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These are the top common mistakes that I see many people making when trying to lose weight. They exercise, diet, and think that they are doing everything right when everything they are doing couldn’t be further from the truth. This article runs through the ten most common mistakes that lead to weight loss failure. To explain to such a level that I deemed important I had to write a pretty lengthy article. If you have the time to read it now it will be well worth your while. If not bookmark the page and save it for later.
1. You don't eat enough fat
You may be a little perplexed at the moment but let me explain. Our bodies need fat to function and thrive. Getting enough fat is not only healthy for you but necessary for survival. Our bodies are wired in a way that when we don’t get enough fat in our diets, it begins to follow certain protocols. Your body will actually start to store fat more easily because it doesn’t have a constant flow of fat coming in! This can be linked back to our ancestors long ago. They had to hunt for food and a lot of times were unsuccessful at landing a meal. Our bodies had to adapt for these periods of starvation. In order to survive we had to have fat stored for energy, fuel, and heat. Without this adaptation it is likely we wouldn’t be here today, so do not scorn your body. Instead embrace this fact and begin your new diet full of healthy and tasty dietary fats.
Some of you may be rejoicing already planning your next trip to Mcdonalds for a couple Big Macs as fats are now allowed in your diet. I strongly suggest you don’t take this approach as it will only lead to a bigger weight gain than what you may already be experiencing. This is because of the type of fats you are consuming. Big Macs and all other obvious junk foods are full of the bad saturated fats that will only cause abundant weight gain. You want the healthy dietary fats found in such foods as almonds, guacamole, salmon, and olive oil.
2. You avoid eating carbohydrates
A lot of fad diets out there will take this poor approach to weight loss. Can these diets cause weight loss? Sure, as long as you don’t mind the harmful effects and damage it will have on your body. Without carbohydrates we would be cranky, have no energy, and even not be able to think clearly. This is because carbohydrates are your bodies’ primary source of everyday energy. Not getting carbohydrates into your diet will only cause more harm to your body than good and can lead to easier susceptibility to illness and injury. Another very destructive side effect will be that you will get the worst cravings for carbohydrates you have ever had. This is our bodies’ way of telling us we are not getting enough of them. What does this lead to? Inevitably to binge eating which will cause weight gain and ruin your fitness goals. I also do not suggest you turn to eat a ton of carbs for fear of these side effects. The correct answer is a healthy medium of the two approaches. Depending on your body weight, height, activity level, etc., your personal healthy carbohydrate needs are different than anyone else’s. For more information on this topic, look into the Nutrition Guide under the ‘carbohydrates’ section.
3. You work out too much
Yes, working out excessively will do the exact opposite to what you want to do. This is ties in to reason number one because as we begin to lose huge amounts of calories, our bodies will begin to hold onto what it has with a vengeance. What does this mean for you? Your workout would have to be unrealistically intense to get rid of that extra layer of pudge that you just can’t seem to get rid of.
Your body will also begin to search for a new source of fuel once your calorie expenditure rises to high. It will literally start to use your own body as fuel; it will begin to eat itself. I can just imagine the look on most of your faces as you read that last line. Yes, I repeat, your body will begin to break itself down as a source of energy to meet the demands you are placing on it. So what part exactly does it “eat”?
Your body will begin to metabolize your precious muscle that you so diligently worked for. Muscle is important because as the amount of muscle you have increases, so will your fat burning capabilities (a.k.a. your metabolism) as well. When your muscles get broken down so will your metabolism and you absolutely do not want this. Again like previously stated in this article, your cravings will be unreal and ultimately lead to unhealthy, weight gaining, binge eating.
4. You have a stressful lifestyle
This might not come as a surprise to many of you as many advertising companies feed off this fact. So are they correct? They sure are. Most of them focus on the hormone called, “cortisol”. This is a hormone released when you are stressed that causes your body to store fat. Your pituitary gland releases a hormone called "adrenocorticotropic hormone" and this activates your adrenal glands to release cortisol. Why this happens can take up several articles alone, so for simplicities sake just realize one of its effects is to store predominately abdominal fat.
