Published on May 24th, 2017 | by Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN0
10 Common Weight Loss Mistakes And How To Fix Them
After training over 500 clients and working with thousands of members going through the 90 Day Bikini plan I’ve found some very common weight loss mistakes.
Are you struggling to lose weight, or is progress just frustratingly slow compared to all the hard work you are putting in? If so, this article is for you.
In the following post, I’ll discuss 10 different reasons why you may not be losing weight, plus some ways to fix them.
Weight Loss Mistake 1: You’re Consuming Too Many Calories
When it comes to losing weight, you need to expend more calories than you consume. If you consume more calories than you expend, you’ll gain weight – it’s the basis of energy balance and science 101.
Far too often, people believe that there is some magic formula for losing weight, but the truth is before using any special technique or supplement, you’ll need to reduce calories to drop weight and then stay consistent at this lower calorie level.
Ensure that you determine your maintenance calorie intake, i.e. a number of calories you can consume without gaining or losing weight.
For fast weight loss and when combined with daily exercise, I usually recommend people aim for around 11-12 calories per 1LB bodyweight. For example:
- 100LB = 1100 – 1200 calories per day
- 125LB = 1375 – 1500 calories per day
- 150lb = 1650 – 1800 calories per day
- 175lb = 1925 – 2100 calories per day
- 200lb+ = 2200 – 2400 calories per day
Weight Loss Mistake 2: You’re Not Tracking Your Intake
In addition to reducing your total calories, the use of a tracking app to ensure that you are consuming fewer calories is essential when starting out, especially if you are unsure of the calorie/macro content of most foods.
The truth is we are not very good estimators, especially when it comes to something we can’t directly observe, such as calories. In fact, when testing trained dieticians who do this daily, their estimates were around 30% off! As even ‘experts’ were way out, it shows how difficult estimating calories actually is!
Additionally, many foods vary widely in terms of volume to calorie ratio. What may be 100 calories for one food, may be 1000 for another. For example, just a couple of handfuls of nuts may get you close to 1000 calories; even though they are healthy, they are not always weight-loss friendly.
By using a tracking app you can ensure that you are actually consuming fewer calories rather than simply guessing, even if it’s just in the short term while you diet down and learn the content of your favorite foods.
Weight Loss Mistake 3: You’re Not Moving Enough
In our current technological age, being active and moving around for most of the day is practically extinct. In fact, the recommended daily step count is 10,000, but most people average around 2000 on a normal working day.
This lack of movement combined with an abundance of high calorie processed food means that it’s very easy to overeat, hence the obesity epidemic.
To combat this terrible weight-loss wrecking imbalance, try to increase the amount of NEAT or non-exercise activity thermogenesis in your day. In short, NEAT describes all forms of movement and activity that isn’t structured exercise such as the gym. It’s a very important part of health and weight loss; in fact, some obesity researchers view the decline in NEAT as a key cause of obesity.
To increase NEAT try slight changes to routine, like parking farther away from the door of stores or work, opting to take the stairs rather than an escalator, walking to work or the shops, mowing the lawn more often, walking the dog, etc.
In doing so, you’ll indirectly increase a number of calories you expend, putting you on the fast track to weight loss and improving overall health.
If you think NEAT makes no real difference, one study indicated that by simply increasing NEAT, you might increase the amount of energy you expend by upwards of 300%! That can result in meaningful weight loss over time (1).
Weight Loss Mistake 4: You’re Not Lifting Heavy Weights
Another common weight loss mistake is that people avoid lifting weights and turn to cardio instead, thinking it’s better for fat loss. In reality, weight training is just as good, if not better for fat loss and provides numerous other benefits.
By using multi-joint movements like the squat, pull ups, presses and deadlifts, you are recruiting a large amount of muscle, which requires an abundance of energy to actually function. This means you burn way more calories and boost your metabolism so you keep burning fat even once you’ve left the gym.
Additionally, picking weight training over cardio may lead to an increase in muscle mass, which is energetically costly and requires a lot of energy to be maintained. Additionally, regular weight training and increased muscle mass helps you metabolize your carbs and food more efficiently, reducing insulin resistance. It also makes you stronger and sexy (2).
Cardio is still great for your health, but HIIT (interval training) and weight training can provide all of those benefits and many extra on top. In my opinion, and based on the research, this makes it a clear choice to make up the bulk of your workout plans (you can still do some cardio if you love it).
You can read all the benefits in my Cardio VS Weight Training article.
Weight Loss Mistake 5: You’re Not Doing Enough HIIT
As discussed above, while cardio is the common choice, it may actually be inferior when compared to weight training and HIIT.
While doing low intensity cardio may burn calories during the exercise session, HIIT training will increase the amount of energy you expend for the rest of the day, even up to 48 hours after the session!
HIIT also has numerous benefits, such as increasing speed/power, insulin sensitivity, increasing fat burning hormones, muscle mass maintenance (which often declines from cardio) and numerous health and heart benefits that match that of regular cardio.
If you are also short of time, you can get all the benefits in just 15 minutes per day, which equals around 60 minutes of regular cardio!
By using HIIT, you can burn a ton of calories, over a prolonged period, while only needing to exercise for a short amount of time (3). If you want to get started with HIIT, download my 30 Day HIIT Kick Start here.
Weight Loss Mistake 6: You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Ask any expert, they’ll tell you an extremely common weight loss mistake is not consuming enough high-quality protein.
Sadly, despite 100s of research studies showing its benefits, it is still one of the macronutrients most under consumed by the general public. For weight loss and physique optimization, protein is king. It has multiple benefits, which I’ll touch on below.
Firstly, due to the nature of how proteins are structured, it is difficult to digest and metabolize. This means that consuming more protein requires more calories to be burnt to digest it (4). In fact, it’s around 15% more than its counterparts – carbs and fat.
