1. Focusing Only On The Scales
You embark on your life changing fat loss journey, start exercising, eating right, and weigh yourself to begin monitoring your progress. A week later your weight has increased despite the hard work you put in. “What’s going on?” you think while feeling disappointed and discouraged, wondering whether it’s worth it to continue.
Calm down. Actually, there could be more than a number of reasons, and it’s why you should try to measure your weight only once daily, preferably at the same time, and within the same circumstances.
First off, your body’s weight can fluctuate up to 2-4% on a daily basis due to a whole bunch of factors. If you’re a woman, your menstrual cycle could affect it, the amount of salt vs. water consumption could affect it, and even exercise intensity or sleep! That’s why we recommend weighing daily in the morning after you wake up having using the bathroom. Gather the daily data and calculate a weekly average (or a 7-day rolling average) to really see how your weight is changing. When you weigh weekly and you see a sudden spike in weight, it’s highly likely that one of those weigh-ins was actually an outlier and not a true reflection of your average weight.
Secondly, if you’ve just adopted strength training into your exercise regimen, it’s highly likely you’ll be seeing some increase in muscle mass from the new stimulus. While you may have lost some fat, any gain in muscle could counter this weight-loss. Thus while your scales show no change, you may have actually lost body fat (and we know how lean you look is a ratio of lean mass to fat mass). Take a look in the mirror, or see how your clothes fit. Do you look better? Are those pants you couldn’t wear a year ago now easier to fit into?
The scale is a great tool to use but don’t rely on it as your sole indicator of progress and use other methods to track your fat loss.
2. Being Overly Aggressive
When people hear the words “fat loss”, they tend to straightaway think of eating less. Often they will have preconceived notions on how to approach this based on what they’ve seen on social media or heard from friends. A classic strategy is “it’s time for me to cut dinners!” and just like that, you’re down to just one or two meals a day.
Firstly, this is a recipe for disaster in most cases as you’ve most definitely cut out a huge chunk of your caloric intake for the day putting you in a deficit much larger than necessary. What happens if you’re not only going to be losing fat but precious lean muscle mass along with it. Like we mentioned before, how lean you look is determined by the ratio of lean mass to fat mass. To optimize fat loss and lean mass retention you want to put yourself at a caloric deficit of about 10-20% of your maintenance and be aiming to lose approximately 0.50-1.00% of your bodyweight weekly. Usually, this will be your bodyweight in lbs multiplied by 11.
Secondly, you likely also have no idea how much protein you are having daily as you aren’t really tracking anything. Unless all you eat is lean sources of meat and vegetables, you’re going to be having sub-optimal levels of protein required not only to build muscle but recover from strenuous workouts. Protein is muscle sparing so if you aren’t having enough, again you aren’t going to be optimizing your lean mass retention.
Start putting more thought into your fat loss approach and use food tracking tools or a well thought out diet plan to adhere to.
3. Eating “Healthy Foods” Without Reading The Nutrition Label/Information
I'm talking about those foods that have a “healthy” ring to it such as almond butter, chia seeds, protein balls. In most cases, these foods are going to have a range of vitamins and minerals that you need in a balanced diet, but fat loss won’t occur if you’re still over-consuming on calories. The fact of the matter is, to lose fat you are going to have to expend more energy (calories) than you intake. An avocado easily packs 300+ calories and if you’re topping your toast with that along with a few eggs and some seeds/nuts, it’s going to amount to a pretty caloric meal.
Read your nutrition labels or search for the nutritional information on what you eat. Some foods will surprise you as to how caloric they are!