You walk by a mirror one day, and your heart drops when you realize your T-shirt is tight in the wrong places. You jump in the air to catch a football, and you feel a bit too much flesh moving around you. You get bigger and stronger, but unfortunately, things trend primarily toward bigger. Trust me: I know the feeling!
Even if you train hard and tend to eat clean, there almost always comes a time when you have to flip the switch from “build muscle” to “burn fat.” Whether you want to lose five or 25 pounds, the most important thing is what you do—or don’t do—next.
On your way to losing weight, keep your eyes peeled for these five incredibly common fat-loss mistakes. You can fix them today and save yourself months of trouble down the road!
1. NOT EATING ENOUGH
The first thing that comes to mind when looking to lose fat is to eat less. This notion is definitely a correct one, but past a certain point becomes very counterproductive, and even dangerous. When aiming to lose fat, you’ll do so by consuming fewer calories than you expend in a day. The size of the deficit should be determined by trial and error, but a good starting point is about 500 calories. This will provide your body with enough calories to still train hard and take care of your daily business, but still allow fat loss. You still want to keep eating frequent meals, just with adjusted portion size.
Whenever the above strategy is not used, and a drastic reduction of calories is, there are several negative consequences you will experience. First is that you’ll feel very tired, mentally unclear, and maybe even a little cranky (or a lot) due to the fact that your blood sugar is very low due to not having enough calories to keep it at an energy sustaining level in between meals. Second, is that whenever you drastically reduce your calories, your body begins to want to hold onto fat stores instead of metabolizing them, due to being in a state of semi-starvation. When your in this state, all that cardio you’re doing to shed fat is more than likely burning precious muscle tissue while burning sub-optimal levels of fat.
2. CUT OUT IN BETWEEN MEAL SNACKING
Many diets have been followed to a “T” throughout most of the day, only to be blown by little snacks that aren’t on your plan. Keep in mind that if you’re adhering to rule number one, you do not have a bunch of extra room in your macros for junk or even healthy snacks, as you’ve already had to reduce the portions in your meals, and are aiming for around a 500 calorie deficit (more or less depending on your body and training). This deficit can easily turn into a surplus by having some almonds, granola, or fruit. The effect is multiplied when the snacks are unhealthy, like potato chips, candy, or ice cream. Save that for the cheat meal, and if you don’t have any in your diet plan, have enough pride in yourself to know you followed your plan. I promise it will feel better than the food tasted at the end of the day.
3. RIGHT FOOD, WRONG SAUCE
This is a personal favorite of mine, because of how many times I’ve seen it: An otherwise perfect meal for when you’re dieting ruined by the choice of sauce or condiment. Salad dressing, dips, and sauces are normally pure fat, and loaded with sodium, so make sure you check the nutrition facts out before slathering your food with it. Look for light or low sodium versions of your favorite sauces, they are out there, along with a plethora of fat-free and sodium-free items geared toward those on diets. I personally enjoy mustard and sriracha, as they afford a ton of flavor with little caloric impact.
4. STOP DRINKING USELESS CALORIES
One of the easiest ways to accelerate fat loss, or if your having trouble, begin fat loss, is to cut out all sugary drinks. This is not going to shock most, as they know coke and such beverages have an inordinate amount of sugar in it. What they don’t know is that fruit juices and teas are just as guilty. Even though you can find juices with no added sugar, fruit is naturally very high in sugar, and while they can be high in nutrients and antioxidants, have no business being in your glass while dieting. Another big no-no is sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade, as they have just as much sugar as a soda, and the electrolytes they contain are minimal. The calories you get from these sugary drinks are much better off being consumed as lean protein, complex carbs, or healthy fats.
5. NOT EATING ENOUGH HEALTHY FATS
Fat has gotten a bad rep when it comes to trying to lose weight, but let me tell you, it’s an essential part of your diet! Healthy fats, like those provided by oily fish, nut butters, fish oil, and krill oil are responsible for a multitude of positive effects throughout your body, including but not limited to: increased brain function, healthier heart and other organs, healthier hair and nails, and increased fat loss. Yes, that is correct, you can increase your fat loss by consuming fats! This seems counter-intuitive to some, and that is why so many people make the mistake of limiting or completely eliminating fat from their diet when trying to lose weight.
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Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.