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5 Critical Beginner Fat Loss Mistakes You Must Avoid!

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After 10 years of coaching thousands of clients I’ve seen the same few critical fat loss mistakes.

If you’re hoping to start dieting in ways that will forever change your body composition, it will be essential to avoid the following fat loss mistakes and hit the ground running, setting yourself up for long-term success.

After all, dieting is hard enough even when you have a coach and the perfect plan. It’s near impossible if you are making any of these 5 fat loss mistakes discussed below…

Here are the most common beginner fat loss mistakes I’ve seen and how to avoid them!

Fat Loss Mistake #1: Failing To Focus On Energy Balance

Not focusing on energy balance is easily the biggest fat loss mistake beginners and even seasoned dieters make.

Energy balance is the theory that, in order to adjust your body composition and weight, you’ll need to eat an amount of energy (calories) that will be conducive to your goal. For instance, in order to lose weight, you’ll need to have a negative energy intake, meaning you’re expending more calories that you consume.

On the other hand, if your aim is to build muscle or increase body weight, you’ll need to eat right around your energy balance, or have a slightly positive energy balance, meaning you are consuming more calories than you expend throughout the day.

Unfortunately, many people aren’t aware that this is necessary or they simply don’t know which side of the equation they land on.

When it comes to dieting, many people decide to eat higher quality foods which often means they end up consuming fewer calories overall, placing them in a negative energy balance state. Unfortunately, when metabolism adapts, this energy balance slowly moves away from being negative and thus, weight loss stops.

I suggest finding your maintenance calorie intake, or the amount of calories you can consume without either losing or gaining weight (energy balance), and then adjust your intake, based on that number, to ensure you are on the right side of the equation for your goal.

Eventually, simply eating better will stop working so knowing how to continue will be essential.

Fat Loss Mistake #2: Not Focusing On Satiating Foods

A major reason beginners aren’t successful with weight loss attempts is that they do not consume satiating foods.

Dieting can be quite difficult, especially if you aren’t used to doing it. Hunger sets in and often times, this can seem insurmountable. In order to successfully combat intense hunger, you need to ensure that a majority of your food comes from satiating sources.

Placing a primary emphasis on foods such as lean protein and fibrous veggies is essential if you’re hoping to have an easier time while restricting calories.

Both protein and fibrous vegetables have a low calorie density, meaning that you can eat a large amount, while consuming few calories. Additionally, both of these food groups act to reduce hunger because they slow digestion (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

This prolongs the time you feel full. In essence, you get quality nutrients, which slow digestion and make you feel less hungry.

While dieting, I suggest having at least 80% of your intake from high quality protein and vegetable sources.

Fat Loss Mistake #2: Being Too Restrictive

Restriction is a hallmark of dieting. Whether it is restricting calories or food groups, most people with any dieting history have experienced restriction to some extent while dieting.

Unfortunately, when it comes to beginners, often times restriction is taken too far.

Many beginners start dieting by restricting entire food groups, avoiding things they enjoy such as sweets or pizza assuming that doing so will provide weight loss.

While restricting these types of food on occasion can certainly reduce calorie intake, and thus produce weight loss, doing so is typically not sustainable.

The issue with being so restrictive is that when you diet, you should be focused on creating sustainable changes so that once you lose the weight, you can keep it off for the rest of your life.

If you enjoy eating pizza and decide you need to entirely restrict it on a diet, this can present long-term issues, leading to accidental bingeing and destruction of weight loss after your diet ends.

I strongly suggest that rather than totally restricting foods you enjoy that may be considered “unhealthy,” find ways to incorporate them into your diet, in moderation. This way you can create a sustainable approach to food, long after the dieting period is over.

The truth is that one or two pieces of pizza won’t directly cause weight gain. However, ten may have a significant impact. Just remember that things like pizza or ice cream only become a serious issue if they cause over consumption of calories, not simply because they are considered unhealthy.

Rather than eliminating food groups you love, find lower calorie alternatives and incorporate them into your diet in moderation. Doing so will create a sustainable practice, resulting in weight loss while allowing you to enjoy foods you love.

