The 5 Biggest Diet Mistakes That Ruin Fat-Loss
So you're ready to lose those quarantine pounds.
If that's the case, I am here to tell you that when it comes to fat-loss, improving your diet is crucial.
In fact, nothing will have a greater impact on your weight-loss than your nutrition.
If you're like most, improving your diet has been challenging, especially over the past several months. I am here to tell you that you're not alone.
Most people fall into 3 buckets when it comes to improving their nutrition and fat-loss:
1. You've tried various diets and meal plans only to put the weight you lost back on and then some.
2. You eat healthy most of the time but can't seem to get the scale to budge.
3. You eat really well and stay on track for a few days but one slip up and you end up quitting and having to start all over again. This becomes a vicious cycle.
On September 28th we're ending fat-loss frustration forever with our 8-Week Fat-Loss Nutrition Challenge.
We're going to be working directly with a handful of people who want to ditch the bad nutrition habits of quarantine, improve their diet, learn about healthy eating, lose weight, and get into the best shape of their lives this fall.
Click HERE to request more information on our 8-Week Fat-Loss Challenge.
Today we're here to get you started by covering the 5 biggest diet mistakes that are ruining your fat-loss and what to do instead.
1| Not tracking your food intake
To lose weight, you need to consistently be in what's known as a calorie deficit.
This means we need to consume less calories than we burn throughout the day. We burn calories in order to stay alive and keep our bodies functioning, and also burn them through physical activity.
Let's take a look at energy balance and how calories impact our weight:
Weight gain = calories in > calories burned (eating too much to lose weight)
Weight maintenance = calories in = calories burned (eating too much to lose weight)
Weight loss = calories in < calories burned (eating the right amount to lose weight)
One of the biggest mistakes we see is not spending dedicated time tracking your food intake. This simply means recording everything you eat and drink throughout the day on a food tracking app like My Fitness Pal. As you input the food you eat and the amount, the app counts the calories you're taking in each day.
If you've never tracked before you're eating in the dark. This means you're just guessing when it comes to your calorie intake.
And the research agrees. Studies have shown that we drastically underestimate the calories we take in each day by up to 1,000 calories per day.
Not knowing how many calories we're taking in each day can make it very hard to lose weight. Even if you eat healthy, you may very well be eating too much food each day to lose weight.
One study gave over 1,000 participants a heart healthy diet and exercise regimen. Over the course of the study participants lost an average of 13lbs.
Here's the kicker though: the participants who tracked what they ate lost an average of 18lbs where participants who did not track what they ate lost an average of 9lbs. That's a BIG difference in weight-loss achieved just by simply tracking their food.
So why is that? What happens when you track your food?
1) You start to eat less
Tracking can really open your eyes to the amount of food that you are not only eating but overeating.
When tracking, you're going to be less likely to eat that extra dessert or indulge in an additional spoonful of peanut butter. These once mindless additions to your day add up quick and can easily account for an additional 200-600 calories per day. This is bad news for losing fat.
2) You increase your consistency
When you track you will get a great idea of where your calories end up each day. This is key for fat-loss. If your calories end up where you want them to be one day, only to be too high the next day, it's going to be very hard to lose fat.
Tracking will allow you to be consistent throughout the week and allow you to continually work towards your goals and lose fat.
Stop guessing, start tracking.
Here's what to do instead:
Download a food tracking app and start to measure and track all the foods you eat each day. Once you've tracked for a week or so, work to hit your calorie goal each day.
2| Weekend inconsistency
A big mistake we see is people eating really well throughout the week, only to blow it on the weekends.
Think of weight-loss success as the average of your calorie consumption for the week (Monday - Sunday). Say you eat the right foods, in the right amounts each day of the week, Monday - Thursday and your calories average 1,500 each day.
Then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday turns into a weekend binge of overeating with takeout, drinks, and desserts. Those 3 days take that 1,500 calorie average and lifts it to a point where you're averaging 1,800-2,000+ calories each day.
You just went from a calorie deficit (losing weight) to either calorie maintenance (maintaining weight) or a calorie surplus (gaining weight).
This weekend inconsistency makes fat-loss nearly impossible.
Here's what to do instead:
1) Stop trying to be so perfect during the week
One thing that will help you dramatically over the weekend is to stop trying to be so perfect over the week. This perfection causes us to feel deprived and by Friday we just want to let loose -- enter weekend binge.
Remember the 80/20 rule? This is a great concept to focus on during the week. 80% of the time crush your healthy eating and workouts. 20% of the time let yourself choose that side of fries or that slice of pizza then get right back on track.
