7 Common Mistakes When Trying To Lose Weight (Here's Why You Aren't Losing Weight)Jan 02, 2023
7 COMMON MISTAKES PEOPLE MAKE WHEN TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT (WHY YOU AREN'T LOSING WEIGHT)
In America, 36.5% of adults are obese. Another 32.5% are overweight (here)
If you’ve ever tried dieting then you probably know the struggle of trying to stick to a diet and also figuring which diet is the best.
Keto, paleo, intermittent fasting, carnivore diet, Atkins, weight watchers…
They all claim to be the best and they all claim to be “the answer” to weight loss.
Despite having all these different "diets" it seems that no matter what you do, you can't seem to find the "perfect" strategy that will help you shed the pounds.
Technically every diet CAN work, but only if it works for you and your lifestyle / food preferences.
One of the biggest reasons most people fail to lose fat is because they have subscribed to a "diet" that is not sustainable for them long term and they don't understand how fat loss actually works.
Over the years I’ve helped thousands of clients lose fat and actually make lasting change (meaning they don't gain it back right away) because we focus on creating a system they actually enjoy and look forward to.
Here are the most common mistakes you should avoid when working towards fat loss.
MISTAKE #1 THINKING EATING HEALTHY IS HOW YOU LOSE WEIGHT
How many times have you heard someone say “I need to start eating healthier so I can lose weight?”
We’ve all heard it and at some point we’ve all probably thought this.
When we think of very “fit” people, we typically don’t conjure up images of people sitting on a couch munching on potato chips and eating ice cream.........
We think of people eating salads, fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean meats, and always making great choices.
I’m not saying that you can’t lose weight eating healthy……
You absolutely can….
But you can also lose weight eating junk food.
Losing fat has NOTHING to do with eating "healthy" or "unhealthy"
Your body is not saying “Oh it’s veggies, let’s start losing weight” …
Or “Oh it’s those Twinkies again, time to start gaining fat”
Fat loss is about total energy consumption and energy expenditure.
If you have excess energy in your system, you store fat.
Fat = energy storage.
One of the reasons why people have such a hard time losing fat is because they try to make major shifts in their eating habits and patterns.
Once they "mess up" and eat something they weren't supposed to, they become demotivated and decide they don't have the "discipline" to get fit.
So if you find yourself struggling to “adhere” to a healthy diet to lose weight, try a more flexible eating regimen that allows you to eat anything you want and still lose fat.
The less resistance or change in eating habits you have during your fat loss phase, the more likely you will be able to follow through long term.
This is why my clients get such great results is because they don't feel like they are dieting and they aren't restricting anything from their diet.
There are no food restrictions and they can eat WHATEVER they want.
This makes losing fat much more enjoyable and easier to follow through with long term.
MISTAKE #2 CUTTING OUT CARBS TO LOSE TO FAT
The keto fans are not going to like this one….
But carbohydrates have absolutely nothing to do with your ability to lose fat.
You can lose fat while cutting carbs, but you can also gain fat while cut carbs.
In fact, there have been some incredible meta analysis studies where severely obese individuals were given a high carb rice diet and were able to lose on average 140lbs (63.9kg) (here)
So why does keto seem so effective for weight loss?
It’s because carbohydrate consumption affects water retention / absorption.
The more carbohydrates you eat, the more water you retain.
So when someone starts doing keto by cuttting out a lot of their carbs, there is a significant reduction in water retention, causing the scale weight to drop fast.
In other words, when people drop a lot of weight quickly when doing keto, it's because they are mostly dehydrating themselves of water.
Not because they are losing fat.
Once the initial weight weight reduction occurs, weight loss slows down greatly or becomes non existent.
When accounting for the same caloric intake, there is no difference in fat loss between those who eat high levels of carbs and those who eat very little carbs.
The reason I say cutting carbs is a mistake is because MOST people can’t adhere to low carbs for the rest of their life.
So while there can be some fat loss doing keto, most people seem to gain it all back once they start eating carbs again.
This is because their body starts to retain water more water again.
Also....let’s face it …. Carbs are AMAZING
Most people are not able to cut out carbs long term.
