Dropping body fat, shredding, releasing weight or toning up – whatever you like to call it, fat loss is one of the most popular motivations for many people starting a new eating regimen or gym program.
Through my own experience with fat loss, and the experience with my clients, I’ve found that more often than not the same mistakes pop up over and over again.
So here are the 3 biggest mistakes made when dropping body fat
Adding extra cardio in from the start
Let’s start with the biggest contributor to stalled fat loss early on. At first, all is going well, there’s a solid 45-minute extra cardio session each day and the weight is coming off nicely. Then when a plateau hits, and it will hit there’s nowhere to go… Adding more cardio starts to eat up valuable time and then there’s less recovery time. Don’t add extra cardio until you absolutely must, in other words, wait until you’re really stalling.
Dropping your food intake too low
The absolute key to getting down to the body fat levels most people want is to gradually reduce their calories over a longer period of time. There are two reasons why dropping them substantially doesn’t work. Just like my first point, when you stall, you can’t just keep dropping your food intake. This affects recovery and can reduce your metabolic rate making it harder to lose body fat. Secondly, a gradual drop over time preserves muscle, fuels your body to train hard and helps keep your metabolic rate high.
Not appreciating the work it takes to get lean
When I talk about lean I’m talking <10% for males and <18% for females. Getting to these levels takes a serious commitment. Over the years of coaching, I have noticed that most people are including weekly “cheat meals”, alcohol and skipping exercise days. There’s a clear difference between their expectations and understanding of what it takes to reach their goals. On top of this, our mind tends to justify our behaviour and we often aren’t honest with ourselves when reporting our intake.
If you don’t feel like putting in all that work, it is absolutely fine. Our views on fitness are to still be able to enjoy social occasions whilst making smart choices. Saying that you can still have a very fit physique by following these rules 90% of the time:
- Eat slowly until satisfied for 95% of your meals
- Include 1-2 palm size serves of protein, 1-2 fists of fibrous veggies and 1-2 thumbs of fats per meal.
- Limit carbs to post workout or “reefed days”
- Limit desserts and caloric drinks to every 1-2 weeks
- Exercise/move daily – 4-5 sessions a week should be high intensity/heavy