When I speak to people who are struggling to lose weight the problem is often diet related rather than an exercise issue.
I think the reason for this is getting out and doing some exercise is pretty straightforward to understand and is over pretty quickly. Whereas nutrition and knowing what to eat is a never ending process and there is such much confusion about what you need to be doing.
This leads to lots of mis-information and mistakes that although followed with good intent are actually hindering not helping you achieve your goals.
I have picked out my 5 top nutrition mistakes that I see time and time again in the hope that if you are making one or a few of these mistakes you can recognize it and take action to change your ways.
Let´s get started.
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1. You don´t eat enough
This is a big one especially with women and one that can be difficult to overcome from a mental perspective.
Don´t get me wrong creating a calorie deficit for losing weight is vital but the problem is that most people go to extreme with it.
Most people feel they have to drastically reduce calories and be on the verge of starvation to get results.
Not only is this a miserable way to live but is actually slowing your progress.
While it may seem counter-intuitive, eating too little is probably worse from a fat loss perspective than eating too much. With a super-restricted diet, your body will do what years of evolution have trained it to do: keep you alive.
By eating far too little, you are telling your body that you are starving. The result (outside of increased discomfort and extreme hunger) is that your body will slow your metabolism down to conserve energy, as too little (in the form of Calories) is coming in.
Do you really want a slowed metabolism? I think not.That is, not if you are at all interested in losing fat.
In addition to being hungry and miserable all the time, by eating too little you’re just shooting yourself in the foot and slowing your progress.
Intelligent diet design with attention paid to the correct amount of energy intake is vital to the success of any plan focused on fat loss.
How do you know what is too little.
Well a good indicator I always ask is how´s your sex life?
When you are dieting hard, your body shuts down processes and systems that are not immediately “necessary” for survival.
So, if you notice you are thinking more about getting some pizza than getting laid you might want to increase your calories.
2. Too many poor food choices
Right now, let’s just make it clear. A Calorie is not just a Calorie. The source of your energy is of vital importance; in most cases, of greater importance than the total Caloric content itself.
While it is true that fat loss is heavily dependent on creating and maintaining an energy deficit, as you do so it becomes even more important to choose the right food sources. This is true for a number of reasons.
Firstly, here is an extreme example to help get us in the right mind set.
Let’s say you normally take in about 2500 calories per day. If I designed you a diet plan that called for 1800 Calories, do you think it would be wise to get those Calories from any source?
Would you eat 6 pieces of chocolate cake, at 300 Calories a piece, each day, and expect to lose weight? Although you’d be eating 700 Calories per day under your previous diet, you’d probably GAIN fat.
Now, compare that to a sensible diet where those same 1800 Calories was coming from lean protein sources, slow-digesting carbohydrates, and healthy fats. Obviously this would be more effective—but why?
Well, it’s not just because chocolate cake is mostly carbs and fat with little protein.
Obviously that factors in a bit.
What if we cut it in half? What if you only ate three slices of cake, and the rest of the Calories were from grilled chicken? You’d probably have a bit more success, but still not the desired result.
However, let’s assume those 3 pieces—again, consisting mainly of carbohydrates and fat—were replaced with foods that gave you those same macronutrient profiles.
That is, what if we took away the cake, and added in foods that gave you the same amount of carbs and fats; food like sweet potatoes, avocados, nuts and carrots?
All of those foods are high in either carbohydrates, fats, or both. And yet, they are VASTLY different from chocolate cake! Although maybe not as enjoyable
Eating those foods, not only would you actually have a diet that works in terms of fat loss, but you would be way healthier.
This is not to say there isn’t a place for chocolate cake! There is always a place.
If you know how to set up the rest of your diet correctly then the odd slice of cake will make no difference so long as doesn´t become a primary food source.
It just goes to show you that the sources that choose for your calories is of great importance; you can’t just under-eat and expect things to take care of themselves.
Mistake 3– You’re not eating enough protein
As we’ve covered, many dieters are simply not eating enough Calories. Over restriction of caloric intake down-regulates a variety of important metabolic processes, including the production of many important hormones, such as Leptin (the anti-starvation hormone).
Even worse, most dieters are cutting out too many calories from protein sources in their diets.
Although people are still very wary of cutting carbs from their diet they are not replacing these calories with a protein source.
