If you are planning to lose weight anytime soon, don’t fear a diet misery, instead learn how to cut these five mistakes from your weight loss plan and make this the best cut yet.
Perhaps you wish to get everything out of a recent bulk or want to shed some unwanted pounds, if you have a specific number in mind then that is a great start!.
When you first start losing weight, fat not muscle through calorie control, exercise and lifestyle adjustments. Things usually start off pretty good. Excited about your journey, you have plenty of energy for days and start racking up great achievements like hitting a jackpot of some kind.
After a couple of weeks however one of these few things happens:
Weight loss does not have to be this hard, these are pretty common side effects of dieting too hard without thinking about long-term sustainability. Take out a notebook and save your weight loss journey, let’s identify these common mistakes to avoid.
Never has the ‘less is more’ approach applied so much as when dieting. From a straight calories-in and calories-out perspective, it is very easy to be mislead into thinking that more must be done to lose weight. This could mean more sets, more training sessions, more workout days or more exercise selections, the list could go on forever.
Training too much whilst in a caloric deficit is something that will get you in trouble quickly. When training for weight loss it is assumed you are already in a caloric deficit meaning your body is already stressed out from not enough calories for optimal function. When a large amount of stress like this is placed on the body, your ability recover between workouts and manage daily life stress becomes compromised.
When more is done like ramping up the intensity or frequency, volume or duration of the workout that you do, you compound the number of stresses your body has to endure. The odds of burning out and feeling miserable begin to multiply. This does matter because it is how a lot of people fall off the wagon and gain back all of the weight.
Do the minimal amount of work or ‘minimum effective dose’ of what is required to get the job done. You should lift around 3 times per week for 45 to 60 minutes per session. This doesn’t sound like a lot but during a weight loss phase the workout is just there to keep your muscles active and make them stick around with short, intense workouts. The rest of your time should be spent on rest and recovery which is already compromised by a caloric deficit.
Targeting specific body parts has long been practiced in bodybuilding circles. It makes sense to concentrate on under developed body parts. When eating in a caloric deficit, you do not take in enough calories for building muscle.
Isolation exercises taps into limited resources in an already taxed body. Without extra calories you can do curls, skull crushers and cable crunches for days and see very little noticeable gains, beginners or long-hiatus returners are exceptions to this rule.
Focus instead on total body movements that hit every muscle group nearly including pulls, pushes and squats.
Aim for 8-12 sets for compound movements for each session in the 6-12 rep range. Keep isolation stuff for muscle-building cycles. When cutting fat, focus on whole body training for maintaining current size and strength.
Cardio is usually in the line of fire for bad rep, but this normally because people do far too much of it. People focus far too much on ‘calories out’ within the laws of thermodynamics which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed.
Using that law, your fat-loss choices are: Consume fewer calories or burn more of them. A natural response is to consume less and burn more, this seems like the greatest calories out right?
This seems solid but don’t forget what we looked at from the first point, stressors. These need to be minimized to prevent burnout. Doing more cardio and activity causes a greater stress response.
Instead of increasing cardio, focus on your diet. This requires a bit of planning and thought. If you are already quite lean then cardio can be useful in ridding you of stubborn body fat and mobilizing free fatty acids. This does not apply to most folks however so extra cardio is not required for effective fat loss.
Cutting sucks, however you look at it. You must keep an eye on your food intake very closely, you will be hungry a lot of the time. But the results of a good cut are priceless, a good cut is one that spares muscle and eliminates fat.
Given how long it takes to get hard-earned muscle you should treat it as sacred. When cutting you should aim to preserve as much muscle as possible so don’t lower your calories too much or just cardio your way through it as most people do.
Aim for a mild caloric deficit of between 10 – 20% below your maintenance calorie level when starting your cut. There is usually no need to get fancy with things like carb backloading, ketogenesis or protein sparing modified fasts. Just get the proteins, carbs and fats necessary to do your training.
Bear in mind that the reading on the scale does not reflect what is happening with your body composition so do not obsess over getting a lower number. Use the scale with other measures like body fat, the mirror, your lifts and more to track your progress. Patience is a virtue!.
Eating clean foods whilst trying to lose fat does make sense. not for any of the magical fat-loss properties of whole foods but because they are both nutritionally dense and satiating. You will certainly feel fuller eating the same amount of carbs from potatoes than you would from say some Skittles.
All of these benefits can backfire if your diet is too restrictive, especially if cutting is done over a long period of time like a few months.
As the world-famous nutritionist Alan Aragon once said ‘Your diet should consist of 80% whole foods you enjoy, 10% whole foods you dislike but know are good for you and 10% junk food goodness’.
How you integrate that junky goodness is up to you, whether that is a big pizza on Saturday night or spaced out throughout the week with a few cookies after dinner each night, just use your 10% wisely to minimise cravings and maintain diet sanity.
Heavy food restriction is a sign of an unhealthy food relationship and can lead to strong bingeing episodes which can ruin progress and damage morale.
With this simple advice above you should be ready to embark on and complete your weight loss journey, lose weight properly without anymore setbacks.
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