As a coach I frequently get asked questions regarding to people's diet plans, exercise routines and opinions on particular supplements. However, my answer's tend to surprise people more often than not.
So many people fail to reach their fat loss goal's for one reason or another and over the years I've noticed that the following 7 Fat Loss Mistakes tend to be the most common.
I'm quilty of making these mistakes over the years as a coach and as a trainee, so don't feel bad if you have as well.
The 7 Fat Loss Mistakes You've Already Made:
1. Reducing calories too low too quickly
2. Over training and under recovering
3. Disregarding NEAT
4. Too much BEAST mode not enough LEAST mode
5. Making drastic changes all too soon
6. Relying on supplements rather than effort
7. Quitting to fucking early.
How To Correct Them:
1. Reducing calories too low too quickly
To lose weight(fat) you need to create a calorie deficit. Simply put, you need to burn more energy (calorie's) then you consume from food & drink on a consistent basis to lose body fat.
However, this is a double edged sword. If you reduce your daily caloric intake too low too rapidly, you risk losing muscle mass in the process. This is not a desirable outcome.
If you've ever been on a low carb diet, or a restrictive eating regime you'll know what I mean when I say it's hard to stick to. You're hungry all the time and your energy levels plummit. The first week or two is usually the most difficult and for most people, this is as long as it lasts.
In order to avoid reducing calories too low too quickly and risking losing muscle mass in the hopes of losing body fat, first off you need to know your numbers. How many calories are you currently eating daily and what does it total over a 7-10 day period?
That should be your starting point. Then, reduce that daily intake by 300~500 calories per day. Maintain that calorie intake for a further 7-10 days and measure what happens.
If you begin losing weight, awesome! You've successfully created a large enough calorie deficit to elicit weight loss. If your weight stays the same, simply reduce your daily calorie intake by a further 150~250 calories per day and again, maintain this lower calorie intake for a further 7-10 days and measure what happens.
You don't need to starve yourself to elicit fat loss and you should definitely do things slowly, and gradually. I know that's not what you wanted to hear but it's what you needed to hear.
In 99% of people, daily calorie intake is the biggest determining factor in weight gain or weight loss. period. For 99% of people, creating a calorie deficit leads to gradual and consistent weight loss.
2. Over Training and Under Recovering
Your training program or workout regime is only as effective as your body's ability to recover is and when it comes to training, more of a good thing doesn't necessarily mean faster results or progress.
The notion of 'No pain, no gain' has taken on a whole new mantra in recent years and some trainers seem to like beating their clients down rather than building them up.
When I say that, what I mean is that, I've seen far too many cringe worthy training programs (some I've written myself in earlier years) with people feeling like they've been hit by a mack truck after every workout.
This approach leads to burnout, and injury. Not only that but increasing the amount of physical stress your putting your body through at each workout in the hopes of accelerating fat loss tends to have quite the opposite effect.
You don't need to train every day and you don't need to flog yourself until you can't move in order to make great progress.
Recovery dictates your improvements in the gym. Your improvements in the gym have a direct impact on what you see staring back at you in the mirror.
Training needs to be hard, and you need to train with intensity but understanding how much you can handle and when to back things off is just as important.
In regards to your workout regime, ask yourself: Am I making regular progress? Am I getting stronger and able to lift heavier at almost every session? Do I wake up feeling rested or am I exhausted at the end of every week? Do I fall ill to colds and flu's regularly? After a few weeks of training, is my body starting to develop ache's and pains?
If you answered yes to a few of the above and your performance isn't improving in the gym, chances are you're not recovering in between sessions.
Try taking an extra day off from training each week to allow your body the chance to repair and restore itself. You might also need to back off some of the loads or total workload you're performing until you start making progress again.
3. Disregarding NEAT (Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis)
What do you during the day outside of your workouts? Are you active throughout the day or do you spend 80-90% of your time seated at a desk? Why do I ask? Because, your NEAT or Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis plays a roll in fat loss.
The more active you are during the day, the more energy (calories) your body burns and the greater the calorie deficit potentially becomes. The downside to dieting is that when you start to feel low on energy, you don't move around as much.
This lowers your NEAT and can potentially decrease the amount of energy your body burns throughout the day and can potentially decrease the calorie deficit for that day.
A lot of people completely disregard their usual day to day activity and don't realise that it can effect their body composition. Your body is constantly breaking down food and absorbing food (digestion), regulating body temperature, moving, thinking, breathing, pumping blood around to your organs, muscles and tissues, all of which uses energy (calories).
The great amount of NEAT that occurs during the day, the more energy you'll burn and the greater your calorie deficit will become. Be mindful of your daily habits and try to avoid slowing down on the days you feel a little low on energy.
For example, if you normally walk the long way through the carpark to the office each morning and after noon and it takes you 10 minutes, then 3 weeks into your fat loss program, you get to work tired and decide to park closer to the entrance no longer walk that 10 minute route. Instead the new route is only 3 minutes long. You've just lost an additional 14 minutes per day of NEAT.
Can you see how if you were to do this with various other tasks or activities during the day, this will have a compounding affect on your daily energy expenditure?
4.Too much BEAST mode not enough LEAST mode
Similar to point #2 but this time related to your diet. Everyone wants to go BEAST mode all the time and take things to the extreme. The extreme approaches offer rapid results but never last and are extremely detrimental.