Eating protein is extremely important for both health and fat loss.
Protein is extremely metabolically friendly. Of all of the sources of nutrition, protein requires the most energy (Calories) to break down, process, and absorb.
In nutrition-speak, we say that of all the macronutrients, protein has the greatest TEF, or Thermic Effect of Food. Essentially, this means that it is a great energy source with a high energy cost.
Not only that, but because it breaks down very slowly, protein is great from the perspective of satiety—the feeling of being full, or satisfied.
Eating more protein not only helps you burn fat, but also keeps you fuller for longer.
Also consuming enough protein in your diet will also help maintain lean muscle mass. The more muscle you have in your body the higher level of calories you will burn at rest.
As a starting point when trying to lose fat I would aim to eat 1g of protein per pound of bodyweight.
Mistake 4 – Lack of proper hydration
Are you drinking enough water? I bet your not.
There is a little controversy about how much water you actually need to drink every day but what I will say is the more hydrated you are the better you feel and better you perform.
It’s been shown that having below-optimal levels of hydration vastly impedes brain function; both from the perspective of cognitive function (decision making/information processing) and the regulation of the nervous systems.
Therefore, it must be assumed that higher levels of hydration prevent these things. While I won’t go so far as to claim drinking water makes you smarter, it certainly makes sense to make an effort to being properly hydrated every day.
In addition, the physical benefits of water are incredible.
Proper levels of hydration not only keep your immune system functioning in top form, but also decrease the likelihood of joint injury and increase muscle function. More important to the purposes of our topic, increased water intake also leads to increased fat loss, through a number of mechanisms.
One of the more important of these is kidney function. As you probably know, one of the primary functions of your kidneys is to filter water and help excrete it. What you may not know is that when sup-optimal levels of hydration are present in the body, the kidneys take a tremendous blow in their level of efficiency. When this happens, your body sends signals to the liver ask for assistance. The liver, being a good chap jumps in to help out.
However, this takes away from the livers other functions. Outside of acting like a general trash dump and filter for the substances you enjoyed during the debauchery and wayward days of your misspent youth, your liver also plays a role in fat loss. In fact, one of the primary functions of the organ are actually to metabolize fat.
When you’re not drinking enough water, your liver is too busy helping your kidneys process, filter, and excrete liquid to focus on fat. Overall, this slows down the metabolic processes of fat loss. Not to mention being extremely unhealthy in general.
While obviously this is a somewhat dumbed-down version of the science, the effect is very real. On top of all that, water just helps your body function better, and is one of nature’s more effective appetite suppressants.
Take my word …..More water equals more fat loss.
Mistake 5 – You rely too much on supplements.
Without a doubt, one of the largest culprits in hampering fat loss is improper supplementation programming. A lot of people seem to forget that “supplement” is really supposed to mean “in addition to” and not “in place of.”
What I mean is that supplements, when used IN ADDITION TO an intelligent training and nutrition program can be great for fat loss.
However, partly because of laziness and partly because of truly sinister and downright untruthful marketing on the part of supplement companies, people can unfortunately walk away with the idea that they can lose fat just by taking fat burners or carb blockers or whatever else the new fad that is doing the rounds Of course we know that supplements are not the solution alone and to be honest are not really needed but if used correctly they can be of great help.
Unfortunately—and once again due to the marketing—most people are taking the wrong supplements. While appetite suppressants and metabolic enhancers can work for fat loss, the focus should be on working with your body, not against it.
If we use supplements to fill the gaps in a nutritional program that often happen on a diet or because our busy lives get in the way fat loss will occur with much greater ease—and SPEED—than if we just take some pills to make us forget that we’re hungry.
Everybody makes mistakes when it comes to diet and weight loss. It takes a lot of testing, tweaking and staying consistent to get things right and even then your body can always react differently.
My advice is to start using a framework such as the Paleo diet but don’t expect it too work perfectly.
The key is sustainability so you need to find an approach that feels comfortable while at the same time is challenging you to start new habits and change your old eating patterns that have not worked for you in the past.
With regard to the mistakes above focus on the first two initially. That is eating better food choices as much as possible which will then allow you to start eating more and feeding your body the energy and nutrients it needs to stay balanced and not under too much stress.
Thanks for visiting the site and taking time to read the article. If you have any questions please leave a comment below.
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