Have you been trying to lose weight but find you have been struggling to make any progress or maybe noticed a stall?
In this article, I have addressed five areas that I think hold a lot of people back from achieving their weight loss goals.
1.) Portion Distortion
We are really bad at estimating how many calories we consume. Like really bad. We massively underestimate how many calories we eat on a daily basis.
The UK’s Office for National statistics took more than 4,000 people and tracked what they ate for four days. Men reported consuming an average 2,065 calories a day, but were estimated to actually consume 3,119; while women reported 1,570 but actually consumed 2,393.
You see from the above, its not like we are just a little bit off, we are wayyyy off!!!!
In my opinion this is a big reason why so many people have trouble losing weight. They think they’re eating ‘X’ amount but in reality they are consuming a lot more without even realizing it.
You take an average meal that you think is 400 calories.
But it’s actually 550 calories.
150 calories more. Times this by 3 meals per day.
450 extra calories per day.
3,150 extra calories per week.
There’s approx 3,500 calories in a pound of fat.
If you’re trying to lose one pound of fat per week, there’s your problem!
2.) Serving Sizes
Did you know that’s what 20g of peanut butter actually looks like?
Who actually eats a 30g serving of cereal?!
This is something I come across a lot with people especially the ones who ‘eat healthy’ but can’t seem to lose weight.
Eating healthy and eating to lose weight are not the same thing.
Studies show that people will calorically overeat foods they believe to be healthy by 30%.
You will only lose weight by creating a calorie deficit, not by eating healthy foods.
I don’t want you to take away from this that you don’t have to eat healthy foods or shouldn’t be eating healthy!
I recommend that the majority of your food comes from wholesome, nutrient dense food (80/90%) but if you want to lose weight it must be within a calorie controlled diet.
You don’t have to track calories but you must be aware that over time it will determine whether or not you lose weight.
If you eat more than you require on a daily basis it doesn’t matter if it’s from kale, linseeds or 100% organic raw cacao! You will not lose weight if you consume too many calories.
Do you know your serving sizes?
If you don’t and you can’t lose weight, its something I would definitely start to look into!
Lets take the foods above as an example.
20g of peanut butter is around 130 calories but you are having 40g for each serving. (I saw you lick the spoon and double dip) That’s an extra 130 calories being consumed.
Instead of 30g of cereal you have 60g. That’s being generous, you could easily hammer 100-150g of cereal in a sitting without even thinking about it! 30g of cornflakes is around 115 calories. That’s an extra 115 calories being consumed.
You have your bowl of cereal every morning Monday-Friday and your peanut butter on toast in the evening.
That’s 245 calories extra per day.
A lot of people advise a 300-500 calorie deficit per day.
That’s it nearly wiped out right there!
3.) Snacking & Picking
This is a funny one. There’s research both to support snacking for helping control appetite and weight loss, then there’s also research showing that it can actually slow weight loss down by increasing the total calories consumed each day.
I personally prefer to go with limiting snacking & picking for a few reasons;
– Snacking and picking can really add up calories very quickly and stall your fat loss efforts. A 500-600 calorie ‘snack’ is easier to consume than you think!
– You don’t get that feeling of being full from it so it’s kind of like wasting calories.
– People tend to snack and ‘pick’ at the wrong foods. I’ve had many clients that find snacking actually makes them hungrier! You don’t see many people nibbling at chicken or vegetables!
– It leaves you less calories for your bigger meals which can limit your choice and variety at those meals.
– People tend to rely on snacks and leave out bigger meals in their diet. Especially people who are busy and they just eat on the go. They miss out on all the benefits of actually sitting down, eating a large meal with a variety of nutrients and enjoying their food.
– From experience, people seem to have an easier time losing fat and sticking to their diet by sticking to a meal structure and limiting snacking/picking.
– People snack and pick mindlessly and for the wrong reasons. They often don’t realize what they’re doing or how much they’re consuming.
You’ll notice most of the above is my own opinion from experience! There is no right or wrong answer here, it’s more about finding out what works best for you!
If you hear people saying you must have 2-3 snacks per day to keep the metabolism burning or you can’t go longer than 3 hours without eating because you’ll blow up, please stop following them.
