- If you’re not losing weight, you are not in a calorie deficit
- There are no magical diets
- Be honest with yourself
Have you ever been dieting and not losing weight in a calorie deficit?
Are you doing everything and not losing weight when you exercise despite crushing your workouts?
Are not losing weight on Intermittent Fasting?
Of course you have, we’ve all been there. And if you haven’t why the hell would you be reading this article?
When it comes to dieting there’s a few big mistakes I see being repeated.
So here’s a breakdown of the mistakes and how to fix them.
Let’s get it.
No Magical Diet
When I realized nutrition was a big portion of losing weight I started Googling every diet I could.
At the time going low carb and carb cycling were the big ones.
But one thing that really aggravated me, well beside the lack of results, is no article told me the most important point. They were too busy shilling their magical diet that would incinerate my belly fat.
And that important point is…
When it comes to losing weight, there is only one thing that matters…calories. If you aren’t eating less than you need, you will not lose weight.
The famous calorie deficit.
How you get to this calorie deficit is completely up to you.
Keto reduces calories by removing all carbs.
Intermittent Fasting reduces calories by limiting the time you have to eat.
Tracking calories reduces calories because you have an actual number you can see and reduce.
Shakeology works because instead of a 500 calorie meal for lunch you’re drinking an expensive 200 calorie protein shake.
The approach I like to take with new online coaching clients is to take what they are eating and just reduce it slightly while tracking calories. This increases adherence and weight is lost. It’s a win-win. Then we work on adding more protein, reducing fats and adding more fruits and veggies.
All of these methods work as long as you are in a calorie deficit.
No diet is magical and triggers your body to burn more fat. That’s a cheap marketing ploy to make you buy their diet.
The main thing to focus on is the consistency of a calorie deficit. If a diet looks like it is something you can stick to for 3-6 months then go for it. If not, skip it you’ll get better results somewhere else.
Too Many Biohacking Tips and Tricks
Back in the early 2000’s I would fall for every well placed fat loss ad in Muscle & Fitness and Men’s Health. I had struggled like hell to get abs so college girls would wanna sleep with me.
And as you might guess beer and spaghetti don’t exactly make getting abs easy. I had no foundation of dieting. I was just trying pills, powders, and half assed biohacking tips to lose weight and get abs.
Tips, tricks and hacks are sexy and they feel good.
They give you that nice dose of hopium.
The last time you read some dieting tip on T-Nation you prob thought “Yes, this is why I never saw my abs. This was the missing piece!”
Hell I know I did.
But the truth is tips, tricks and hacks only work on a solid foundation of the basics. And in the case of dieting, that’s a calorie deficit that you can stick to.
When you try to out trick or out hack a subpar foundation you end up spending way more money and time than if you just stuck to the basics and executed them well.
Once you find your fat loss diet and have executed it consistently for a period of time then if you want to get your dick hard by throwing in some tips and tricks be my guest. But trying to biohack your way to getting lean is more complexity and crap you don’t need right away.
Overestimating Workout Calories
If you look in your MyFitnessPal, at the top you’ll see Goal Calories – Food + Exercise Calories = Remaining.
The Exercise calories estimation is just that… an estimation. There’s no telling accurately how many calories you burn on a given day unless you were in a lab.
Yes, even the cardio machines are lying to you.
And if those calories are over exaggerated over a period of time it can lead to stalled weight loss.
So, I’d skip it and just aim for the Goal Calories.
During a fat loss period, your workouts should be programmed to keep the strength and muscle you currently have, not for fat loss. So really being concerned with how many calories you burn during a workout is a complete waste of time. Your time would be better served staring at a wall.
You get fat loss through your diet, or the Goal Calories. Anything you burn on top of that through walking around or through your workout is gravy. Fat loss gravy that is.
Eating Based on Hunger
I recently took two weeks off from a bulk to let my body rest a little.
The first lower body workout upon coming back increased my hunger for the next two days. No matter what I ate I was still starving after.
Why is that?
When you increase exercise you also tend to increase appetite due to the need for more energy and repairing sore muscles. In my case, my quads were a-screamin’.
Now if you’re just eating based on hunger this can add hundreds of extra calories to your daily intake.
