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Troubleshooting Fat Loss – Figuring Out What’s Wrong

fat loss

One of the most common inquiries that I get online is about the inability to lose body fat. Many times, I receive questions from individuals who feel like they’re doing enough, yet just aren’t seeing any results.

Often, the solution is simple but sometimes the answers are a bit less clear. Not to mention, many people think that they’re doing the right things, even though they aren’t.

Lastly, in my extensive experience, I’ve found that people are often lying to, or at least deceiving, themselves for one reason or another. This results in missing out on even simple suggestions or easy steps to implement.

In this article, I’ll touch on some different questions that you need to answer when attempting to troubleshoot your ineffective fat loss diet. After reading this information, you might learn a few things about yourself, as well as some steps to take to find the success you desire.

Question 1: Are You Being Honest?

The first question that I always recommend asking is whether or not you’re being completely honest with yourself.

Dishonesty with oneself is often the number one reason that people aren’t seeing the success they desire. This dishonesty can stem from all different directions ranging from training, nutrition and even lifestyle habits.

For example, perhaps you don’t track all of the calories you’re eating or perhaps you’re acting like you’re 100% devoted to give the impression that you’re doing what it takes. Furthermore, maybe you’re taking it easy during workouts or skipping workouts whenever you can.

If you aren’t seeing the progress you desire, I recommend reevaluating and attempting to be honest with yourself. Are you putting forth the level of effort needed to change to the degree that you want? Are you lying to keep up appearances?

Just remember that no matter how many lies you tell or whatever you say to convince yourself that you’re doing what’s necessary, at the end of the day, your actual effort with be displayed by the changes your body undergoes.

Being honest with yourself might reveal where things have gone wrong and what you need to do to continue or even start progressing.

Question 2: Are You Diligently Tracking Food?

If you want to see results with weight loss, you need to track food. Even if you’re eating all healthy foods, weight loss comes down to calorie balance and, eventually, you’ll need to adjust your calorie intake regardless of the foods you’re eating.

Tracking calories and macros gives you a level of precision that you can’t get otherwise. By tracking foods, you get to eat what you desire, which improves sustainability, but it also takes food out of the equation.

If you track food diligently and still don’t lose weight, then you’ll know that it’s because of some other variable than the foods you’re eating. In terms of troubleshooting an ineffective diet plan, knowing that your food isn’t the issue is priceless.

If you’re not tracking food and not losing weight, I highly recommend you start. If you are tracking yet aren’t losing weight, you either need to track more closely or adjust your calorie and macro requirements accordingly.

Question 3: Are You Doing Too Much?

One of the most common inquiries I get goes something like this. People message in all the time and mention that they workout 7 times per week, sometimes twice per day, are restricting calories and still aren’t losing weight.

If this describes you, you need to take a break.

I understand the motivation to change is strong. You’ve spent your whole life chasing this dream body that never seems to come to fruition. You’ve heard exercise and nutrition is key so you figure more is better. Unfortunately, there are many issues with this scenario.

First, if you’re training constantly and never resting, you probably have poor recovery. Combine this with a calorie restrictive diet and I can almost guarantee that you’re not recovering.

In addition to your inability to recover, it’s likely that your stress levels are through the roof, even if you don’t feel like it. Having chronically elevated stress hormones like cortisol can lead to your metabolism slowing and your body hoarding fat tissue, making weight loss difficult.

If you’re constantly training all day, every day and restricting calories, it’s a really good idea to dial things back. Learn about incorporating re-feeds and taking diet breaks regularly.

Regardless, if you find that you’re not losing weight, yet training 7 or more times per week, it’s time to give yourself a break. Your body will thank you.

fat loss

Question 4: Are You Eating The Right Foods?

It’s true that weight loss relies on calories in versus calories out, but that’s overly simplistic. It’s important to know that while calories definitely matter, the various macronutrients you consume act all differently to each other.

For example, protein is digested differently than carbohydrates and carbohydrates are digested differently than fats. Further, the various types of each macronutrient are also digested differently from their counterparts.

This means that the types of foods you eat still have different functions in the body and influence your food intake differently.

A good example is eating an equivalent amount of chicken protein compared to whey protein. Indeed, these are both healthy options and both are, of course, protein-centric. However, one of these options will significantly reduce hunger, while the other will only have minimal effect.

In this example, chicken protein is much more complex protein than whey. Whereas whey is liquid and just requires breaking of bonds, chicken protein has to be broken down and then go through the same process as whey. When this occurs, chicken can slow down digestion, reducing appetite significantly.

Even further, compare an equivalent amount of calories coming from a pop tart compared to a chicken salad. Whereas the salad provides large amounts of satiating fiber and protein, the pop tart does not. Even though the calories are the same, their influence on hunger is not and when you’re restricting calories and attempting to lose weight, this can be meaningful.

If you find that you’re not losing weight, yet are still tracking calories (and even if you aren’t) consider reevaluating the types of foods you’re consuming. You might surprise yourself and find a solution.

fat loss

Question 5: Have You Been Restricting Too Long?

In a similar vein as question 3, you need to ask whether or not you’ve been trying too long. If you’ve been attempting weight loss for a long time, it’s possible that you’ve been restricting calories for too long.

As I’ve discussed in other articles, chronic calorie restriction leads to metabolic adaptation. This means that the body becomes more efficient, reducing calorie burn for any given activity. Even worse, this can also reduce your spontaneous activity during the day, meaning even fewer calories being burned.

If you’ve been restricting for a long time, but aren’t seeing results, I strongly recommend using re-feeds and taking a break from dieting altogether.

Recognizing The Signs

Of course you can ask yourself these questions but I also recommend that you try to use logic. Many times I receive messages from people who are intensely restricting calories and also training more than 7 times a week. In this case if you aren’t seeing results, you have to consider what your options are.

Traditionally when weight loss isn’t occurring, the first suggestion is to increase exercise and decrease calories. But if you’ve already done that and aren’t seeing results, it’s probably best to try something different.

I understand that this process can be confusing, which is why I’m in the position I am. However, it’s important to know that many times, what makes sense logically is not necessarily the best move. Not always but sometimes.

Lastly, to know these things sometimes takes a trained eye. If you’re in this position and still worried about what to do, consider looking into elite coaching here, where I can personally guide you through this process.

fat loss

Troubleshooting Fat loss

If you’re doing what’s necessary for fat loss, yet still aren’t seeing results, you’ll need to go into full troubleshoot-mode. During this time, you need to ask yourself the right questions to determine the most optimal route to take.

Answering these questions to the best of your ability will ensure that you have a clearer direction to take than you had when you started.


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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