Well stress may be a natural part of life to many of you. Stress is part of everyone’s life at one point or another and must be managed one step at a time. I don’t expect you to lead a careless life in hopes to decrease cortisol release. That is unrealistic and will lead to bigger life problems. What I do suggest is that you take time to think about what really stresses you out. Is it your kids? How about your job? Whatever the reason try to reduce the impact these stresses have on your life. Take one night a week off by leaving your kids with the baby sitter, you deserve it. Another way to combat stress is to exercise! Hitting two birds with one stone in your quest to lose weight! So reflect on your biggest stresses and reduce the effect they have on you. Try to eventually eliminate them altogether.
5. You work out at the “fat-burning” level
Many exercise routines call for cardiovascular work to be done at this fat burning level or zone. This typically 40-60% of your max heart rate, depending on the source. So basically these programs have you doing cardiovascular exercise at this lower intensity level at hopes of burning just fat. Well I have to tell you this is entirely true. Yes you will burn primarily fat in this zone but guess what would be more effective at fat loss? Exercising at a higher intensity than this fat burning zone will be a more effective method at burning overall calories.
When I say higher I mean about 60-85% of your max heart rate. So say your 25 years old you would use the easy formula (not the most precise but it works) HR MAX= 220-AGE. So in this case the MAX HR would be 195 BPM (beats per minute). So multiply this number by any number between 60-85% and this is your “carbohydrate burning zone”. In this case this individual would work out anywhere from 117- 166 BPM depending on how much improvement they wanted to see. Wait a minute. Did he just say, “Carbohydrate zone?”
Yes that was no typo and let me explain why. When you exercise at this higher intensity you enter a different fuel source system that your body uses, carbohydrates. At this higher intensity you will burn more overall calories, but not as much fat. Brace yourself, I’m now going to share with you the secret to losing weight. Are you ready? Weight loss = calories eaten < calories expended.
6. Incorrect meal timing
To complement that last reason for gaining weight I will explain why meal timing is important. When you eat you increase your metabolism, plain and simple. So how about keeping that metabolism going 24/7? I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty good to me. As an example we will use two identical people with the exact same diet and see how their meal timing affects their metabolism.
Person #1 will eat three big meals. Person #2 will eat 6 smaller meals but exactly equal to the amount of food person #1 is eating (same amount of calories a day). Who will boost their metabolism and thus burn more calories? The answer is person #2.
A good way to explain this is an analogy of a fireplace. When you want heat you throw a log in. Say you throw all your logs in at once, what happens? You get a huge surge in heat and then it quickly dies out with no more logs to keep it burning. See what I’m getting at? Throw one or two logs at 3-4 hour increments and you will turn your body into a calorie burning machine all day, all night.
7. You don't eat the right fats
As briefly touched on earlier, eating the right fats can have everything to do with losing the weight. There are a few bad fats you should be aware of. These are saturated fats and trans fats which should be avoided at all cost.
Basically trans fats are bad for you because of the “hydrogenation” that occur in making these fats. Manufactures love this kind of fat because it gives food a longer shelf life which can ultimately lead them to making big money.
Examples of foods filled with trans fats are fast food burgers, fries, and many commercially packaged food. Basically anything that you don’t think would be naturally found in nature will contain some level of trans fats. Just don’t buy or eat the ones with a lot of trans fat.
The other kind of fat to avoid is saturated fats and can be found in such products as egg yolks, seafood, dairy, and meat. Many of these groups of food can actually be healthy for you, but at the same time, be your worst enemy. The key is to eat in moderation and modify these products. For instance don’t eat 4 whole eggs. Maybe start with putting 1 whole egg and 3 egg whites. This can lead you to reap the benefits of the healthy nature of the product and avoid the bad.
So what are the good fats? These are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. A good way to look for these kinds of fats in your local grocery store is to seek foods that would occur naturally in nature with little processing. Some foods include walnuts, almonds, avocado, canola and olive oil. Seafood such as salmon, fish oil, corn oil, and soy oil are also full of good fats. Think to yourself: "Would I find these growing naturally on a tree or plant or in a factory?"
