Trying to lose weight but not getting anywhere? Maybe you lose a pound or two and then put it back on over the weekend. Not sure what you’re doing wrong? You could be simply making some of these weight loss mistakes which could be causing you to waste time, money and effort on a diet which simply isn’t working. Check out this article on my top 10 weight loss mistakes to ensure you’re doing everything you can to get to your dream body.
10.) Not eating enough protein.
When it comes down to it, most people don’t eat enough protein. Which is understandable, the UK government currently recommends we eat a diet high in processed carbohydrates, processed fats and very little protein. Look, chances are if you are trying to lose weight then you are exercising. If you’re exercising then you need to recover, and that’s where protein comes in. Protein is essential for recovery, not just from your workouts but from illnesses, injuries and really just day to day life. However, there is another reason I almost always up my clients protein intake when they’re trying to lose weight. Protein is far more thermogenic than carbohydrates or fats. What does that mean? Well simply put, for your body to use and digest protein it needs more energy than to use and digest both carbohydrates and fats, and more energy means more calories burnt.
9.) Not getting enough Sleep
Sleep is essential. You need at least 7 to 9 hours a night. This is for recovery, rest, relaxation and also hormone production and regulation. Studies show that people who get enough sleep have better workouts and have better levels of the hormones Leptin and Ghrelin. Want to know more about those hormones and why they are essential to weight loss? Check out this article here.
8.) Not eating enough vegetables
This is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes there is. You know you need to do it, but you don’t want to, maybe you don’t like to eat vegetables. Unfortunately for you, not eating them could be holding you back from your goals. Vegetables (and fruit) contact tons of micronutrients, that’s vitamins, minerals and fibre. They’re mainly water too, so you can technically hydrate yourself with celery, spinach and cucumber if you really wanted to. We’ll get more into vitamins and minerals towards the end of the article. But think of it like this, if you’re eating a high protein diet with very little fibre and vitamins. Not only is your body not going to absorb the nutrients from your food as well, but you’re going to be on the toilet for a very long time trying to make your constipation go away.
7.) Drinking your calories
So you’ve just been invited out by your mates at the weekend. It’s just a few beers, it’s fine. Well guess what a pint of beer can contain 180+ calories. So even if you only have three or four, you’ve just added 720 calories to your day! So maybe you’ve read that and said you don’t go out much, or you don’t drink. Well, what about other drinks? Cola, juices, milkshakes etc. All contain calories and are all full of sugar, and sometimes fat. This is fine in most cases, although not ideal, so long as you add them into your calories for the day. But most people don’t, they think because it’s a drink for some reason the calories don’t count. I could go on and on, juices have a lot of the nutrients taken out of them when they’re processed for example… but I think i’ll leave that can of worms unopened.
6.) Not tracking what you’re eating
Okay, let’s examine this. So you’ve just been through a full week of eating. You’ve made all the right choices, but you aren’t losing any weight and you’re wondering why. Well, how do you know how many calories you’re eating? It could be anywhere from 500 calories to 5000 calories, how do you know? The answer is you don’t, you might have a rough idea. Which is great, but i would highly advise getting a calorie tracker that you can scan your foods into to log how many calories, macronutrients and vitamins you’re getting on a day to day basis, especially if this is your first time seriously trying to lose weight.
5.) Eating too little
This is one of the most dangerous weight loss mistakes i’ve seen in all my time advising people on weight loss. You need to be in a calorie deficit to lose weight. That means you need to eat less than is required for your body to maintain itself. But physically starving yourself is not the answer. If you’re on a diet of less than a 1000 calories a day, then this could be you. I’ve heard it all, people who fast 3 days a week and eat dangerously low calories on the remaining 4 days. People who have unqualified nutritional coaches who sell them shakes (naming no brand names) with little more than 100 calories in to have 2 times a day. And people who don’t eat and spend hours on the cardio equipment.
Look, you’re going too fast. You need to figure out how many calories you need per day and roughly take away about 200 to 500 to lose weight. If you’re too far in a calorie deficit (think 1500 to 2000 calories under your maintenance) you will lose weight, at first. But that could be fat, muscle, water. You have no control. Your body is panicking and trying to burn whatever it can easily to give you energy. Eventually your body will stop, slow down your metabolism and you will be in too high a caloric deficit for your body to utilise fat as a fuel source. Your body thinks it’s starving, eat more, lose more.