2) Keep your normal weekday routine over the weekend
This is a game changer when it comes to improving your weekend consistency. Treat it like a weekday. The more we can keep our routine, the better. Aim to get to bed at your normal time, wake up at your normal time, get your normal walk or workout in, and stick to your normal home cooked meals.
3) Aim for progress each weekend
When it comes to improving, always chase progress, not perfection.
Start with small wins and changes like opting for a home cooked meal on Saturday night vs. takeout. Drink a bit more water than you normally would. Get 30+ minutes of movement. It all adds up and these behaviors start to become the weekend norm.
3| Drinking calories
As we talked about earlier, to lose weight you need to be eating the right amount of calories.
One way to drastically increase your calorie intake, and slow down weight loss is by drinking your calories. These calories do little to nothing for our overall health and unlike food, keep us feeling hungry.
Additives like cream and sugar in your coffee, soda, fruit juices, and alcohol are loaded with extra calories.
In fact, the average American consumes an extra 400 calories per day just in beverages.
Now multiply that by seven days a week.... YIKES! That is not good for weight-loss and something you can easily avoid.
Here's what to do instead:
1) Start your day with water
Proper hydration starts first thing in the morning as we actually dehydrate when we sleep.. Once you wake up and use the restroom, the first thing I want you to do is consume 8-16oz of water. Do this before anything. This will begin your hydration and set the tone for a great day!
2) Have water with you at all times
Wherever you go, have your water with you. This will keep your hydration top of mind and allow you to continue drinking and hydrating throughout the day. This will make it much easier to reach your water habit goal.
3) Track it
The best way to ensure you're meeting your water habit goal of at least 64oz per day is to keep track of it.
Here's a few ways to track it:
- Use a refillable bottle with an oz measurement
- Use a piece of paper to check off every time you drink 8-16oz
- Place rubber bands on your water bottle. Each rubber band will represent how many bottles it will take to reach 64oz. Each time you drink a bottle, remove a rubber band.
4| Not eating enough protein
Now that you know it's crucial to eat the right amount of food and calories each day to lose weight, we need to talk about the importance of the foods that make up those calories and your diet.
One food that you must get enough of to lose weight is protein.
What we typically see is most diets are very heavy in both carbohydrates and fat and low in protein.
This lack of protein:
- Keeps you feeling hungry throughout the day (leads to overeating)
- Limits your ability to build strength and muscle (muscle helps you burn calories at rest)
- Decreases workout performance (less fat-loss from your workouts)
Not eating enough protein each day makes fat-loss very difficult.
Here's what to do instead:
Aim to eat .8 grams of protein per pound of your body-weight.
For example, if you weigh 150lbs, you should consume 120 grams of protein each day.
Start your protein consumption early in the day, include it in every meal & snack, and lean on healthy protein sources like:
- Greek yogurt
- Chicken sausage
- Eggs and egg whites
- Beef jerky
- Cottage cheese
- Ground turkey
- Ground bison
- Black beans
- Turkey burgers
- Protein powder (whey or plant based) -- add to smoothies, yogurt, and oatmeal
5| Not creating a successful environment
Your environment is a huge factor in whether you will have success and how much.
Whether you will stay on track with your nutrition goals and keep you from being derailed over and over.
Go through your kitchen and look closely at what foods you have in your refrigerator, cabinets, pantry and on your counters.
These are the options that we have surrounding us and at our disposal at any given time.
If your house is filled with unhealthy options than those are most likely the things that you will be grabbing to eat, packing lunches with and snacking on most of the time.
Nutrition Coach, John Berardi’s First Law states that “If a food is in your possession or located in your residence, either you, someone you love, or someone you marginally tolerate will eventually eat it.”
In other words, if it's in your house, chances are you're going to eat it.
In order to get the results you want and to reach your nutrition goals, you have to surround yourself with good healthy foods and purge the stuff that’s holding you back. A major mistake we see is houses and pantries filled with easily accessible, high-calories foods and snacks.
Here's what to do instead:
Set your kitchen up for success by having the healthiest foods and snacks visible, accessible, and ready.
These are foods like cut up fruit & vegetables, lean protein sources, yogurt and beverages like water and tea.
Keep these foods out on the counter, first up in the pantry, and visible in the refrigerator.
This will dramatically increase the chances you cook with these foods and use them as your go-to healthy snacks each day.
Keep unhealthy foods at the grocery store, or make them harder to get to in back of the refrigerator or pantry.