I’ve been into weight loss for over 9 years now and believe me – I’ve seen some crazy stuff…
People make mistakes all over the place when it comes to weight loss and, in particular, nutrition. What’s to blame for it? Media? “So called” personal trainers and dietitians? Society? I could go on and on about why do you have slow weight loss (if you have any at all).
The following will be some of my most often witnessed nutritional mistakes that hold people back from losing weight fast.
Along with them, you’ll find my tips how to fix it.
So lets get into it.
Not Being In Calorie Deficit
In order to lose weight, you have to be in a calorie deficit, period.
More about calories, read Livescience article here.
You might hear someone telling that calories don‘t matter. Some people say that you simply need to eat healthy to lose weight. Others will tell you all the clean eating benefits.
And then you‘ll read why should you choose organic food. Eat organic and you will lose fat fast.
Well, I always ask this: What do you do when you hit weight loss plateau? Eat even more organic? No. You reduce you calories because that‘s what really matters. Calories in, calories out.
My point is: the only way to make your body tap into stored energy (fat cells) is to create calorie deficit. If you don’t have this, nothing else is important. You can eat the most organic or healthiest food in the world but if, at the end of the day, you consume more calories than you burn, fat loss won’t occur.
You stay frustrated with slow weight loss…
Read our article on setting calories for weight loss the right way.
How To Fix It:
There are many ways to achieve calorie deficit:
- Tracking calories by using calorie calculators
- Increasing physical activity
- Getting on diet (eg. Flexible diet, low-carb, keto, intermittent fasting, paleo…)
- Reducing carbohydrate and/or fat intake
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I love this topic!
Cheat day refers to a day of eating anything you want without counting calories. That’s like a reward for being on the diet the whole week. But there is a problem with that. Originally, cheat day was called cheat meal. I don’t know how or when, but it has been transformed into cheat day.
Lets do some math. You’ve been dieting six days of the week by cutting 500 calories every day. That would be 3000 calories over six days.
Here comes Sunday funday, your cheat day. Along with your usual breakfast you eat 5 candies and that’s about 350 calories. Lunch is up next. Along with that, you get a burger at Macdonald. Another 800 calories (at least). And finally, dinner. You eat your dinner and add chocolate on top of that. Another 360 calories.
Add these calories up (a bit over 2000 cal) and you have almost wasted all the calories that you cut during those six days. You would be so surprised how easy it is to overeat over one day and waste everything that you’ve been working so hard the whole week.
How To Fix It?
Instead of eating as much as you want the whole day, you should eat anything you want for a meal. Or, even better, use 80/20 rule. Use 20% of your daily calories for anything you like. That way, you wouldn’t even need a cheat day.
More detailed article on 80/20 rule just here.
Fasted Cardio Burns More Fat
I bet you‘ve heard how cool fasted cardio is, how much better it burns fat yada yada yada.
Performing fasted cardio continues to be a popular strategy to improve body composition, yet little research has examined how nutritional manipulations influence energy expenditure and/or fat oxidation (burning) while minimizing protein degradation (muscle loss) (Gieske BT, et al. 2018).
In a recent study by Gieske BT et al. (2018) not only did they study whether fasted cardio works but they studied if there is a difference in fat oxidation (burning) when consuming different foods prior cardio.
They had four groups:
- Fasted group – no food before cardio
- WPI group – ingested whey protein isolate prior cardio
- CAS group – ingested casein protein
- MAL group – ingested carbohydrates in a form of maltodextrin
The findings were very interesting.
Protein consumption prior cardio significantly increased post-exercise energy expenditure compared to MAL and fasted group. Post exercise fat oxidation was improved following protein ingestion.
Throughout cardio, fasting (fasted group) did not yield more fat oxidation versus carbohydrate or protein groups. So there was no difference in fat loss whether subjects ate before cardio or not.
How To Fix It?
If you do fasted cardio in the morning because you like it or that‘s the only time that you can do it, great, go for it.
If you do fasted cardio in the morning because you think it burns fat faster and better, you better off staying in bed for an hour longer.
Not Eating Past Certain Time (eg. 6 pm)
Here’s what I’ll tell you – your body does not know what time of the day it is. Simple as that.
When someone asks me if he or she can eat past 6 I say: “Tell me. What would happen if you eat one minute past 6 pm?”. And the answer is Nothing. Nothing will happen that wouldn’t happen after a meal during any other time of the day.
And what about night eating?
