So you’ve been making great progress on your diet, when all of sudden… you stop. Your weight is not budging the scale to go down, your abs are not getting more clearly defined, and all of the happy moments of the prior weeks seem to be evaporating.
What to do? Let’s explore the 8 most common dieting mistakes that trainees make in their quest for a lean body, and what to do to correct them!
1. Too Many Carbohydrates
I believe in the judicious use of complex carbohydrates. I’m no fan of strict low carb diets, but any additional carbs above and beyond those needed to saturate your muscles with glycogen have a good probability of being stored as body fat. While bodybuilding training requires a high carb intake, many novices and intermediate trainees simply do not train hard enough to justify a massive carb intake. Depending on your size and level of training intensity, split your carb intake into 5 servings per day and aim for 30-60 grams of carbs per meal to shed fat. Start at a higher intake such as 60 grams of carbs per meal. If you lose weight, continue with 60 grams per meal. If you fail to lose, drop to 50 grams per meal, and so forth, until you hit the right amount. Consume all carbs at meals with protein.
2. Too Much Protein
Surprise! This dilemma is often tied to the problem on the opposite end of the spectrum—overdoing carbohydrate restriction. When dieting to lean down, carbohydrates should be slowly reduced. However, many dieters take an overly aggressive approach in hopes of creating an overnight miracle and cut back too far on the carbs. When you restrict carbs, your protein intake should increase. But – and this is a big one – over compensating by eating too much protein can also prevent fat loss by contributing to a calorie surplus. As a rule, shoot for 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight each day while trying to add weight and muscle. When ripping up, start chopping away at your carbs and increase the protein to 1.25 grams per pound of body weight.
3. Skip the Late-Night Carbs
As the day wears on into the evening, your metabolism slows down. Carbs eaten at night are less likely to be burned off as fuel and are more likely to be stored as body fat. That means; go easy on the yams, potatoes or rice at meal 5 (your final meal of the day.)
This meal should consist of lean proteins like fowl or fish, along with a side dish of veggies. Veggies slow down digestion and the conversion of starches to sugars.
4. Improper Use of Fat Burners
Many bodybuilders and fitness guys and gals over-rely on these products instead of eating less! Bottom line, you have to eat less to get the number on that bathroom scale to come down. Most fat burners don’t really “burn fat” per se. They help a dieter by decreasing appetite.
5. Wrong Breakfast
Want to get lean and eat a lot? Chow down at breakfast. Of your 5 daily meals, the one that is least likely to end up on your waist, thighs and lower back is the first one. In the morning, muscle glycogen stores are lower than during any other part of the day. When glycogen stores are low, your body’s capacity to take carbohydrates and store them as body fat is hampered. So pack in the carbs at breakfast –along with 20-40 grams of high-quality protein such as a Lean Body Ready-to-Drink Shake to jump-start your day. And don’t worry about getting fat.
6. Too Much Cardio
What happens to the guy or gal who performs 1-2 hours of cardio a day? (We know you’re out there!) They send their body into a tailspin, a state where the “starvation hormones” secreted by the body skyrocket (it’s your body’s survival mechanism, a response to too much exercise!) causing fat cells to try to hoard their energy! Moderate cardio is the way to go. Four to five 30-40-minutes sessions per week is all that it takes. Any more than that and you run the risk of losing precious muscle tissue, which negatively affects your metabolic rate and your ability to train.
7. Never Cheating on Your Diet
Once in a while, you should let loose and give yourself a break from the rigors of dieting and scale watching. In fact, it’s helpful in losing weight. That’s because continual dieting eventually leads to roadblocks where the body responds by slowing its metabolic rate. Strict dieting also takes its toll on you mentally and can leave you feeling deprived. That’s a bad combination! Taking in a high-calorie meal once a week not only provides a mental break from dieting but helps you side-step roadblocks by preventing the body from entering a starvation state where the metabolic rate slows.
It’s what I call a “cheat meal.”Be careful that your cheat meal doesn’t turn into a “cheat day” or you could end up blowing an entire week’s worth of progress.
8. Paying Attention to the Scale Only
The bathroom scale is not the “end-all” measurement of progress. You can also monitor a couple of other things, primarily energy and strength. If you’re losing weight and you have plenty of energy and strength, you’re losing body fat – guaranteed. On the flip side, if you’re losing weight, yet feeling really tired or are seeing constant drops in your training poundages during your workouts, then you’re likely also burning off muscle tissue.
If you’re dropping more than 3 pounds per week or your energy levels are waning, you’re likely to be shedding some valuable muscle also along the way. One way to monitor the composition (whether it’s fat or muscle) of your weight loss is with the use of skin calipers. Calipers, used in conjunction with a scale, will tell you if you are losing fat or muscle or both.
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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.