My philosophy has always been "if you can't do it for 10 years, don't do it for 10 minutes"
IF you want to have the best chance of losing fat and keeping it off, AND you love carbs, you must engage in a setup that allows you to eat plenty of carbs and still lose fat.
Remember, carbs have NOTHING to do with fat loss.
NOTE: IF you love doing little to no carbs and feel that you can maintain that type of eating regimen indefinitely, then keto can be a great option to explore.
MISTAKE #3 ENGAGING IN INTERMITTENT FASTING
I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “‘I’m so hungry right now but I can’t eat because it’s not my “eating window””
They’ve heard that once you hit “ketosis” your body burns fat as fuel instead of carbs
Yes this is true, you do burn fat during ketosis
But fat burning and fat loss are two different things
Every time you eat, regardless of the timing, you are also storing fat.
Fat loss is the difference between how much fat you burn versus how much fat you store during the day.
If you are burning more fat than storing, you will lose fat
If you are storing more fat than burning, you will gain fat.
Studies show that there is no significant difference in fat loss whether someone engages in fasting or not (here)
PMID - 35531785
The reason I say fasting is a mistake is because many people who do fasting believe their results come from eating in a certain window, when in fact the window doesn’t matter for fat loss.
The real reason fasting CAN work is because when you eat in a smaller time window you are less likely to consume as many calories during the day than when you eat over a longer period of time.
IF you find skipping meals, intermittent fasting, or any timed eating regimen to be very challenging then I suggest finding a setup that works best for you, your lifestyle, and your eating preferences.
My clients easily lose fat without having to skip meals or do timed eating (though some of my clients prefer and thrive on this setup)
MISTAKE #4 TOO MUCH EMPHASIS ON MACROS
I can’t tell you how many times I've had someone call me and say…
“I don’t understand why I’m not losing weight, I hit my macros perfectly every day and nothing is changing”
What you must understand is that macros have NOTHING to do with fat loss.
Fat loss is the amount of fat stored minus the amount of fat burned during a day.
If more fat is being stored through food consumption than is being burned during the day you will gain fat …
It doesn’t matter what macro percentage breakdown you are following.
What macros CAN do is determine how much food you get to eat during the day, how full you feel during the day, and overall body composition.
Macros have NOTHING to do with fat loss.
If you are wanting fat loss, you need to focus your time on total caloric consumption.
NOT your macronutrient breakdown.
You can lose fat hitting your macros, but you can also gain or maintain fat hitting macros.
Where macros can be helpful is helping increase the volume of food you get to eat.
When you choose less calorie dense foods, it means you get to eat more volume.
When you eat foods higher in protein, you typically stay more full during the day.
However, the most important thing is to keep track of total caloric consumption and find an eating setup that allows you to eat foods you really enjoy and maximize satiety
You can completely screw up ALL your “macro percentage goals” and still crush fat loss.
I never have my clients focus at all on carbs or fats, we always just focus on calories and protein consumption to ensure a fat loss environment while maintaining lean muscle and satiety during the fat loss phase.
MISTAKE #5 THINKING WEIGHT LOSS AND FAT LOSS ARE THE SAME THING
While these terms can seem like semantics, they are two very different things.
Weight loss refers to the total amount of body weight being reduced.
This CAN include fat loss….
But it also can include reduction in water retention and muscle mass among other things.
There are MANY variables to scale weight fluctuations.
Just because the scale goes down, doesn’t mean you are losing fat.
Just because the scale hasn’t moved doesn’t mean you aren’t in a fat loss environment.
FAT LOSS is the reduction of body fat.
Fat loss occurs when you burn fat at a greater rate than you store fat.
Putting emphasis on scale weight determine if you are hitting your fat loss goals is a mistake because variables such as water retention, lean muscle mass, food intake, etc can cause lots of fluctuations in scale weight.
Typically if someone puts in a lot of effort to “lose weight” and doesn’t see the scale change after a week of sacrificing, they become very unmotivated.
Lack of motivation is the real culprit behind lack of progress because this is typically when people “give up”.
Instead of looking at day to day scale weight fluctuations, you should look at how the weekly averages are progressing over time.
Weekly averages tend to be a better indicator of fat loss.
Also take into consideration how you are looking and feeling.