Nighttime eating, particularly before bed, is a topic that has received considerable media attention in recent years. Over the past decades it was thought that health and weight conscious individuals should limit and/or avoid food in the hours close to nighttime sleep because it would negatively impact health and body composition. Ultimately, this may increase the risks for diseases such as obesity and diabetes (Amber W.K.)
However, recent studies investigating the impact of pre-sleep nutrient intake have reported positive physiological outcomes in various populations.
In addition, when nighttime feeding is combined with exercise training, any adverse effects appear to be eliminated in obese populations.
How To Fix It?
There’s nothing to fix, really. You can eat any time of the day if you take care of daily calorie intake in the first place.
Under Eating Protein
One of the most important factors to consider when setting up your weight loss program is sufficient protein intake.
Over the past 20 years, higher-protein diets have been touted as a successful strategy to prevent or treat obesity through improvements in body weight management. These improvements are thought to be due, in part, to modulations in energy metabolism, appetite, and energy intake (Leidy HJ et al, 2015).
Read our article on choosing the right protein source.
Thermic Effect Of Food
There is a thing called thermic effect of food (TEF).
It refers to the increase in energy expenditure above basal fasting level. Thermic effect is different for each nutrient.
Reported thermic effect values for separate nutrients are:
- 0 to 3% for fats
- 5 to 10% for carbohydrates
- 20 to 30% for protein
- 10 to 30% for alcohol
So that means, just by increasing protein intake, you are actually increasing calories to be burnt just to digest that protein.
How To Fix It?
Many of us have a hard time increasing protein intake, especially, women. Your best bet to eat more protein is to eat more protein dense foods. Instead of eating salmon, consider switching to tuna every now and then. A can of tuna gives you around 35 grams of protein whereas salmon – around 20 grams.
Instead of sugar filled yoghurt, you could switch to greek yoghurt mixed with berries. 200 g of greek yoghurt would give you 18-20 g of protein, whereas sugar filled one would give no more than 6-7 g.
You could find many small twists and, at the end of the day, you would be surprised how easy it is to get to 100 g (at least) of protein. And speed up that slow weight loss of yours.
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Oh how many times I heard people saying: “Why do I have slow weight loss? Why can’t I lose weight? I eat clean, I eat healthy…”.
We already talked about calories being key factor in successful weight loss program. People that want to sell their useless products will try to convince you that you have to eat clean in order to lose weight. And it’s just not true.
Meet Mark Haubes, a professor at Kansas University. He wanted to show what really matters for weight loss – calories in, calories out or eating healthy.
So for 10 weeks, his diet consisted of Orios, Doritos, Twinkies, doughnuts, chocolates. Foods that are considered to make you gain weight. He made sure to consume no more 1800 calories a day and get enough of protein.
At the end of the diet, Haub lost 27 pounds of weight. His total body fat went down from 33.4% to 24.9% and his cholesterol levels changed for the better.
Now, is it healthy? Probably not. But it shows us that you can eat foods that you like and still lose weight.
How To Fix It?
Again, use 80/20 rule. Use 20% of your daily calories for anything you like. If you want, you could even save that 20% for another day and spend 40% of calories for anything you want. Anything.
Eat Every 2-3 Hours
The main idea behind it is that frequent meals will skyrocket your metabolism.
The idea of eating 5-6 small meals a day is popular between bodybuilders. Most of them would tell you that eating six times per day is the key to success. Why? According to them, you have to give your muscles constant influx of protein in order to build muscle or, in our weight loss case, not to lose it while being in caloric deficit.
However, there is a big, ugly BUT lurking around the corner…
There is this thing called ”protein absorption speed”. It basically tells us that different protein sources gets to the bloodstream in different times.
For example, it takes one hour for 2.9 g of protein from boiled egg to get to the bloodstream in a form of amino acids.
So, say, you eat four medium eggs which is roughly 22 g of protein. It would take about 7.5 hours for all of that protein to get to the bloodstream. That means, even 6 hours after eating four eggs, you would have amino acids floating in your bloodstream.
So, the claim that you must eat every 3 hours is straight up false.
Check out our article on protein benefits in terms of weight loss.
How To Fix It?
If you feel hungry by eating three meals, play around, try four or five meals. Contrary to that, if you‘re used to eating six times a day but still feel hungry, try eating less frequent which would give you more food volume for a single meal and, maybe, better satiety.
No matter how many times per day you eat, your metabolism stays the same. It won‘t affect whether you have slow weight loss, or fast.Egis R.
And there you go guys. Make sure not to believe something that has no scientific backup. Do your own research, try it for yourself and draw conclusions.
The rest of the mistakes, I will cover in Part 2.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Here’s what I want from you:
Which mistake has been bothering you?