Let’s face it: Fat loss can be daunting. We can try and try and try but still never quite accomplish our goals. But why is this the case?
In my experience, there are five primary reasons why people fall short with fat loss. Luckily, though, these saboteurs are as fixable as they are common! Here, I’ll break down why these mistakes stand between you and your goals, plus how to avoid them, so that you can finally see the results you’re after.
Sound like a solid plan? Let’s dive into the key mistakes that might be sabotaging your fat loss.
Mistake #1: Tracking Calories Instead of Focusing on Satiety
Generally speaking, tracking calories is a task that can only be maintained by the most avid of bodybuilders. For everyday people that simply want to be healthy or lose weight, it’s just not sustainable and usually leads to frustration. If you’re deep in calorie-tracking, it’s hard to go out with friends, you’re less able to enjoy what you eat, and you might even develop a negative relationship with food. Not to mention, unconscious behavior drives most of our actions when it comes to food choices when we’re hungry. When our stomach is rumbling, both our mood and self-control decrease, so we’re more likely to choose less nutritious foods.
The answer here? To increase satiety and minimize appetite, which helps us to strengthen our self-control, overeat less, and snack less. Studies show that the best ways to lower appetite and increase satiety are to:
- Add more air and water to your foods to help you feel fuller faster. For example, you might blend a shake for a little longer to add air to it and have soup with dinner.
- Make sure half of your plate at mealtime is filled with green veggies—and eat those first!
- Use medium-sized plates, as studies show that having a full-looking plate makes you feel fuller.
Mistake #2: having an Extra-Long eating window
Did you know that 90 percent of Americans eat throughout a window of 12 to 15 hours per day? This means they might have breakfast at eight in the morning and their final bite of food at 11 at night. When you consider how long it takes to digest food, many people are then processing nutrients for at least 20 out of 24 hours of the day! This type of pattern makes it almost impossible to create a calorie deficit, which is necessary for weight loss. So, limiting your eating window can be an important move for supporting fat loss. Aim to limit your feeding period to under 12 hours for weight maintenance and under 9 hours for weight loss.
Mistake #3: Confusing Thirst for Hunger
Research shows that the more overweight an individual is, the more likely they are to be under-hydrated. Overall, the prevalence of hypohydration is 45.7 percent in obese American adults compared with 28.5 percent in adults who are underweight or normal weight. Considering how common it is to mistake thirst for hunger, those seeking fat loss can certainly benefit from getting more hydration into their bodies. The goal: Drink enough so that your pee is always light like lemonade. Any darker and you are dehydrated!
Read More: 4 Ways To Eat Your Water And Boost Hydration
Also worth mentioning: Dehydration is associated with decreases in physiologic, emotional, and cognitive functioning—and people often turn to food to address these problems. That’s yet another reason to try and stay ahead of your thirst if you want to lose fat.
Mistake #4: Letting Your Workout Routine Get Stale
Give your body the chance and it’ll become more efficient at pretty much anything you ask it to do. And while that’s great in some scenarios, it’s actually not beneficial for weight loss. In fact, researchers have shown that repeated bouts of the same exercise session cause us to burn fewer calories in that exercise session. To ensure your workouts are best serving your fat loss goals, I challenge you to examine your current workout schedule and the exercises that you most commonly do. For the next six months, commit to switching things up with new moves! This alone will make your workouts less economical and more fat-loss-friendly. (Try these fat-incinerating HIIT workouts.)
Mistake #5: Emphasizing a Motivation That’s Not In Your Control
I’ve had the pleasure of doing research on life coach Tony Robbins and his methods for years. (I recently collaborated with Stanford University on two papers about him.) What I have learned from studying Tony for almost a decade is that we must have control over our own motivations in order to reach our goals.
One key here is to minimize anxiety-promoting needs and switch to fulfillment needs. Here’s what that means: Most people are driven by significance and want to be the most important person in the room. Their goals, including weight loss, are to stand out and be recognized. The problem with this is that how people perceive you is out of your control, and will always drive higher anxiety. And no one truly achieves (and maintains) their goals from a place of anxiety. Or, if you do, it’ll never feel like enough.
So, try switching up your motivation to emphasize fulfillment, growth, and contribution. This means that your perspective on weight loss might be, “If I improve myself, I will be able to be an example for others and I can stay healthy for my family.” Or, “If I am in better shape, I can participate in activities that bring joy to others’ lives.” These motivations will always help you reach your goals much better than significance.
The Bottom Line
Fat loss can be tricky for many people to achieve, but course-correcting in a few key areas can make a huge difference in your results. The saboteurs I outlined here are often some of the biggest hurdles people face, so I hope the advice I offer gets you on track!
Known as ‘The Muscle Ph.D.,’ Dr. Jacob Wilson has a knack for transforming challenging, complex concepts into understandable lessons that can support your body composition and health goals. A skeletal muscle physiologist and sports nutrition expert, Wilson is a leader in muscle sports nutrition. As the CEO of The Applied Science & Performance Institute and researches supplementation, nutrition, and their impact on muscle size, strength, and power.