Cheat meals are the same, everyone wants to eat like a king when it's time for a free meal or a 'cheat meal' and that's fair enough, but your diet doesn't need to be that excessive that it calls for a beast mode cheat meal!
When it comes to diet and training, getting the most out of the least should be everyone's mantra.
Why? Because getting the most benefit out of the least amount of change is sustainable and far easier to manage.
Small changes or adjustments to your calorie intake or training program repeated consistently will allow for improvements to be made and still allow for further changes/adjustments to be made in the future.
If you go too hard, or too drastic too soon, you leave yourself with no where to go.
Aim to get the most out of the least.
5. Making drastic changes all at once
I made this mistake early in my training cycle and decided to change everything at the same time. My diet, my program, the days I trained, everything changed. Was I able to pin point WHAT actually worked? Nope.
I see it all the time, people jump from program to program, diet to diet without giving either of them an adequate amount of time to see any significant change and by making such drastic changes all at once it makes it near impossible to base your progress or the outcome on any one thing.
Ideally, you want to change 1 variable at a time. Make a change to your dietary intake like increasing or decreasing your calories, reducing or increasing the amount of training you're performing weekly, run with that change for 7-14 days and measure the outcome.
If you're making changes in the hopes of improved body composition, take weekly progress photo's or have regular body fat measurements taken by a trained professional and compare your results after following the adjusted program. Then and only then can you make an informed decision about what step to take next.
Changing everything or too many things at once leads to confusion and illusion. The confusion comes when someone asks you what's worked so well and you can't really answer it accurately. The illusion comes when you attribute your results or outcome to something you're not really certain of.
Don't leave your progress up to guesswork. Devise a plan, make 1 adjustment at a time, measure the result/outcome, make another adjustment if necessary and then repeat the process.
That way you know exactly what you did to get that outcome and you can repeat it in the future.
6. Relying on supplements rather than effort
Every company that sells dietary supplements would have you believe that taken their product will solve all of your problems and have you achieve all of your goals without the additional effort required.
As intriguing as that may be, you and I both know that it's just not true but we still fall victim to the marketing giants.
I've had numerous conversations with people regarding weight loss and when I ask what they did to lose weight the conversation goes a little like this;
Them: "Well, I took this 'insert product of the month here' and I lost Xkg's".
Me: Oh really? Did you change your diet at all and add any exercise?
Them: "Oh yeah, I cut out all the junk I used to eat, stopped drinking soft drink and starting hitting the gym 2 - 3 times per week with a friend"
Me: Awesome stuff. *face palm*
It wasn't the fact that they completely changed their diet and added in regular workouts, it was the supplement. I hear it all the time, people crediting their success to a product when in reality they were the ones that put in the effort.
The same goes for failure's. They rely on a supplement or product and hope that it's going to magically make their goals become a reality without the required effort.
Understand this, dietary supplements will only give you an additional 5% increase in results IF, and this is a big IF, if your diet and training is on point.
5% of nothing is still nothing. Relying on products and supplements to do the heavy lifting for you is ridiculous. It's the equivalent of sitting at work staring at the wall all day and asking for a pay check in return for your attendance.
Supplements can and do help the process of losing body fat and building muscle mass but the process is built on the foundation of effort and consistency.
7. Quitting To F#^king Early
This is probably the most common fat loss mistake out of all. Giving up far too early and feeling disappointed with yourself is not entirely your fault.
The health and fitness industry uses your desires against you by selling you false promises and overnight results with unsustainable programs or solutions.
You see, the people who grace the pages of fitness magazines and star in movies with incredible physiques didn't perform the latest P90X home workout or the online 28 shred program.
They dedicated months of hard work in the gym and consistency in the kitchen to look the way they look. It takes professional body builders and fitness models anywhere from 8 - 16 weeks to get into 'show' condition.
I'm talking about people who walk around looking better than 95% of the population and already train regularly and diet consistently taking 8 - 16 weeks to get into even better shape.
It's unrealistic to think that someone can go from being an average Joe to looking like a fitness model in any less then 3 - 6 months. In some intances it could take as long as 12 - 36 months to attain the body you want to attain.
Quitting after a few weeks or a few short months in the gym because "You're not where you want to be yet" is like getting ready to go to work, sitting down on your front step to put your shoes on and saying 'F-it' this is taking too long, I'm not going to work today, I quit.
Set realistic expectations for yourself and see out the process in it's entirety. When it comes to weight (fat) loss, most people should aim for 0.5kg to 0.8kg of weight loss per week. Any more than that and you'll find that you start to struggle to maintain whatever diet you've been following after a few weeks.
So, do the math. If you want to lose 15 kilo's of body fat, look lean and have a newly found confidence, be conservative and plan for 18 - 30 weeks worth of effort to reach your goal.
Why is it that people will spend 4 - 6 years studying a degree before they can even begin their career but shy away from the idea of dedicating 4 - 6 months of their life to getting in shape? That's something I'll always struggle to properly understand but I'll never stop trying to help those who are willing to make the change.
If you've got any questions related to nutrition or training, please do not hesitate to ask.
Coach Ben Hidalgo