Been starving ourselves for days, depressed, lacking energy as our co-workers feast on cookies, crisps and doughnuts. Here we sit feeling sorry for ourselves, as we stare down at our lifeless salad bowl wondering when our transformation is going to come. Why is it when we think of diets, or going on a calorie deficit diet, the words “to go without, to sacrifice or a few weeks of misery,” all come to mind?
Well the first error we usually make when deciding to lose that unwanted fat, is starting off with the wrong mindset. If your focus is on what you are going to have to sacrifice rather than the better, healthier lifestyle you’re going to lead, then you’ve failed from the get-go. Nutrition plans are designed to better the quality of your life, not make it a daunting experience with yoyo results.
But If you still find yourself struggling to lose the fat and yet you’ve started off with positive feel good intentions, then here’s 5 possible mistakes you might be making on your transformation journey:
Mistake number 1: Thinking cardio is the best form of training for fat loss.
“Right that’s it! I’ve watched all of the Rocky movies, tomorrow I’m getting myself back into shape! I’m going to go for a run, where’s my head band… and where’s Adrian?!”
Let’s face facts, not many people enjoy cardio and most forms of cardio will only burn calories whilst you are training. So you go for a run, and you will burn some calories, however the moment you stop, so will your calorie burn. And as you probably know, you have to run a fair bit just to burn off that cheeky cookie you were nibbling on earlier, when you thought no one was looking. ;)
When it comes to the best form of training for calorie burn and fat loss, research has shown that resistance type training like hiit and weight lifting can drastically increase your fat burn long after your workout and increase your overall metabolic rate by up to 8%. Fat burning and muscle toning hormones like testosterone and appetite suppressing hormones like leptin are just some of the positive effectives that resistant training will have on your body.
Don’t get me wrong, cardio is great to burn extra calories, but if you are looking for aesthetics as well as fat loss with an increase in overall metabolic rate, then you can’t go wrong with a complete body workout that involves some form of resistance training.
Mistake number 2: Eating fat makes you fat.
Let’s get this right, fat in food is NOT fat on the body. The reason why fat gets so much bad press, apart from sharing the same name as the weight we are trying to shed, is because of it’s caloric value.
So if we take a plate of food and you have it divided into three parts (Macronutrients). You would have:
Carbohydrates (1 gram = 4 calories) = Bread, rice, potato’s, sugars
Protein (1 gram = 4 calories) = fish, chicken, beef, egg whites
Fats (1 gram = 9 calories) = avocado, nuts, cheese, oils, butter
So from this we see that per gram, fat has a whopping 9 calories more than Protein and Carbohydrates. In fact, it’s more than double! Well yes, it might be double the number of calories, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat double the number of calories. Apart from having a medical issue or sever hormonal imbalances, the only way you can put on fat is by eating more calories than your body burns. So if your body burns (BMR) 2000 calories a day and you consume 3000 a day, guess what? You are going to put on fat. Even if that fat is all from carbohydrates or from protein and none from fatty foods itself. They are all calories at the end of the day.
On a side note, dietary fat can actually prove beneficial to our fat loss journey, by increasing the production of our fat burning hormones as well as slowing down digestion that will decrease our appetite. So, avoiding fats from your daily intake could actually cause you to eat more calories on the whole. Also, for health reasons, your body needs fats! (Check out my other blog on this.)
Mistake number 3: Not being accountable for what we eat.
Like I do for all my clients, last year I set one particular client a daily caloric allowance. With this came a plan that illustrated specific meals to follow, to ensure they would have the nutrients needed to obtain the goal they were seeking.
Our aim in the second week was to lose 2lbs of body fat. Monitoring my clients daily record, it was looking good and we were on track. At the end of that week, we were excited to see the results and it turned out the client PUT ON OVER 2lbs OF BODY FAT IN A WEEK??!?! I looked at my client confused, as they swore blind that they were honest and followed the plan exactly…
… Scratching my head and going over the numbers over and over again, It simply didn’t make sense. So, the next day, I asked my client to take a photo of every meal they ate. It only took seconds for me to see what was causing the weight gain from their photos. My client seem to have forgotten to mention the copious amount of mayonnaise, ketchup and salad dressing they added to their meals and the 2 glasses of wine they were drinking every night!
Their response, “Oh I didn’t think that would make any difference.”
