5 Huge Mistakes Dieters Make and How to Fix Them
Are you skinny? Fat? Skinny fat? No, that is a real Internet thing, I swear!
Whatever your current disposition, you may have tried dieting, hoping that it would cure your current body issues. The result> You found out that diets are harder than you thought.
Maybe you saw a little bit of progress, but then hit a wall. Your efforts stalled. Whether you tried to lose fat, gain muscle or work towards the mythical “body recomp,” chances are good that, like many before you, some stumbling blocks were encountered.
To get you on track, here are five huge mistakes dieters make and how to fix them today.
5 Common Dieting Mistakes and How to Fix Them
Mistake #1 – Setting your calories too high or too low for your goals
PROBLEM: Want to grow muscle? Eat everything in sight! Ready to get ripped? Stop eating and lose tons of bodyfat!
SOLUTION: The truth is that your body is limited like everyone else (aside from those using drugs) to a set rate of muscle growth and fat loss. At a certain point you store excess calories as fat and stop burning fat only to eat into the gains you achieved with your mass gaining phase.
Use online tools to calculate your total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) to a reasonable level and try to fluctuate your daily calories by only 10-20% over or under this number. By doing so you will ensure you avoid getting overly fat, and avoid the damage that comes with a drastic fat loss regimen. You will also make your life much easier.
Mistake #2 – Overeating and undereating protein when bulking and cutting respectively
PROBLEM: You eat an absolutely excessive amount of protein when gaining weight, and too little while losing.
SOLUTION: To many it seems common sense to eat as much as as 2-3g of protein per lb of bodyweight while gaining mass. If muscle is made of protein, more protein makes more muscle. On a diet, many keep protein at only 1g per lb of of bodyweight and focus on carbohydrates and fat in the diet.
Remember that the body can only store so many amino acids in the bloodstream, and protein itself is broken down into amino acids. Additionally, when carbohydrates and calories are high (as in during a mass gaining phase), you will see less need for higher protein levels. 1g per lb of bodyweight is sufficient in most cases, so long as fat and carbohydrates are set properly.
Inversely, when cutting and reducing carbohydrates, protein levels should be raised to upwards of 1.5g/lb of bodyweight in order to prevent the body’s lean mass from being broken down into glucose and used by the body.
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Mistake #3 – Impatient dieters, because you demand satisfaction!
PROBLEM: Expecting immediate results and changing course prematurely.
We all want to believe we can “get ripped in 4 weeks,” as many an online article has promised. But realistically, the time it takes to get shredded will vary. If you ate like a prized pig for years, prepare for a tough but rewarding battle.
SOLUTION: As a rule of thumb, expect around two weeks before you see changes in the mirror, and four to six weeks for others to see changes. If you give yourself up to the reality that you will need time to see results, you will stay patient and not panic when after that fourth week you haven’t dropped from a size 38 pant to a 30.
Mistake #4 – Calling a specific macronutrient “bad”
PROBLEM: You avoid all types of a specific macronutrient because you think it’s “bad” for your diet.
It’s fine to do a low carbohydrate diet if you tend to overeat carbs, or cut fats if they leave you feeling full after you scarf them down, but calling a specific macronutrient “bad” is just, well, bad.
SOLUTION: Learn what works for your body but realize that the equation of weight gain and weight loss always comes back to “calories in vs calories out.” You will get the same general results if your calories are set and you manipulate specific macronutrient values.
Currently, the trend in mainstream fitness is to vilify carbohydrates. In the past fat was the enemy and nearly everyone tried a lower fat diet.
Demonizing a specific type of macronutrient leads to problems later in life when you may require carbs for weight gain or fat for a ketogenic diet. Be versatile and reasonable with your diet. Stay in realistic moderation and remember that mantra of “calories in vs calories out.”
Mistake #5 – Trying to exercise yourself thin
PROBLEM: You attempt to exercise yourself skinny, because counting calories is no fun. It’s easy to just jump on that treadmill.
SOLUTION: Possibly the most common error anyone new to dieting can make. I see people who are experienced dieters doing hours of cardio each day and wondering when the fat loss results will come.
The chances are good that you are not burning the calories you think from the treadmill, and that you are also overeating at the same time. Most people overestimate the calories burned during exercise and underestimate the amount of food they are eating. This is a combination that will spell disaster.
Unless you’ve been tracking your food obsessively for years and have an excellent idea of what sixty minutes on a treadmill really means to you, you will be spinning your wheels (or feet in this case) as you attempt to displace proper diet with exercise.
Track your food, keep up your treadmill work, but rely on your diet to bring the bulk of your body weight changes. You will see progress like you’ve never imagined.
I am certain there are dozens more mistakes people make when dieting for fat loss or muscle gain, but these were a few sticking in my head this week.
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make? What have you done in the past that you now know better and will not repeat?
Sound off in the comments and until next time, be excellent out there in whatever you do.