At some point in their exercise life everyone wants to lose fat. Whether it is the impetus that drives you to the gym in the first place, or a desire to carve out the hard earned muscle, almost everyone makes an effort to ditch pounds of body fat.
For many, increasing exercise intensity and managing the basic framework of their diet (see: stop eating so much garbage) serves as an excellent jump start towards their goals. They often see decent fat loss, feel increased energy, and end up jolly about their progress.
Yet, almost always, that fat loss comes to a sudden halt. They haven't ditched their diet and are working out more often than ever...so what gives?
There are 3 simple mistakes that many people make that prevent them for continuing the fat loss process, which ultimately leaves them frustrated and angry.
No more angry. Just results.
Cue the mistakes:
1. Not reducing calories to reflect new weight
It is common practice to calculate how many calories one should be consuming when they first begin a journey to lose weight. Many people also go as far as calculating the exact amount of macronutrients they should be consuming in order to lose weight. A plethora of nutrition information and various calculators make all of this much easier than it used to be.
They initially take the time to determine how many grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fats they should eating. With consistent application they typically see the beginnings of the results they desire.
What happens though is that they often neglect the adjustment phase of weight loss. As a result they find themselves eating the same amount of calories although they are now 8 to 10 pounds lighter than they used to be.
So, that 200 pound guy who used to be 215 is still eating the amount of calories that a 215 pound person should be eating to lose weight. The same goes for the 135 pound girl who used to be 145.
You don't want to be overeating for your current body weight. Surely, you won't see fat loss. Worse case scenario is that you'd even see fat gain.
In the same breathe, you don't want to slash calories too dramatically in the beginning either. Starving yourself will stifle even the most genuine of fat loss efforts as your body struggle to power through your day on suboptimal energy. Your brain will think you are starving and cling on to body fat like a cat's claws on a couch during a thunderstorm.
Don't ever let go Jack!
How to Fix it: Be sure to calculate new numbers everytime you lose 10 pounds from the scale. You'll typically want to subtract calories from your carbohydrates while maintaining your protein intake and fat intake relative to your muscle weight. I recommend getting your body fat taken so that you know how much of your body is lean mass.
You want to ensure that you are losing fat mass and not the oh-so-valuable muscle.
2. Allowing too many "I earned this" meals
When dieting down the thought of a delicious meal that satisfies all one's cravings equates to winning the lottery, traveling the world, and routinely doing the pants-off-dance-off.
It's that amazing.
Only if you've earned though.
Often times after significant weight loss and success with a fitness program we find excuses to loosen the reigns on our diet. Statements like "I've earned this" or "I need the carbohydrates anyway" can create a snowball effect on our diets.
A delish sandwich for lunch leads to a glass of wine at dinner on a Thursday...and your best friend's dog's birthday on Saturday, so you have to party.....
Before you know it you've turned your "cheat meal" into a cheat weekend...which has done nothing but cheat you out of progress and long term success.
No beuno even if you do love taco Tuesday.
How to fix it: Maintain focus on your goals. Write them down and place them somewhere that you can't miss them in your life. Bathroom mirrors work great because you see them every morning and night. I also like putting something in my wallet near my credit card, so that I see it when I am buying lunch or dinner.
3. Not looking for ways to increase intensity during workouts
Our bodies are incredible machines. They are capable of adapting and becoming accustomed to even the toughtest of workouts. Those grueling days on the beach that break Navy SEAL hopefuls serve as warmups for veteran guys on the teams. That bootcamp that crushed you a few weeks ago will become easier over time if you stay persistant in your efforts.
The people who participate in my group class Superhuman know this truth.
The body encounters the repeated bout effect in which the impact from a stimulus is lessened over time due to the body having a proper defense in place. Whether it is stronger muscle and connective tissue, better cardiovascular health, or the ability to buffer lactic acid faster; the body will adapt to meet the demands that are placed upon it.
Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands (SAID Principle) is why marathon runners don't make great powerlifters, and you don't see many bodybuilders running triathalons. Their body isn't trained for the demands that would be placed upon it.
What does all this mean for you? How does this impact you continuing to lose body fat?
Simply put, you need to drive your workouts forward in their intensity. If you are used to doing 3 to 5 sets of exercises for every muscle in the body and then doing thirty minutes of cardio; it may be time to turn up the intensity.
There exists a myriad of methods for increasing intensity of a session. My personal favorites are increasing load (go heavier), increasing total volume, or incorporating supersets to boost workload in the body. You need to push yourself harder as you make progress.
How to Fix it: Recruit a friend in better shape, hire a trainer, do your own research on the internet. Find new ways to challenge your body and make sure that the body is still put into a bit of shock from your latest workout!
Fat loss at one time or another is everyone's goal. If you are going to commit yourself to the process of losing unwanted weight and body fat than it is crucial to understand that you will plateau at some point after your initial progress. Having simple strategies to help you navigate this period of time is critical to seeing continued success and not just being stuck in the mud.
Sure, there is a lot of hard science behind fat loss. There are advanced methods such as carbohydrate and calorie cycling, intermittent fasting, and nutrient timing. These things are imperative to seeing the highest tiers of success, but serve as way to taxing for most.
The key here is to find simple, easy to apply methods that can help you lose more body fat, and keep your pushing towards your ultimate goals!