Well when we started adding this to the records, it turned out my client was consuming around a 1000 calories over their daily allowance. That’s 7,000 extra calories a week! To put things in more perspective, 1lbs of body fat = 3500 calories.
When tracking your calories, you have to make sure you are accountable for everything that goes into your body. If you want the results, you can’t assume that a small bag of crisps that hardly satisfied your hunger last night didn’t really count. It all counts, just because it might not show in your daily food tracking, it will show on your body if you constantly repeat this neglect.
Mistake number 4: Consuming processed foods over nutrient dense foods.
If you were really hungry and I gave you a choice of a family sized bag of crisps and a pack of cookies, or a bowl of scrambled eggs with salad, which one would you really want to eat?
Whilst many processed foods look appetizing on the eyes, many contain a high number of calories with not much nutrient value that is beneficial to your needs (empty calories.) That’s why when you have foods that are packed full of nutrients like protein, vitamins, good carbs and healthy fats, your body has to work hard to digest them, making you feel fuller for longer.
Empty calorie based processed foods however, are quick to digest and usually takes place on your tongue rather than your digestive track (explains why chocolates can give you immediate happiness as it’s instantly digested the moment it enters your mouth.) When digestion happens on your tongue, your brain is immediately alerted to this satisfaction and can demand to want more, even more than it realizes it needs.
This is because the ghrelin hormone is normally released, signaling your hunger appetite and you usually end up over consuming on empty caloric foods because no nutritional value is provided. Thus taking longer to feel fuller, hence why it’s a lot easier to eat a pack of chocolate chip cookies over the same caloric value as a big bowl of scrambled eggs. Whilst cookies give you instant satisfaction on the tongue, eggs will need to be digested in your stomach and duodenum making you feel fuller for longer as the digestive process can take hours. This is when your leptin hormone gets released that tells your brain to stop eating because you are full.
Feeling peckish and fancy a bag of pickled onion monster munch or a KitKat which won’t really feel you up? Then reach for a protein shake instead, get decent nutrients in your body with high protein content that will make your body work harder to digest and ultimately curb your appetite.
Mistake number 5: Not sleeping enough
I won’t get into the details about how much sleep we should be getting, as everyone will be different and that’s a topic for another time. I admit I’m not the best example when it comes to sleep. But here’s the facts in a nutshell, lack of sleep will ultimately make you put on weight. The evidence for this is overwhelming.
Sleep deprivation will impact how your hormones regulate your appetite. As mentioned, leptin hormone is what makes you feel full and tells your body to stop eating, whilst on the other hand ghrelin triggers feelings of hunger. Studies show ghrelin can double even triple when you’re short on sleep.
Sleep deprivation also changes what foods you’re most interested in eating, creating more intense cravings to want to eat high carb usually sugar laden foods that can instantly bring satisfaction to your brain, which is desperate for it’s carb fix like a crazy heroine addict. Low on sleep, your brain is less likely to make reasonable decisions so you’re more likely to be impulsive and give into junk-food desires to satisfy that ghrelin gremlin.
Studies also show that continued sleep deprivation will likely cause you to eat more the next day. Lack of sleep will also make you more likely to eat more of your overall calories at night, which again can lead to another night of restless sleep as your body is busy trying to digest the ton of food you just munched. This then results in a vicious circle of feeling even more tired, releasing more ghrelin and gaining more fat. This kind of stress on the body will also negatively affect your ability to hold on to any muscle gain as you will often go into a catabolic state (muscle breakdown) thanks to the over producing stress releasing hormone: cortisol.
I cannot stress this enough; you have to approach your fat loss journey positively. Don’t punish yourself by eating next to nothing, you can still enjoy your food, just in moderation. The key to fat loss is and will always be eating in a caloric deficit BUT that healthily sustainable and one where you are disciplined in not to lose track. Fat loss should always be a positive journey, because if done right, it will result in you not only looking healthier but also feeling great with much more energy that will ultimately leads to a better quality of life.
Stuck on what steps to take for your weight loss journey? Well that’s what my 8 week nutrition plan and transformation plan is there for. Completely tailored to your needs, with a step by step week by week plan of action to keep you on track whilst fitting within your lifestyle.
Wishing you every success on your weight loss journey and I would be an honour to be part of it.
Have an amazing day!