As a nation we do not have a weight loss problem; we are actually great at losing weight! The problem is we struggle to keep it off, and are just as adept at regaining (at least) the weight we lost.
This cycle occurs because the methods we use to lose weight are unsustainable, and cannot be continued beyond a short period or integrated into a realistic or enjoyable lifestyle. I’m talking juice cleanses, detox teas, no carbs, paleo, gluten free, sugar free, clean eating, etc., but I am also pointing at popular 1-3 month plans that suggest very low calories, and abuse HIIT cardio for rapid results. They do this because they care more for the marketing materials (extreme and unsustainable results) than your health and long term progress.
So, if you cannot keep the weight off, the all too common rubbish advice floating around the fitness industry is broken down below…
Don’t count calories:
Sure, you can drop weight without counting calories, but it is an inefficient and ineffective (long term) way to do so.
By counting calories you can find the maximum intake you can hit, and still drop fat. This sounds strange, but by dropping fat on higher calories you have more calories to play with, maintain a greater metabolic rate, and allow for more flexibility and wiggle room for further calorie drops if fat loss stalls.
Also, being in less of an aggressive calorie deficit will result in more weight lost from fat rather than muscle. This will help men appear more muscular, and women more defined. In addition to this you can have a more enjoyable and varied diet, which is more likely to become a genuine part of a healthy lifestyle.
Also, once you have counted calories you will learn about portion control; regarding both meal and snack sizing, and macronutrient breakdown. So ultimately counting calories will allow you to eventually stop tracking so closely if you wish.
Just eat intuitively:
For someone who needs to drop fat or has been historically overweight (never lean) this will also be inefficient and incredibly hard to follow properly.
You cannot just click your fingers and all of a sudden know what your body needs to achieve your aesthetic goals. Arguably intuitive eating is the next ‘clean eating’ craze, under which all the people who championed, ran away and then slagged off clean eating will gather. It basically suggests eating ‘what your body needs’, which makes you think any of the ‘bad/junk foods’ you have been consuming are now banned.
We feel this could lead to orthorexia, as clean eating arguably did, causing people to become scared of and ban more and more products over time.
Counting your calories will be far more effective in showing you what your body needs, portion sizing and creating a diet you can abide to long term and enjoy. And, alike to the wish of not counting calories, ironically tracking your calorie and macro intake for a period is the only way to educate yourself to the degree needed to ‘eat intuitively’.
Clean up your diet:
‘Cleaning up your diet’ is a sure fire way to create a nutrition regime that is great on paper, but unsustainable and doomed to fail after a month or so in the real World.
To clean up your diet is a subjective term, and it immediately breaks down foods into good and bad, clean and dirty, banned and allowed, good vs evil. There is no objective list or science behind clean eating, and as well as facilitating binge behaviour, it has also been blamed for a rise orthorexia (fear of certain foods) through social media channels relentlessly (directly and indirectly) promoting it.
Flexible dieting is far easier to maintain, and genuinely allows you to integrate your diet into a lifestyle you enjoy, so you can progress consistently long term. We compare clean eating, flexible dieting and IIFYM in greater depth here.
You can’t store fat as fat:
This is a statement that has dribbled out of the paleo and keto groups, and even some high profile fitness celebrities, which is entirely wrong.
You can store fat as fat, period. If you eat into a calorie surplus through fats and protein (regardless of carb intake) you will still gain fat.
‘Eat fat to burn fat’ is also simply stupid and just plain wrong.
You need to be burning more calories per day (through activity and living) than you consume through food and drink, to create a net calorie deficit, in order to lose weight.
If you are too restrictive with your calories, you will likely lose muscle as well as fat. Another issue with being in too much of a deficit is that your metabolism may adapt and slow down over time, and weight loss will stall. This will also mean if you revert to your original food intake you may gain more weight than you lost, and be worse off than before.
Going too restrictive, through clean, intuitive, exclusive eating or otherwise, will also take a lot of the fun, satisfaction and stimulation away from your diet. This will create cravings that will eventually break your will, causing you to binge on these banned foods. This cycle of abstinence, binging and then punishment with more food bans, is not a healthy or sustainable relationship with food.
Our Male and Female fat loss guides cover your specific nutrition, and how to genuinely integrate it into your lifestyle – rather than the typical prescriptive, expensive, arduous, ‘clean’ meal plan basis associated with other less effective plans. Our Muscle Building plan is also based on a flexible dieting basis, being educative, sustainable and effective.