multi joint compound movements like the ones I’ve just mentioned is because they use the most amount of muscle mass, build the most amount of muscle and get you the strongest.
When you build more muscle your body will burn more calories to support and maintain that muscle which means your tdee will rise the more muscle you build and the end result is eating more calories while being in a deficit and losing fat.
What To Do Instead
commit to a weight training or bodyweight program at least 3 times a week.
Commit to doing the compound exercises for example the barbell bench press , barbell squat and deadlift. If bodyweight only commit to doing push ups, bodyweight squats, and pull ups/ inverted rows.
Use full range of motion and proper technique.
Don’t prioritise cardio.
3. You’re Not Prioritising Your Food Choices Around Whole Foods – Don’t Make These Weight Loss Mistakes
You don’t have to eat completely clean to lose fat. But you do want to make sure that most of the food your eating is coming from whole foods.
A good rule of thumb is to eat 80-90% of your diet through whole foods, Basically lean meats, different kinds of fruits and vegetables , starchy carbs, pulses, legumes and grains ands anything along this line. I even like to count bread in this category. There’s nothing wrong with bread as long as you can easily digest it.
Contrary to popular belief you can lose weight while eating bread. As long as your in a calorie deficit you will lose fat.
The 80/20 Rule For Sticking To Your Nutrition
Say you need to eat 2000 calories to lose weight. For 20% of these calories you could eat something like a chocolate bar or some pizza, a burger or anything along those lines. 20% of your calories is a good amount of food to limit your junky goodness foods to. Without becoming a hedonist and having a full junk food diet.
You should know that the healthy whole foods that I previously mentioned contain a vast amount of micronutrients and minerals to make sure that you stay healthy. Not only will these foods allow you to stay healthy they will fill you up. Which is extremely important for adherence and to stick out the process to losing a meaningful amount of fat.
Sure you can lose weight eating only McDonalds hamburgers but its not healthy if all you ate were hamburgers/ sweets but you hit your calorie deficit then you would lose weight. But you would feel terrible and leave yourself susceptible to multiple nutrient deficiencies.
Yes a McDonalds hamburger does contain protein , carbs and fat. But it’s extremely processed and has trans fats which are detrimental to your health. Be careful not to eat too much of these foods. Trans fats exist in cereals, some spreads, fried foods and very heavily processed foods. Look out for hydrogenated oils or trans fats on your food packaging.
What To Do Instead
Eat in a moderate calorie deficit of 20-30%.
Aim to get 0.8 to 1 gram per pound of bodyweight of protein.
Eat 80-90% of your calories from whole foods.
Avoid trans fats.
4. You’re Not Tracking Your Food Accurately – Don’t Make These Weight Loss Mistakes
This can easily happen. But the best practice is to get a kitchen scale and watch out for hidden calories.
If you don’t know what hidden calories are a good example of this is the vast amount of extra calories that you get served when you go to a restaurant. Or when you drink a full sugar Pepsi without accounting for the extra calories from the sugar.
It’s important to prepare your own food and make sure that you’re getting the right amount of calories for you. Especially when trying to lose fat.
Beware Of Fats (Too Many Fats Can Lead To Overeating When You’re Trying To Lose Weight)
Fats aren’t the enemy in fact they are one of the essential macronutrients for our health a long with protein. They play a vital role in producing your hormones, hair and skin. But you don’t actually need that much in your diet.
Having up to 20-30% of your diet from fat is perfectly fine. But it can be easy to underestimate your fat intake.
Fat is the most calorie dense macronutrient at 9 calories per gram as opposed to 4 calories in protein and carbs and 7 in alcohol.
If you don’t accurately measure foods like butter, cheese, olive oil and other fatty foods you can over estimate your calories.
Remember when I said that you need a calorie deficit to lose weight. Eating too many calories will erase that deficit and make weight loss impossible. You don’t have to be this strict with your calories all the time when looking to maintain or build muscle you can be more flexible with your intake.
What You Should Do Instead
You need to be accurate with your calories.
Do this by using a food scale and eating whole foods.
How much you’re eating is much more important than what your eating when it comes to weight loss.
5. You’re Not Patient Enough ( Losing Weight Takes Time)
Losing fat can take a while. Especially if you have a lot to to lose. But not to worry it will just take a bit longer.
But know that if you stick out the process long enough you can reach your fitness goals.
Below is a picture of different body fat percentages.
To give you an example. If your currently a male at 40% body fat and want to get to 15% body fat then you will need to lose 25% of fat.
If the male who wants to lose fat is 200 pounds for example he’d have to lose roughly 50 pounds to get to that body fat percentage.
Generally speaking you want to lose 1-2 pounds per week although if your body fat percentage is really high it’s acceptable to lose a bit more but that’s another post.
But to make it simple if you lost 1-2 pounds a week every week for a year (52 weeks) you could easily lose 52 pounds in a year maybe even in 6 months you could get to a healthy body fat percentage.
This just goes to show that small improvements in your diet and lifestyle make big changes towards your health.
You Don’t Need To Rush This
Patience truly is a virtue and just know that if you do the right things consistently like staying in a calorie deficit for long enough and taking your body weight measurements with your scale and measuring tape you can 100% get to your goal. And probably quicker than you thought.
The truth is most of the time us humans are in a rush to make progress and we overestimate how much progress can be made in the short term but underestimate the compounding results that we can achieve in the long run.
Do This Instead
Focus on what you can control like maintaining a calorie deficit and tracking your measurements and progress.
Think of the reasons why you want to achieve your goals. Write them down and keep them somewhere so that you will see them.
Reasons could be to
Set a good example to your kids and friends.
Be the type of person who reaches his/her goals
Have more energy
Have a healthier body and mind
These are just a few reasons of potentially many.
Remember to trust the process. And that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Start now and in 6 months to a year you’ll be glad that you started. Also remember to celebrate your progress and reach out to me if you need any extra help at all at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Bottom Line On 5 Weight Loss Mistakes Stopping You From Getting Lean
- Make sure you have the right amount of calories to lose weight.
- incorporate some weight training or bodyweight training.
- Your food needs to mainly come from whole foods.
- You need to accurately track your food.
- You need to be patient and trust the process.
A lot of these weight loss mistakes were ones that I have made and I’m sure that some of you will have done too. It’s frustrating but just knowing these facts will make dieting easier for you. So that you can get to a healthy body fat percentage and build some muscle and get in the best shape of your life.
For more on developing the right mental attitude to fitness read my article below.