When it comes to weight loss there is a vast variety of advice out there and a market that is oversaturated with quick fixes and fad diets can overwhelm those who are wanting to get themselves into shape and reduce body fat.
The below will discuss some of the common mistakes and the importance of ensuring factors like diet and exercise are helping and not hindering your goals.
1. Eating too little calories
Your body is smart when it comes to how it utilises energy. Every person will have a BMR which is the energy your body burns at rest. Eating too little essentially triggers your body into becoming more efficient in how it utilises its energy stores.
Think of food as fuel. You must fuel your body to accommodate for the amount of energy you are burning throughout the day depending on how active you may be.
When not given enough, it will likely take the energy from your muscle tissue as muscle is calorically expensive, which when your goal is to reduce body fat % this is of course the exact opposite of what you want to happen.
But how many calories do you need?
This will vary from person to person. A great way to find out your calorie target based on your goals is to firstly get a body composition scan which will tell you your BMR, fat % and muscle mass. Then your personal trainer can assess based on your goals, how much you need to be eating including the ideal amount of protein, fat and carbs.
2. All in on cardio / no resistance training
Now by no means are we saying that cardio is bad and you need to pick one or the other, in fact both have a range of health benefits for you and can be super effective if you combine both cardio and resistance training in the right volume.
The common mistake many make is they go all in on cardio thinking it will burn the most amount of calories and leave little or no time for resistance and strength training. This is partially due to the way fitness is marketed to women in particular combined with the myth that women who lift weights will become ‘bulky’.
Yes, cardio will burn a lot of calories in the beginning and you may see weight loss, but then it will often come to a grinding halt. This is because as mentioned earlier, your body is efficient at adapting and so overtime your body will learn to burn less during activity and when sedentary, holding on to body fat to make you better at storing calories.
Resistance training will help you build muscle which will increase your BMR, aid in healthy fat loss and is a form of training that can be progressed in difficulty or intensity as your body adapts to the exercises.
If you love cardio then great! Couple that with some resistance or strength training 2-3x per week and you may find yourself fitter, stronger and closer to hitting those fat loss goals.
3. Focusing on scales
This is something we all get caught up in but is something that gives you the least amount of information when it comes to your body composition/overall health. Yes, overtime if you’re on a ‘cut’ then you want to see the scale trending downwards, however muscle is a high commodity and as you build more muscle mass your scale weight may not change too much but your overall body composition may be much healthier with a lower body fat percentage overall and a higher muscle mass, which in the long term is integral for protecting your joints and minimising any risk of injury.
It’s important to not let the scales dictate how you feel overall. You can also use items of clothing as an indication of progress. For example, Do you have a pair of pants that were always a little tight or didn't look as good on? But NOW they fit better and you’re much happier with how they look on you and you’re ready for a night on the town flaunting your confidence! No number on a scale can give you that same tangibility.
Keep in mind that especially for females, weight will often fluctuate a few kilograms depending on the stage of your menstrual cycle as well as any extra water retention that may be occurring. So remember, don't beat yourself up if the scales aren't reflecting your hard work, keep on track with regular resistance training, go on walks (aim for 10k steps per day) and make good choices when it comes to your food and the results will follow.
You’ve got this!!