4 Common Diet Mistakes That Sabotage Your Health and Stall Fat Loss
Not being in a calorie deficit
According to some “experts,” losing weight and keeping it off is all about controlling the types of food you eat.
They say particular foods are “fattening” because they pause fat burning and cause a hormonal environment that leads to weight gain… while other foods “balance” the system and stimulate fat loss.
While that’s partially true, it doesn’t give you the full picture. The reason is that if you want to lower the number on your scale, the most important thing you must do is enter a caloric deficit.
It’s simple. If you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight. And if you consume fewer calories than you burn, you’ll lose weight. That’s a scientific fact.
Looking for proof? Well, dozens of studies show the vitality of calorie balance.[3-19] One of these is a case study by Mark Haub, a professor of human nutrition at Kansas State University.
He carried excess pounds and, knowing the importance of calorie balance, decided to do an experiment. For two months, he only ate foods like Twinkies, Oreos, Dorito, and protein shakes while maintaining a daily energy deficit of 800 calories.
The result? In just two months, he lost 27 pounds and reduced his body fat from 33.4% to 24.9%.
Now, I don’t recommend you follow such a diet, but it illustrates my point. If you want to lose fat, you must be in a calorie deficit.
Severe calorie restriction that gives you the metabolism of a 90-year-old lady
If an energy deficit of 250 calories a day will get you lean, a 1,000-calorie deficit will give you the results four times as fast, right?
Wrong! Many people make this mistake, and I used to do it too before I knew any better.
The truth is, severe calorie deficits screw up your physiology. That’s why almost all low-calorie dieters regain the lost pounds when they stop the program… plus, most often gain some more on top of that.
You see, your body doesn’t know you’re trying to get ripped for the beach. Instead, because you’re starving yourself, it thinks you’re stranded with no food.
As a result, your body’s metabolism will plummet to prevent you from losing weight. This means that as soon as you come off your diet, your body will store as much food as possible as fat to prepare itself for the next starvation.
That’s why it’s essential to eat according to a calorie target fine-tuned for your body, your situation, and your goals.
Thinking all calories are created equal
Thus far, we’ve looked at calories. And while calories are a crucial piece of the fat loss puzzle, they’re in no way the only thing that matters. You see, when most people say they want to lose weight, they actually strive to improve their health and look better.
The thing is, if you want to accomplish such feats, you shouldn’t strive for weight loss. Instead, set your sights on fat loss. That’s because losing weight doesn’t necessarily improve health and appearance, but losing fat does.
Now, when it comes to fat loss, calories remain a crucial element. But what is just as crucial is your macro intake. In other words, your consumption of protein, carbs, and fat is vital. How you set up your macros has a profound effect on how your body will respond to the meals you eat.
For example, if you consume too many carbs, it’ll be near impossible to lose fat even if you maintain a calorie deficit. That’s because carbs spike insulin, a hormone that blunts fat loss in two main ways.
One of these is that elevated insulin levels block the release of fat from your fat cells.[21-23] And if your cells can’t release fat, your body can never burn off the excess.
Second, elevated insulin levels cause the storage of energy found in your bloodstream to morph into body fat cells.[23-25] This means the energy won’t get burned off by tissues like muscle but instead snakes its way around to places like your hips and abs.
That’s why researchers call insulin the “fat storage hormone,” and that’s why carb-rich diets make it nearly impossible to lose fat.
Insulin is but one example. Optimizing your macros is crucial for many more reasons, so in a minute I’ll show you how to set up your macros to triple fat loss.
The best part? The method I’ll show you in a minute from now is effortless to follow and never leaves you hungry. In fact, this eating style is so satiating and easy to follow that you would probably forget you were on a diet if you weren’t losing fat so fast.
Following an unrealistic, overly restrictive diet
Willpower works like a battery – you only have so much of it until it runs out. That’s why very restrictive diets deplete your willpower, increase your cravings, and lead to binging – the exact opposite of what you want when trying to build your dream body.[26-27]
I’ve seen it countless times before… a guy or gal who is dedicated to losing weight and getting healthy. To kick things off, they start a diet that only allows food like tilapia, asparagus, and chicken. After all, that’s what the fitness magazines recommend.
While the results are great in the beginning and the dieter loyally brings Tupperware boxes packed with “healthy” meals wherever they go, their willpower eventually runs out and that diet gets tossed out the window.
Just keep in mind that dieting itself is already hard. Don’t make it even harder for yourself by enforcing all kinds of unnecessary restrictions. Otherwise, you’ll likely take on a “screw it” mentally after a few weeks or even days, wake up in a sea of Twinkie wrappers and be back to square one.