Losing Weight 101 – DON’T Do This

Dec 30, 2022 mindpump

There are a lot of reasons one may get stuck losing weight and plateau. There are a bunch of possibilities I could cover but for this article, I’d like to focus on some of the most common things I have seen clients doing that they shouldn’t have been.

Eating Too Many Processed Foods

I don’t want to get into the whole health and longevity aspect of it. That is for another time. Even, just strictly speaking from a body fat standpoint, I’ve seen clients including too many processed foods while dieting.

If you are someone who CAN handle moderation, then this is fine. In fact, for those who can handle moderation, it’s a nice balance of letting them feel normal while they diet because it gives them flexibility. Most people aren’t as good at this as they think. Strictly speaking from a body fat standpoint, processed foods simply work against you. They’re calorically dense and SUPER easy to overeat. Whole foods on the other hand, are very filling and naturally limit the amount of food you can eat.

To prove this an example a study was done where both groups were allowed to eat as much as they wanted. One group included processed foods, and the other stuck to whole foods. By the end of the study the BIGGEST difference was those eating processed foods ate on average 500 more calories than when they switched to the whole foods group.

When I start a client on a diet, 500 calories a day is the deficit we start at to get fat loss moving. This puts us at a 3500 calorie deficit a week. If simply switching to processed foods ends up making you naturally eat 500 calories back in, you’ve put yourself at a standstill at best. Stick to whole foods and you will most likely find the weight comes off without having to count calories.

Relying Too Much On Cardio

Everyone’s first instinct on a diet is to load up on cardio. I get it. You do 3 days a week and see how many calories you burn and how much weight comes off the scale, so you assume more is better. So you jump to 7 days a week. The issue with this is it is all fleeting.

For starters, the more cardio you do the less calories you burn as you continue to do the same thing. It is the body’s way of optimizing your performance. Cardio also isn’t a strong enough muscle building stimulus, so it’ll also send the signal (when in a caloric restriction) to burn through muscle and hold onto fat. Muscle needs calories to survive. If you aren’t going to provide calories, then you need to provide an outside stimulus that forces the body to hold onto it. 

Cardio also doesn’t burn as many calories as you think for how much time you put in. A 60 minute session is at best 500 calories. That may seem like a lot, but let’s also think about how easy that is to eat back. Given that you just ran for an hour you will definitely be much hungrier than if you just subtracted 500 calories from your diet and went for walks instead. It will also not be sustainable enough of a habit for you to keep up. How long do you plan to run 5-6 days a week for?

Not Sending the Right Stimulus

I mentioned this before. Incorporating a resistance training routine that involves some form of progression will provide the needed signal to hold onto your muscle. Lifting weights, unlike cardio, also helps you burn more calories at rest. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn off.

Make sure to be training 2-3 days a week. It can be a full body session where you choose exercises for a rep range between 5-20 reps. Choose a weight that you can hit within that range until 2-3 reps shy of failure.  

Eating Too Little

Similar to the cardio issue, I’ve had a lot of clients eating too little out the gate. Sure, you will definitely drop a ton of weight following this method. Then what? Anyone who has weight to lose will hit a point where their metabolism slows down due to a lack of calories coming in causing an eventual plateau in weight loss. What calories will you have left to remove at this point? Your hunger hormones will be firing like crazy, your energy will be low, and you will end up miserable very early on into your diet and feel like you failed. Don’t eat so little that it risks you binging on the weekend, or losing your sanity. Don’t set yourself up for failure by starting a diet right before the holidays when you know the temptation to slip up is there.

Don’t Make Changes Too Soon

I tend to encourage my clients to track their weight every morning. This may sound like a disorder waiting to happen but it actually turns out to be the opposite. By tracking your weight every day, you learn to become objective about the data. Our weight can fluctuate by 5lbs on any given day. If all you did was weigh once a week, and it just so happened that week you held more water and weighed 5lbs heavier, you’d assume your diet isn’t working and make a drastic change. If you tracked it daily, you’d be more likely to see that while THAT day may look bad, the overall trend was still downward.

Don’t make any drastic changes without giving it some time. All decisions should be made on a week to week basis. Give something at LEAST 1-2 weeks before deciding it isn’t working.


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