Losing body fat can be tricky.
One minute you’re burning fat like a champ and the next you’re stuck in a rut.
You feel frustrated, hopeless, and confused about what to do next. You may start to think that you aren’t cut out to get lean. Or maybe there's some sort of government cover-up keeping you from knowing the real secrets to losing fat.
I like to think more “big picture” without getting tangled in the weeds. Maybe you need to look at the basics of what you’re doing and start over from there. Simple concepts that aren’t that secretive after all.
The secret is that there is no secret. You need results, not tricks.
Here are 11 ways you could be screwing up your fat loss efforts. No complicated explanations here, just simple practices you may be violating.
1. Not Training Enough
If you are training 2 or 3 days per week you are simply not training enough. For serious fat torching to occur you must train most days of the week – preferably 4 or 5 days.
Giving your metabolism a jolt most days of the week will keep the fat furnace burning and will enable you to eat the proper amounts of food without starving yourself. A short cardio session 2 or 3 times per week isn’t enough effort to change your physique when it can easily adapt to such a minimal amount of exercise.
2. Not Enough Protein
You’ve most likely heard this phrase before: Focus on protein. And it's not just for building muscle. Protein serves to keep you fuller (satiated) longer, which will prevent you from overeating, strengthen your immune system, and keep your metabolism in check.
Be sure to take in plenty of Greek yogurt, fish, chicken, turkey, lean meat, whey protein, and eggs with each meal. When you are eating enough protein you won’t be tempted to eat more sugary, physique-destroying foods.
3. Not Training Correctly
If you think high rep training is more conducive to burning fat it may be time to shift your thinking. Having more muscle burns more fat, and compound lifts build more muscle. Think of your muscle tissue as big fat-burning organs. The more you lift, the leaner you will get. Of course this along with a sound diet and some cardio. Stick to the big lifts such as bench presses, squats, pull-ups, rows, and shoulder presses.
4. Too Much Cardio
A little cardio is a great thing. It improves heart health, stokes the metabolism, and increases circulation. But for those of you out there who seem to live on a cardio machine I just have one suggestion: stop.
Like I said, cardio is a good thing, but too much will hinder your progress, leaving you depleted and defeated. Focus on a balance of resistance training, diet, and cardio, and you will have better results. Furthermore, try some high intensity interval cardio for a shorter, more brutal fat-attack.
5. Not Eating Enough
Another misconception is that you have to starve yourself to lose the unwanted pounds. Yes, calorie deficits are sometimes necessary, but too little food will slow your metabolism and bring fat loss to a screeching halt. Make sure you're eating the right amount of calories for your goals.
Once you get too low in calories, your hormones react and cause adverse effects. Namely conserving calories and storing them as fat. Eat a balanced diet, cut out the junk, and keep your metabolism in check.
6. Eating Too Clean
Another misstep is eating too clean. Yes, it's good to eat a healthy diet full of lean meats, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats. But eating too strictly will lead to a fat burning plateau. It’s the same concept as eating too little. You can drastically reduce your overall calorie intake by avoiding sugars, saturated fats, and eliminating other forms of starches. This may lead to not eating enough.
Have a cheat day or a cheat meal once in a while to not only rev up your metabolism, but also to have something to look forward to during all this dieting.
7. Training Too Much
Yes, on the surface this sounds like a contradiction to #1, but hear me out. You may be training too much. How, you say? More cardio, more weight training, more hours, more days per week. It will all come crashing down one day.
What to do? Moderation is key. As stated before, moderating your diet, training, and cardio (and don’t forget about rest/sleep) is the best approach. When making adjustments, just make one at a time to see what's working.
8. Riding a Diet Carousel
Do you feel like you’ve been dieting forever? Do you feel like you’re just spinning your wheels? Maybe you just keep reducing calories over and over again hoping to get it right? It’s time to stop and regroup. Wipe the slate clean and start over.
Begin with a simple, balanced diet full of the good stuff I mentioned earlier. Just eat healthy, cut out the junk, and establish positive habits. Stop “dieting” for once and just eat the right way – no extremes, no gimmicks.
9. Switching Diet Plans Too Often
Are you a diet hopper? Do you switch from one diet to the next every few weeks only to become disappointed? Here’s a quick tip: Pick a diet, but make sure it’s healthy. Next, stick with it for a significant period of time and make small adjustments along the way. The only way you will know if something is working or not is to give it ample time.
10. Not Manipulating Calories
Eating the same things and consuming the same amount of calories day in and day out will eventually steer you into a rut. You see, the body is extremely adaptive and efficient. It will gradually start to stall your fat loss efforts and end your run at leaning up.
This is the perfect time to fluctuate calories, namely carbohydrates. You can simply have a specific amount of carbs on training days and then lower the amounts on non-training days. This way you break up the monotony and start getting results once again.
11. Not Eating Fat
You need fat. Pure and simple. Why? Fat helps regulate hormone levels, helps with energy production, and aids in metabolic maintenance. It also plays a huge role in satiety keeping you fuller longer along with ample protein intake.
Shoot for healthy sources such as avocado, nut butters, all types of nuts, olive oils, and fish oil. Ridding your diet entirely of fat isn’t the wisest thing to do as it is one of the most important macronutrients around. Gone are the no-fat diet days. Seek balance.