There is no one size fits all. Try out different things, monitor it and analyse it. Find what works for you and is SUSTAINABLE in the long term.
Some people do actually prefer having a snack or 2 during the day but I would make sure;
- It’s planned.
- Either high in protein or high in fibre.
- You are aware of how many calories are in it.
- It’s accounted for in your diet and being controlled in some way.
- You’re eating it for the right reason e.g. ”I’ll have fruit and yogurt to tie me over until dinner” is much different to ”I’m having a stressful day in work so I am having a slice of cake.”
If you do none of the above and just snack/pick mindlessly with no structure or plan, it’s very easy to overeat.
Here’s an example of how easy it is for snacking to stall your fat loss efforts:
That box of Roses/Celebrations in the office.
They may seem like tiny little chocolates but they can add up quite fast.
If you are having one sweet every hour over an 8 hour day:
45 calories per sweet x 8 hours = 360 calories
360 calories x 5 days per week = 1,800 calories.
You want to lose 1lb per week (approx 3,500 calories), that’s over half your deficit wiped out and for what?? A couple of small chocolates.
You could easily do this and if I asked you how many chocolates you had at the end of the day, you probably wouldn’t even remember (mindless eating).
You would probably say no to a 360 calories chocolate bar because it seems like too much but yet you can eat 8 small ones and think it is nothing!
Just something to think about.
4.) Neglecting Sleep
On average people will eat 200-300 more calories per day when they are sleep deprived.
That’s over 70,000 extra calories per year.
This works out at over 20 pounds per year.
When you are sleep deprived, you don’t actually realize that you are!
When you look at the way a lot of people gain weight, it’s not instant but a gradual weight gain over years. This wouldn’t be too far off the figures above.
If you gained 0.5 pounds a week.
2 pounds a month.
24 pounds over a year.
Obviously a lack of sleep is not the only cause of this but my opinion is that it’s definitely a contributing factor. A lot more than we think.
The world we live in today isn’t doing us any favours when it comes to sleep;
High stress environments,
Netflix (one more episode).
It’s affecting both the amount of sleep and the quality of sleep we get.
Even if you are doing all the right things with your training and nutrition – if you are neglecting sleep, you will not be getting the best return on investment for your hard work!
A study took 2 groups;
1 group slept 5.5 hours and the other slept 8 hours.
Calorie intakes were the same.
The group that slept 5.5 hours had reduced fat loss of 55% compared to the 8 hour group. That’s a massive difference to your progress!
“You can sleep when you’re dead.” Yes and you’ll likely die sooner if you neglect sleep. Aside from it not helping with your weight loss goals, you will likely have a poorer quality of life, be less productive, more likely to be overweight and at a higher risk of diseases. The list could go on and on.
Don’t neglect your sleep. Or you’ll pay for it!
5.) Weekend Calories
”I deserve this.”
”One day won’t do me any harm.”
”Cheat day bruh”
This is probably the most common thing that holds back peoples’ results! Doing all the hard work all week in the gym and kitchen.
Then Friday evening hits.
Here’s the problem.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday makes up 42% of the week.
Your body doesn’t care that it’s the weekend.
It doesn’t store fat based on emotion, what day it is and what you think you deserve.
ou can easily undo a week’s work of dieting in one weekend (or even one meal).
You work up a calorie deficit of 3,000 during the week.
You overeat by 2,000 at the weekend.
This isn’t even by going mad. Out for dinner and a couple of drinks on Saturday night. You have a dessert but make good choices at dinner! Then you go for brunch on Sunday but just have the healthy option.
That would probably do it (imagine what damage you could do on a real wild weekend).
This leaves you in a 1,000 calorie deficit over the week.
This would mean it would take approx;
3.5 weeks to lose 1 pound
14 weeks to lose 4 pounds.
28 weeks to lose half a stone.
That’s a long time to be psychologically dieting for very little return. The worse thing is you could be doing the right things 80-90% of the time but not seeing the results as that other 10-20% is completely out doing it.
Successfully losing weight comes down to consistently being in a calorie deficit over time. This includes the weekends (unfortunately ).
By being aware of some of these problem areas, hopefully you will have a better understanding of why you are struggling to lose weight and you will be able to implement some strategies to get you back on track to reaching your goals.
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