December 31

5 Mistakes people make in the New Year

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Chances are, like most people, you’ve eaten and drunk too much over the last few weeks (or maybe a lot longer).

Your clothes are tight, there’s an extra layer round your belly, and you decide you can’t go on like this anymore.

It’s New Year.

NOW is the time to do something about it.

So what do you do?

There’s so many options out there.

Adverts everywhere you look, luring you in with promises of dramatic weight loss and LOSE A STONE IN 2 WEEKS!

It can be pretty daunting and confusing, and it’s really easy to make a bad choice.

Here’s 5 big mistakes I see people make in the New Year, and what you can do instead:

MISTAKE #1 – Going on a crazy diet

The cabbage soup diet. The tuna diet (literally eating nothing but tuna!). A juicing ‘detox’ where you live off nothing but water and blended vegetables. Signing up to replace real food with some company’s manufactured bars, powders and shakes.

All of these are completely unnecessary, and some of them are just completely mad.

These will NEVER work in the long term, because they’re just not sustainable.

For a start, you’re missing out on vital nutrients that your body needs, and it can’t cope with that long term. For everything to work and function as it should you need the full spectrum of available nutrition. Protein. Healthy fats. Fibre. Vitamins and minerals. Quality carbohydrates. These all come from a BALANCE of REAL FOOD. Cutting out a load of foods and food groups can cause a whole host of problems both short and long term.

Yes, these diets might result in a fair bit of weight loss in the first few weeks. This is because you have dramatically cut the amount of calories you’re consuming. But a lot of this weight will come from water and muscle loss. Losing muscle means your metabolism drops, so you now need to eat LESS calories than before in order to maintain weight and not gain it.

Chances are you’ll be miserable throughout the diet, and excited to reach the point where you’ve lost the weight and can start ‘eating normally again’.

‘Eating normally’ means increasing your calories back to a normal level. But because you’ve lost muscle and reduced your metabolism, what was normal for you before is now too much.

This is why many people regain all the weight they lost and a bit extra once they’ve finished their diet.

The more drastic the diet is and the bigger the amount of weight loss it promises in a short space of time, the higher the chances that this will happen.

Diets don’t work, trust me. Don’t fall into that trap!

 

MISTAKE #2 – Dramatically cutting calories

Some people decide that all they really need to do is virtually stop eating for a few weeks to lose the weight.

Coffee for breakfast, soup for lunch, chicken and vegetables for dinner.

This generally doesn’t work either, for similar reasons to mistake #1.

Cutting calories to half the amount you’re used to will OF COURSE mean that you’ll lose weight pretty rapidly. But again, you’ll be miserable, and a lot of what you lose will be water and muscle as well as fat. So once you stop the calorie cutting, the weight will pile back on again.

A lot of people who follow this method also tend to have the odd blowout at the weekend.

A big meal out, a takeaway, a night on the booze etc.

Any high calorie event like this will have WAY more of an impact on your body if you are starving it most of the time.

An influx of calories to an underfed body is the perfect chance for it to create and store as much fat as possible. You’re semi-starving right? So you need all the body fat you can get in case there’s a famine. That’s what your body thinks.

 

MISTAKE #3 – Completely cutting out carbs

A lot of people could benefit from reducing their carbohydrate intake, but you don’t need to cut them out completely. You need SOME carbs for your body to function properly.

The type of carbohydrates that many people get too much of are bread, cereals, pasta and processed/baked goods like pastries, cakes and biscuits. These generally give you a lot of calories and sugar for very little nutrition.

Better quality options are oats, sweet potato, quinoa, beans and pulses, fruit, and loads of vegetables.

You DEFINITLEY want to get some carbs in after you’ve done weights or intense exercise. Your muscles are depleted at this point and it’s the perfect time to consume carbohydrates (and protein) to replenish and restore your body so that it becomes fitter and stronger for next time.

It also tends to work well for people to have a carb source at either breakfast or dinner, depending on what you find works best for your hunger and energy levels.

Some people find that reducing carbs too much leaves them feeling low on energy and a bit ‘spaced out’ (I’m one of those people), whereas others find they feel fantastic on just one or two servings per day.

The bottom line is reducing the amount you have may help, but it’s not a good idea to cut them completely.

Carbohydrate will only cause you to gain weight if they are part of a diet that contains too many calories.

 

MISTAKE #4 – Avoiding fat at all costs

Fat is still seen as the enemy to many dieters because it contains so many calories.

Compared to carbs and protein (which contain 4 calories per gram), fat is much more calorie dense (9 calories per gram). This means you get less food for the same amount of calories if you eat a lot of fat. A tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of almond butter both equate to around 120 calories, so it’s easy to overconsume and easy to see why many try to avoid it completely.

The problem is that fat is essential to having a healthy body.

It’s involved in a ton of processes that happen in your brain, your cells and your organs.

If you don’t get enough of it, your body will not function properly and things will eventually start to break down.

Fat also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer and have more balanced energy levels.

If you understand the amount of calories in a portion, you will have no problem eating fat. In fact it will likely HELP you to lose weight. Your body will function better (a happy healthy body lets go of fat stores much easier) and you’ll have more energy, so you’ll move around more and burn extra calories throughout the day.

What’s a portion of fat?

A fillet of oily fish, half an avocado, a thumb sized portion of nuts and seeds, a tablespoon of oil or nut butter, 2-3 eggs.

Incorporate one of these into each of your meals and you will have a MUCH better chance of long term weight loss success.

 

MISTAKE #5 – Not getting enough protein

If you’re trying to lose weight, protein (along with vegetables) should be your best friend.

It will fuel your body, help your muscles recover from exercise and keep you feeling fuller for longer.

More importantly (from a weight loss perspective) getting enough protein will encourage your body to burn fat rather than muscle.

This means that as you slim down, your metabolism will stay higher (it will still drop, but not as much as if you lose a load of muscle) and you wont have to restrict your calories quite as much.

If you pair this with exercise – specifically, weights training – you will preserve as much muscle as possible and burn more fat.

Doing it this way, you will uncover a lean, toned physique, rather than just appearing smaller but wi
th a few flabby bits still.

With all these benefits, why would you neglect to have enough protein?!

What is enough protein?

1 gram per pound of your bodyweight is a good rule to follow. So if you weigh 140lbs, aim to consume 140g of protein. If you have a lot of weight to lose and that amount of protein seems too much, aim for 1 gram per pound of your TARGET bodyweight.

Or, if you’re looking for simpler guidelines, simply aim for a portion of protein in each meal, and possibly in 1-2 snacks. An example of this could be eggs for breakfast, fish at lunch, chicken at dinner, and some slices of cold meat as a snack.

 

SUMMARY

SO, to sum up, if you need to lose weight, please:

  • Don’t go on a crazy diet or dramatically cut your calories
  • Don’t completely cut out carbs or fat
  • Don’t neglect to have enough protein

 

Instead, follow these guidelines:

  • Be aware of how many calories are in your food and drink, and aim to reduce the amount you have by 10-20%
  • Aim to have a source of protein in each meal
  • Eat 5-8 portions of veggies each day
  • Drink 2-3 litres of water per day
  • Get a small serving of healthy fats in most meals
  • Exercise regularly – particularly weights training
  • Eat carbs after your training, and at breakfast or dinner
  • Walk more – aim for 10,000 steps per day

 


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