Mistake 1: NOT EATING ENOUGH
Ironically, “not eating enough” is also a common mistake people who are trying to gain weight tend to make. This logic is sound, but you need to approach it strategically. Think “precision ground strike,” not “nuclear bomb.”
If you jump into dieting haphazardly or too drastically and cut too many calories from your daily intake, you may set off a chain of unfortunate effects.
In the beginning, you’ll feel tired, mentally unclear, and maybe even a little cranky as your blood sugar falls low between meals. As you continue your low-calorie cut, your body will begin to get alarmed and hold on to fat stores instead of metabolizing them. In combination with all the cardio you’ve probably been doing to reinforce your aggressive fat-loss diet, you may force your body to burn muscle for fuel instead of fat.
A far better way to lean down is to cut back to a reasonable deficit. To start, try knocking off 500 calories from your current daily or maintenance intake level. For example, if you normally consume 3,000 calories per day, you would knock it back to 2,500. A 500-calorie daily deficit amounts to a weekly deficit of 3,500 calories, which—and this is no coincidence—is the amount of calories stored in a pound of body fat.
When it comes time to cut down, I still eat the same 5-6 meals every day, but I adjust the portion size. I still make sure to get adequate protein, complex carbs and healthy fats You need these. Don’t neglect them, or you’ll end up paying the price!
Mistake 2 : SNACKING BETWEEN MEALS
OK, you’ve got your 2,500 calories down on paper. Now ask yourself: Does this reflect everything you actually eat? Be honest!
Here’s the thing about a small caloric deficit: It can easily be turned into a surplus simply by eating a few handfuls of almonds, granola, or fruit. The effect is multiplied when the snacks are unhealthy—potato chips, candy, or ice cream, for example.
Save the junk for your weekly cheat meal. And if you don’t have a cheat meal scheduled in your diet plan, then it’s even more important to have enough pride and discipline to know you followed your plan.
Mistake 3 : RIGHT FOOD, WRONG SAUCE
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an otherwise perfect diet meal ruined by a poor choice of sauce or condiment. Salad dressings, dips, and sauces are normally loaded with calories, and I don’t know anybody who measures them out in half-teaspoons—especially when they’re hungry!
To start, look for “light” versions of your favorite sauces. They are out there, along with a plethora of fat-free items that aren’t marketed to people who are dieting. For instance, I enjoy mustard and Sriracha because they offer intense flavor with little caloric impact.
You’re best off avoiding sauces altogether when eating in a restaurant. If you must include a sauce or dressing with your food, ask for it on the side, so you can control the exact amount you ingest.
And remember: That salmon filet may be great, but there’s no such thing as a “light” lemon butter sauce!
Mistake 4 : DRINKING USELESS CALORIES
One of the easiest ways to accelerate fat loss is to cut all sugary drinks out of your diet. If you currently consume them, and you changed nothing else in your diet, you would see a drop in body fat—and perhaps a significant one.
This isn’t going to shock most people, because they know Coke, Pepsi, and even their energetic children Monster and Rock Star contain totally unjustifiable amounts of sugar. And yet far too many of us still find a way to justify the unjustifiable. The time has come! Draw a line through the can!
While you’re at it, lose other sugar sources which hide behind the mask of health. Even though you can find juices which contain “no added sugar,” fruit is naturally high in sugar, particularly when you remove all the seeds, skin, and fiber. While juices may contain nutrients and antioxidants, they have no business being in your glass while you’re dieting—even so-called “green juices.” Only get nutrients from the source. Eat an apple or a salad.