Additionally, this structure and resultant lengthy digestion process means that protein is satiating and reduces cravings (5). Reducing hunger during your diet is key and so the combo of lean proteins and lots of vegetables are a very smart strategy to do this.
Finally, protein is vital for optimizing the benefits of exercise. If you spend the hours training, then surely you would want to reap all the rewards for your efforts? Protein lets you do this, enhancing your adaptations, while also maintaining muscle mass when you are in a calorie deficit.
Weight Loss Mistake 7: You’re Not Eating Enough Vegetables
With the rise in flexible dieting and IIFYM, the under consumption of vegetables is another key dieting mistake.
In addition to providing vitamins and minerals, vegetables offer two distinct benefits when it comes to weight loss.
Vegetables are high in fiber, which means that they help with digestion and also feelings of fullness, meaning you’ll consume fewer calories (6). Fiber also feeds your gut health, which is key for general health and even fat loss.
Additionally, vegetables have a very large volume to calorie ratio, meaning you can consume a very large amount without actually consuming many calories. Here’s a visual graphic so you can understand the importance of calorie density and hunger.
This will provide immense feelings of fullness while also increasing your intake of minerals and fiber.
Weight Loss Mistake 8: You’re drinking too many calories
Unfortunately, many people assume that consuming beverages such as fruit juice or the latest juice detox drink will help them lose weight.
The truth is, doing so may actually be causing them to gain weight by adding in a ton of calorie dense sugar.
Fruit on its own and in its whole form is healthy and great for weight loss in moderation. While it does contain a sugar called fructose, fruit in its whole form also offers an abundance of satiating fiber, key antioxidants and micronutrients.
Fruit juice, on the other hand, provides all of the sugar of normal fruit with almost none of the fiber or other key minerals. Further, due to the liquid form, it’s very easy to digest, while whole fruit is more difficult, resulting in appetite suppression.
For example, one glass of orange juice may have 4-5 oranges. Ask yourself, what would fill you up more, 5 whole oranges, or a glass of orange juice?
Rather than drinking fruit, opt for whole fruit to obtain the satiating fiber and keep your calorie count down. When dieting, it is key to avoid all calorie based liquids, apart from protein shakes and possibly milk.
Opt for diet soda (in moderation), coffee/tea, flavored water and normal water.
Weight Loss Mistake 9: You’re Consuming Too Many Carbs (Use Carb Cycling Instead)
Carbohydrates on their own aren’t major drivers of fat gain and can still be eaten when dieting.
However (and this is a big however), just like fats, if they are consumed in excess relative to the needs of your body, they can certainly lead to fat gain or the inability to lose weight.
Rather than simply consuming large amounts of carbohydrate, I suggest increasing your protein intake along with cycling the amount of carbs you ingest on a daily basis, based on factors such as exercise, lifestyle, metabolism, insulin sensitivity and more.
For days that you have large workouts such as your leg day, increase the amount of carbs you consume while maintaining a calorie deficit.
On days that you don’t require as much energy such as on a rest day, maintain your calorie intake, but consume less carbohydrates overall.
By following a carb cycling approach, you’ll ensure you are only consuming as many carbs as you need while avoiding accidentally eating too many. Carb cycling is a great technique to get a nice healthy balance, without eliminating carbs completely, you can just consume them strategically.
(Related: Learn more and download my Carb Cycling 7 Day Meal plans here).
Weight Loss Mistake 10: You’re eating too much junk
It doesn’t take a genius to tell you that junk / processed food is a common weight loss mistake! Processed/junk food is not just high in calories but is also quite often comparatively low in nutrients too.
While eating too many calories is the number one reason for not losing weight, the type of foods you are eating may play an equally important role.
By opting for protein and whole and fiber rich foods, you’ll allow yourself to eat more food, while consuming fewer calories (6).
Increasing your protein intake will provide increased satiety and energy expenditure, while vegetables will provide a large volume of food and fiber intake.
By opting for whole, nutrient dense food, you’ll ensure you’re eating enough of the right types of food for your goal, rather than eating too little of the important nutrients.
10 Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Losing weight can often be difficult, but there may be a number of different reasons that you aren’t losing weight without realizing.
By adjusting your lifestyle to follow the previously mentioned tips, you should find yourself on the path to weight loss success in no time.
If you want a proven 7 day fat loss plan, check out the 90 Day Bikini plan here:
1. Levine, J. A., Vander Weg, M. W., Hill, J. O., & Klesges, R. C. (2006). Non-exercise activity thermogenesis. Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology, 26(4), 729-736.
2. Staron, R. S., Karapondo, D. L., Kraemer, W. J., Fry, A. C., Gordon, S. E., Falkel, J. E., … & Hikida, R. S. (1994). Skeletal muscle adaptations during early phase of heavy-resistance training in men and women. Journal of applied physiology, 76(3), 1247-1255.
3. Tremblay, A., Simoneau, J. A., & Bouchard, C. (1994). Impact of exercise intensity on body fatness and skeletal muscle metabolism. Metabolism, 43(7), 814-818.
4. Westerterp, K. R. (2004). Diet induced thermogenesis. Nutrition & metabolism, 1(1), 5.
5. Veldhorst, M., Smeets, A. J. P. G., Soenen, S., Hochstenbach-Waelen, A., Hursel, R., Diepvens, K., … & Westerterp-Plantenga, M. (2008). Protein-induced satiety: effects and mechanisms of different proteins. Physiology & behavior, 94(2), 300-307.
6. Lefranc-Millot, C., Macioce, V., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Lee, A. W., & Cho, S. S. (2012). Fiber and Satiety. Dietary Fiber and Health, 83.
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