Fat Loss Mistake #3: Reducing Calories Too Drastically

Secondary to not effectively manipulating energy balance, many beginners accidentally restrict far too many calories.

The human body is extremely adaptive in order for survival. When restricting calories, the body is no different.

When you initially restrict calories, the body responds by reducing body weight. This is an adaptive mechanism to ensure that you’ll be able to survive on a lower calorie intake. Eventually, however, your metabolism will adapt, meaning you need to reduce further to continue to lose weight.

If however, you reduced calories from 2500 to 1200, while you may see weight loss, you have little room to continue when your metabolism adapts to existing on less than 1200 calories, which can then become dangerous.

Rather than immediately restricting calories drastically, I suggest starting with a 20% decrease.

This would mean that if you normally consume 2000 calories per day, you’d restrict your intake to 1800 per day. After a period of two to 3 weeks, consider reducing further by 10-20%.

Sequentially reducing calories will allow for meaningful weight loss that can continue rather than initially restricting entirely, with nowhere else to go from there.

Fat Loss Mistake #4: Following Diet Plans Of Celebrities

In the world of social media, seeing fit individuals is par for the course. Additionally, many of these individuals provide programs or products which claim to achieve weight changes.

Unfortunately, many of these celebrities have always been fit and are able to adjust their training and nutrition, accordingly. That however does not mean they understand how to help you, as an individual.

For instance, a diet and training program for a young celebrity in great shape is far different to the plan needed for a middle-aged individual looking to lose 50 lbs. of body fat.

While it may seem logical that, if you practice the same methods as these celebrities, you will eventually end up looking like them, unfortunately it doesn’t typically work out how we all hope it would.

Rather than assuming a celebrity’s plan will work for you, find the right direction for you as an individual. Focus on having a sensible and scientific diet plan that focuses on energy balance, while having a sound, progressive training plan in place.

Having a program for you as an individual, based on your personal needs is far superior to following that of someone who is already in great shape. This is exactly why I create personalized plans so that you can find success tailored for you as an individual, rather than hoping someone else’s plan will work for your body.

5 Beginner Fat Loss Mistakes To Avoid

If you’re a beginner, hoping to lose weight and successfully change body composition, avoiding these beginner fat loss mistakes is imperative for sustained success.

These tips will put you on the fast track to a better body in ways that, once you achieve that desired change, you can ensure it stays that way.


  1. Halton, T. L., & Hu, F. B. (2004). The effects of high protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety and weight loss: a critical review. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(5), 373-385.
  2. Lorenzen, J., Frederiksen, R., Hoppe, C., Hvid, R., & Astrup, A. (2012). The effect of milk proteins on appetite regulation and diet-induced thermogenesis. European journal of clinical nutrition, 66(5), 622-627.
  3. Mojtahedi, M. C., Thorpe, M. P., Karampinos, D. C., Johnson, C. L., Layman, D. K., Georgiadis, J. G., & Evans, E. M. (2011). The effects of a higher protein intake during energy restriction on changes in body composition and physical function in older women. The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences, glr120.
  4. Cho, S. S., Case, I. L., & Nishi, S. (2009). Fiber and Satiety. Weight Control and Slimming Ingredients in Food Technology, 227.
  5. Lefranc-Millot, C., Macioce, V., Guérin-Deremaux, L., Lee, A. W., & Cho, S. S. (2012). Fiber and Satiety. Dietary Fiber and Health, 83.


About the author

Rudy Mawer, MSc, CISSN

Rudy has a 1st class BSc in Exercise, Nutrition & Health and a Masters in Exercise & Nutrition Science from the University of Tampa. Rudy currently works as a Human Performance Researcher, Sports Nutritionist and Physique Coach. Over 7 years he has helped over 500 people around the world achieve long last physique transformations.

He now works closely with a variety of professional athletes and teams, including the NBA, USA Athletics, World Triathlon Gold Medalists, Hollywood Celebrities and IFBB Pro Bodybuilders. If you would like to get in contact or work with Rudy please contact him on social media.

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