8. You count calories
While this may not seem logical in a sense, counting calories can lead to negative result despite the good intent. When people become over obsessed with counting calories they often check labels over and over. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and most importantly underestimation. When counting calories it is often impractical to actually add up every calorie because a lot of foods would require you to weigh or portion exactly to their serving sizes. That would be an exhausting amount of work day in and day out. So people often try to figure out how much they have eaten by “guesstimating” how many ounces of meat they have in their sandwich for instance.
People will most likely underestimate how much they are eating and therefore will lead to excess calories every day. This will lead to weight gain and the only way this process will actually work for you is to count, weigh, measure, and portion every single thing you put into your body. This is impossible unless you are a fitness star or professional athlete who can afford such a dietitian to do that for them.
So what is my recommendation if this is impractical? I suggest you spend less time counting calories and more time becoming familiar with portion control. A simple way to measure this is to ball your hand up into a fist. This is 1 portion of whatever food you are eating. It can be a portion of carbohydrates, a portion of protein, fruit, or vegetable. The next thing you need to know is how much portions of each you need in a day. Remember those food pyramid things that came out a while back? Those can be a great guide. You can look at one here.
9. You eat at the wrong time
Everyone is guilty of this one at some point in their lives. Getting a late night snack can be a great way to gain weight if that is your goal. Some individuals and pro bodybuilders actually benefit from eating at regular intervals throughout the night. But we are not all pro bodybuilders and thus do not follow their crazy schedules. Eating before bed can also be a powerful way to increase muscle mass but for the majority of people who just want to lose weight this can be disastrous.
If weight loss is your primary goal than getting your last main meal 2-3 hours prior to sleep is key. It is perfectly fine to get in a small amount of certain foods within the last hour before food as a means to preserve muscle without gaining weight. You want casein protein containing foods in this case such as skim milk or cottage cheese. Casein protein is released into your system throughout the night over the course of hours rather than minutes as other proteins can do. This is essential to prevent catabolic muscle breakdown throughout the night and maintaining your metabolism (a whole other article on its own).
For the majority of people who are concerned more so with weight loss and not trying to make life complicated with preserving every bit of muscle into I would recommend avoiding eating fat or carbohydrate filled foods the last couple of hours before bed. It is unlikely you will burn this off in such a short time and when you sleep your energy requirements comes to a halt so your body will store these calories as fat. Eat a simple protein snack if anything before bed if you just cannot wait till morning. This is a good way to prevent weight gain and promote fat burning.
10. Not taking advantage of supplements
On average you would not see this most ‘ways to prevent weight gain articles’ but I believe this topic deserves our attention. Many time people will follow every piece of advice anyone could possibly give them and yet they struggle with weight loss. I recommend weight loss supplements to those people who just can’t seem to lose the couple of pounds or to those who want to use these supplements as aids to help to lose weight rapidly, for a birthday, wedding, etc. When I say as an “aid” I mean exactly that. All too often I see people abuse supplements like they are supposed to be some magical elixir that will make them skinny overnight. It does not work this way and you must work hard to lose weight for the supplements to properly work.
Most weight loss supplements or fat burners are often composed of stimulants such as caffeine. This is how they work; they rev up your metabolism so you burn more fat throughout the day. What people may not realize is that you won’t see result unless you workout and diet as well. What’s the use of burning more calories if you’re just replacing them with poor food choices? I have below a product I strongly recommend to anyone who fits this category of people who should see what supplements can do for them. I have seen it work on several of my friends and have used it myself with nice results. I don’t recommend supplements if you are just starting to exercise however, as your potential to burn fat hasn’t even been assessed yet. You may not even need supplements to reach the level of your personal goals. But if you workout, diet, and can’t seem to lose that extra bit of weight, give supplements a shot.
There you have it, the top 10 reasons you may be gaining weight. Follow the guidelines placed here and you are sure to lose those extra pounds you have always wanted to.
Still Gaining Weight?: Top 10 Reasons