Note: I want to stress that not everybody will be having this problem, make sure you read the rest of the article before thinking you’re eating too little. Figure out your maintenance calories first, or send me a message via the contact form if you need help doing so, before jumping to conclusions.
4.) Neglecting cardio
A pretty easy one to explain. If you’re trying to lose weight, add some cardio to the mix. It doesn’t even have to be that much. A few sessions a week is should be enough. Think of it like this, if you’re maintenance is 2500 calories, and you’re eating 2100 calories per day then you should lose weight, but not enough for a full pound per week, which is roughly 3500 calories. So let’s say you take three cardio sessions per week and burn 250 calories in each sessions. That brings your calorie deficit for the week to 3550 up from 2800 calories from just the dieting. This pushing you over the 3500 mark and ensures you lose a pound during that week. Start slow however, which brings me onto my next point.
3.) Starting too fast
We’ve all made this weight loss mistake. It can hinder your weight loss and leave you with no where to go. But the bad thing is, most people don’t even see this as a mistake. Okay, so what do I mean by starting too fast? I mean going to an extreme caloric deficit, training 7 days a week, doing cardio 5+ days a week and eating extremely healthily foods (more on that later). You may have just read that and asked yourself how is this a weight loss mistake? Well the answer is two-fold. Firstly if you’re new to exercise, and this is your first attempt at transforming your body then chances are you’re going to burn yourself out and fast. I’ve seen people last a week, maybe two but most of the time not even that going from zero training to as much training as possible. I’m sure their results are great for the week or two they’ve trained, but then they’re back to square one again.
The second reason is that your body is incredibly adaptive. Believe it or not, your body doesn’t care what it looks like. It wants to hold onto some fat, it needs to for survival. Your body doesn’t know where or when your next meal is, it could be in an hour or it could be in a few days. It wants to hold onto as much fat as it can, which is why it’s so hard to lose in the first place. Because of this you may find that you plateau during your weight loss. You may lose 10 pounds and then not lose anything for a few weeks. When this happens with my clients I tell them to increase the cardio from 2 days to 3 or 4 days. Lower their carbs by 20 grams or lower their fat intake a little bit. By starting slow you both ensure you don’t burn out quickly, and you have somewhere to go when your body does eventually adapt to the calories you’re feeding it.
2.) Neglecting your hormones. Processed vs unprocessed foods
Okay, this is my opinion. I’m sure if another personal trainer, nutritionist or even fitness model is reading this they will most likely disagree with me. But this is what I believe as of writing this article: unprocessed foods will give you better results than processed. That may sound obvious, but with all the hype around if it fits your macros (IIFYM) and calories in vs calories out. I need to explain. Yes it comes down to calories in vs calories out. If you burn off 3000 calories per day and eat 2500 calories per day you will lose weight, even if that 2500 calories comes from doughnuts (someone actually did that) or mcdonalds. However, in my experience of training people, coaching them through their diets and writing out 12 week + meal plans (which have got plenty of people six packs in their time) i’ve found that cutting out most processed junk food yields much better results.
It goes back to eating vegetables, fruits, seeds, omega 3 rich fish, nuts etc. The nutritional content is much higher, which will give you a healthy balance in hormones, vitamins and fibre. As well as being a much natural source of macronutrients for your body. Think of it like this, you have two tubs of peanut butter in front of you. One is the supermarket’s own brand at 94% peanuts, the rest is salt and rapeseed oil and a natural brand of peanut butter which is 100% peanuts and nothing else. Which is better for your body? Obviously the one which is 100% peanuts right? Some coaches will tell you it doesn’t matter and that it all comes down to IIFYM but I respectfully disagree and say you will have better results by eating healthier unprocessed foods, and you’ll feel a lot better as well!
1.) Cheating on a weekend
This is it. The weight loss mistake to end all weight loss mistakes. Hands up, how many of you eat great Monday to Friday and then as soon as Saturday rolls around you’ve fallen off your diet? This used to be me, Saturday night was take away night. Sunday was a chill out day so no need for a proper diet there. Calories count seven days a week folks, if you aren’t losing weight and you find yourself snacking more on a weekend or have take aways or drinks every Saturday night. Then you’ve found your problem. That’s not to say some of you won’t get away with your beers on a weekend or your cake on a Sunday. But a lot of you won’t and if that is you, then maybe cut back to once every two or three weeks and I guarantee you’ll find yourself losing weight once again!