Are your clothes fitting any different? Are you seeing more definition in any parts of your body? Do your pants fit better?
I’ve had many clients over the years keep a relatively similar “weight” but look VASTLY different (for the better)
Over time they built some lean muscle, trimmed up body fat, etc.
Though the scale doesn’t show “significant” changes, they look FAR better than before.
Don’t put much emphasis on the scale, there are MANY factors that determine scale weight more often than not it becomes a demotivating factor causing people to stop prematurely because they “aren’t seeing results”....
MISTAKE #6 BEING TOO STRICT OR RESTRICTIVE ON YOUR DIET
This is a very common mistake and it comes from the idea..
“The more I limit certain foods and the more extreme of a “diet” I adhere to, the faster and better results I will see”
While this makes sense on the surface, it’s actually the very thing that typically causes people to fall off faster.
In general, the greater the shift in habit / routine, the more likely someone is going to fall off or fail.
It’s not because they aren’t motivated enough, it’s because it’s working against their own psychology.
There’s a reason you do what you do currently – you get pleasure from it.
When you cut off all pleasure / rewards, it makes it very challenging to stick to it long term…
Doesn’t mean you can’t, but over the years of working with thousands of clients, I rarely see it happen successfully.
IF someone is going from all fast food and shifting to a raw vegan diet to lose weight, they will most likely have a hard time following through long term.
SURE, they may stick with it temporarily, but they won’t get the same dopamine hits they get from fast food.
Most people can only fight off cravings for so long until they finally indulge.
What’s ironic is that the indulgence is hardly ever the issue….
It’s how the person treats themselves from indulging that is the problem.
That’s typically when the person beats themselves up for “not sticking to the diet”
This in turn demotivates the person and they say “what’s the point, I already messed up”
You can eat WHATEVER you want and still lose fat, you just need to know what to focus on.
Typically, the greater the flexibility, the easier it is to follow through long term (because you have no restrictions)
MISTAKE #7 TRYING TO LOSE TOO FAST
Listen I get it, you want to lose weight and you want to lose it FAST.
It’s the mentality of “just rip off the band aid fast and get it over it”
Countless clients have told me before starting together “I'm okay with going extreme to get this fat off fast, I'll do whatever it takes”
While this is great in theory, this kind of mentality is usually more detrimental than advantageous.
In general, you should aim to lose about 1% of your body weight per week.
Losing faster than 1% of your body weight can potentially cause many issues
ISSUE #1 MUSCLE LOSS
ANY TIME you are in a fat loss environment, you are prone to losing muscle as well.
This is because your body HATES losing fat (it’s a survival mechanism)
To compensate, your body tries to utilize muscle for energy (causing muscle loss).
This is not good because your muscle makes up a large percentage of your overall metabolism.
If you lose muscle, your metabolism will decrease.
I talk about this in more detail in my blog "Does Metabolism Slow With Age"
The key to preventing muscle lose is to make sure you don't lose more than 1% of your body weight per week (the slower the fat loss the less likely you are to lose muscle)
This helps preserve metabolism during a lean down phase.
Losing fat too fast, greater than 1% of your body weight per week, will likely lead to muscle atrophy / degradation…
The goal when leaning down isn’t to just get skinnier, the goal is to get more defined and maintain metabolism during the process.
ISSUE #2 SUSTAINABILITY AND ENJOYMENT
Another issue with losing too fast is that it makes the fat loss process a lot less enjoyable.
Once you push for more than 1% of your body weight in fat loss per week, typically you will be dealing with much greater hunger pains and it will require MUCH more effort on the energy expenditure side of things (workouts).
Typically I find that clients that are too focused on fast results are approaching it with the wrong mindset.
They are too myopic (short term) in thinking.
Remember, once you lose the fat you have MANY years ahead of you for maintenance and achieve the next level.
What's an extra 2-3 months when you have 30 years of your life ahead of you?
Focus on the long term habit shifts - which will come from simple modest adjustments that are very sustainable.
Hardly eating, working out like crazy, and fighting off severe hunger pains will rarely lead to long term fat loss
This is typically the cause of yo yo dieting
Having a long term, easy to follow system that doesn’t feel like you are dieting is the key to not only shedding fat, but permanently staying lean
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