4 Common Dieting Mistakes
I don’t know one person that hasn’t dieted or attempted to diet at some point in their life. Whether it was Atkins, South beach, Jucing or your own plan; you all tried it at least once. I have worked with over 120 diet clients in the last 4 months alone on their nutrition and helping them change their body. Here are some of the common problems I have come across. Some are mistakes of the more serious dieter/exerciser while the others are mistakes from the more general person looking to drop pounds.
1.) You eat carbohydrates at EVERY SINGLE MEAL. This one goes for everyone. Out of the macronutrients protein, fat and carbohydrates, only 2 are considered “essential”. Essential amino acids from protein and essential fatty acids, these are things that we cannot synthesize in our own body and that we require for normal body functioning. So technically you can survive without carbohydrates as your body has the ability to produce glucose. Yet, the typical person consumes more carbohydrates in their diet than fat or protein, sometimes more than those 2 combined. I’d say roughly 30% of the people who send me their diets have 60-70% of their daily calories from carbohydrates. Our food consumption has gone up and our activity has gone down and people are still wondering why obesity is increasing…?
Carbohydrates should be used to fuel activity or recover from strenuous activity and quite frankly the majority of people are completely inactive. If you are inactive and do not get the benefit of lifting weights (improvement in glucose metabolism or better handling of your carbohydrates through increased insulin sensitivity) than you do not need a ton of carbohydrates. If you weight train you should be on the moderate end of carbohydrate consumption. But even for more conscious dieters, when insulin levels are high, fat burning is inhibited and fat storage is engaged. When insulin is low, then the body shifts to burning more stored fat as fuel. Keeping carbohydrates high all day long and constantly spiking insulin is not only a poor choice for your physique but also your health (insulin resistance). In order to get the body that you want (for most this is a lean muscular look) you have to have enough muscle tissue and a low enough level of body fat to display your “lean” look.
2.) Eating when you are full. This can apply to our serious trainee and the more recreational one. A lot of people trying to add muscle or gain weight adhere to the outdated and disproven theory of eating 6-8 times per day to keep your metabolism burning. It is the caloric load, not the meal frequency that ultimately matters in regards to metabolism or BMR. The research and studies backing this are plentiful. So, here are some mistakes people make when trying to apply the multiple small meals to their diet. First, if you are still full and your next meal is supposed to be coming up because 2 or 3 hours has surpassed….then DON’T EAT. We have conditioned ourselves to be hungry every 3 hours, you don’t need the food but your body is accustomed to eating at these intervals. If you are still digesting your previous meal and you have no desire to eat at the moment then just wait. I promise you’ll survive. You can make up the “missed” calories in your next meal. The nutrients you take in are only as good as your ability to digest and absorb them.
Bodybuilders use this method because they have x amount of calories they want to get per day and sometimes the only way to get a large number of calories is to space it out over a lot of meals. The regular person does NOT need to eat 6-8 small meals a day and carry Tupperware around. Is it that horrible for you? No, but it’s not necessary and sometimes it has some unintended consequences. Here’s what you end up doing; your 6-8 “small” meals aren’t always as small as they should be and it becomes very easy to eat more calories than you need because there are more opportunities to eat. Also, there are benefits to less frequent meals (lower blood glucose for example) and most prefer having larger more satisfying meals vs. more frequent small less-filling meals. Eating has become an event or an activity in today’s culture. Learn how to EARN your meals, your carbohydrates, your sweets and learn when you have had enough so you aren’t just eating to simply eat.
3.) You are scared of fat. Fat can be scary…if you are referring to the fat on your ass, thighs, waist or arms. But dietary fat has gotten a bad rep because we have equated body fat (adipose tissue) with dietary fat (a fuel source). Fat has the highest amount of calories per g (9) compared to protein and carbohydrates but so what? Do not blame a single macronutrient for making you overweight; it’s the combination of your calories, improper macronutrient ratios and lack of inactivity that is to blame. The health benefits of “healthy fats” like monounsaturated, polyunsaturated etc, are plentiful (healthy hormone regulation for example).
My favorite sources of fat are: grass fed beef, WHOLE eggs, MCT Oil, Coconut Oil, Coconut, Avocado, peanut butter, almond butter, salmon. I advise all my clients to increase medium-chain triglycerides in their diet (MCTs), whether this is from coconut oil or grass fed butter, there are numerous benefits to this type of fat (increased energy expenditure, weight loss, increased fatty acid oxidation, aids in digestion, increase metabolism, increase satiety etc) MCT’s are quickly absorbed and oxidized for energy. Unlike Long chain triglycerides which must go through a much longer process in order to be used as energy. The diets of my clients, whether they want to lose weight or add muscle, are generally higher in fat than they’d expect and yet they all see results. So don’t skimp out on your fat intake, just make sure it’s the right fats and in the right amount.
4.) You see a diet, not a lifestyle. My number 1 rule for any successful diet is that it must be sustainable. A diet can’t really work if you can’t consistently follow it, right? For some, a really convenient diet may be a fasting protocol during the day with 2 large meals at night. And guess what? That can work just fine. What’s most important are the daily, weekly and monthly calorie totals; not how many meals you had per day. You can find a set up that works with your schedule; you just need to make sure you have the motivation and desire to see it through. You have to acknowledge that it will require some discipline but that doesn’t mean you will never have any sort of freedom either. As long as you keep calories and macronutrient levels in check, your set up doesn’t matter that much (until you start having some very very specific goals like a bodybuilding show for example). If you are just looking to do something for 8 or 10 weeks then you aren’t set up for long term success. Anybody can crash diet for a few weeks and drop some cheap pounds. But if you want to look good year round you have to find a way to balance your life with your fitness goals. So how do you know if you are doing this? Well, look in the mirror, not on the scale. Are you where you want to be? If not, your current set up clearly isn’t working and you need to make changes. Either do some research (and be prepared for tons of contradictions out there), use trial and error on yourself or find and hire someone that you trust. What they should be able to teach you is how to eat for life, not just a prescribed amount of time.