Hunger on a diet is OK and a good thing. It’s your body telling you that it’s not getting enough food and it’s going to start tapping into your fat store if you don’t feed it….which is EXACTLY what we want it to do.
So in these two days where I was more hungry than normal, I burned more calories. This is the (in)famous Exercise Post Oxygen Consumption aka EPOC aka the Afterburn Effect. By eating more in the days following that workout I would have lost out on all this sweet extra calorie burn.
The second thing wrong with eating based on a feeling…is just that, it’s a feeling.
Like your mood swings during a football game, your hunger feelings fluctuate considerably throughout the day. The FIRST thing you need to master is knowing when you are actually hungry.
Sounds stupid so let me explain.
Scenario 1: You haven’t eaten in hours because you’re busy at work and you notice your stomach growling. You wait for 10 mins to see if it’s actually hunger and it is. You are hungry.
Scenario 2: You just finished a meal and you top it off with watching some TV. You get bored and feel like snacking on something. You think you’re hungry because you want to eat even though you finished eating 30 mins ago. This is not hunger.
You can see how this gets so dangerous right?
This is where tracking calories comes up huge. You know how much you’re eating so you aren’t pissing away your sweet fat loss by using something so subjective as a feeling. And you have to be honest with it, because when you aren’t you’re literally only fuckin’ yourself outta results.
Weekends are Fudging Things Up
I’m a big fan of Jocko Willink. If you’ve never heard of him he’s an former Navy Seal with the slogan:
Discipline = Freedom
On the face of it, this goes against the grain a little. But let me explain why this is important…
I’ma bet you’re pretty damn good diet wise Monday -Thursday. Why is that?
It’s probably because you have structure. Get up. Go to work. Cook dinner. Watch TV, touch yourself, and go to bed. Rinse and repeat.
Weekends are kinda a free-for-all. Most of the time you’re at the mercy of kids activities and going out on Saturday night. This means eating out more and prob alcohol.
Having discipline and structuring a plan make dieting a hell of a lot easier. And I’m not talking about discipline as in removing all the foods you enjoy from your life.
Here’s a plan to both enjoy your weekend and not have to restart again Monday.
Friday Lunch- Eat your normal prepared lunch. Protein and veggies.
Friday Dinner – Normal “during the week” dinner. If you do go out, limit the alcohol and keep calories in check.
Saturday Lunch- Push your first meal back to noon. This meal should be protein and veggies.
Saturday Dinner – Enjoy yourself.
Sunday – Same as Saturday Lunch.
Sunday Dinner – Enjoy dinner with the fam.
Monday – Back on track.
When it comes to social events like weddings, guys weekends, or ya just have a lot of shit to do, this is the plan I recommend to my clients.
Saving calories for the meals where you’re with other people allows you to enjoy your life without being shackled by your diet.
A little discipline goes a long way to giving you freedom in certain instances. Give yourself a structure to be disciplined in certain instances so that you can have freedom in others all while staying on track with your goal.
A little preparation goes a long way. Would you go outside in a zombie apocalypse without a weapon. Unless you had a death wise I doubt it.
Likewise, don’t go into the weekend without at least a high level plan to help making sticking to your diet easier.
Overdoing the “Healthy Foods”
How many times have you bought something because the packaging said one of the healthy buzzwords?
Or my fav…Superfood
And despite all these buzzwords that make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you don’t lose weight.
It’s frustrating AF, right?
Most of the time these healthy foods are just glorified junk food. They’ll take out the good fat in peanut butter, substitute in some sugar and boom “REDUCED FAT JIFFY”.
With it being marketed as “Healthy Foods” it gives you this HALO EFFECT to either eat a lot of it, because, well they are healthy, or splurge in a different area because “You ate healthy today”.
Both of which are not good for your waistline because at the end of the day you’re still eating more than you need.
To lose weight you need to reduce calories. As we’ve seen in the past, you don’t need to eat healthy to lose weight, ahem **Twinkie Diet**.
Eating healthy is a good goal and something to work towards but to start off, focus on calories first.
That’s because eating healthy doesn’t mean eating in a caloric deficit. A caloric deficit is what you need to lose weight. That’s why you see stories of some dickhead eating Twinkies and KFC and STILL losing weight.
What eating healthy does is provide your body with the nutrients it needs to work better and recover. Two very important things to have, especially if you’re gettin’ after it in the gym.