Many are lead to believe that just by eating healthier foods and going to the gym a few times a week, that this is enough to make a change in our lives. Well, they would be right, but if you find yourself making SLOW progress, I have listed a few reasons below that may be slowing you down.
REASON 1 - DIET
IIFYM –If It Fits Your Macros There are many diet techniques out there and choosing the right one can be difficult, especially if you are new to fitness. At the end of the day it comes down to ensuring you are eating enough calories, protein, carbs and fat to keep as much muscle as possible while losing weight.
But you need to make sure you are eating the right foods. Just because two foods have the same macronutrient content (protein, carbs, fat) doesn’t mean they are as equally as good for you.
There is a method of eating known as “If It Fits Your Macros” or “IIFYM” which goes along the lines that you can eat whatever you want as long as you are filling your macros for the day. I would urge you to NOT utilize this method for your everyday dieting needs.
For the sake of an easy example, let’s take to different dinner plates and theoretically assume they have the same exact macronutrients. One dinner consists of a lean cut of fish and a sweet potato while the other consists of a greasy hamburger and pop-tarts.
Now, although from the outside looking in these two dinners may have the same exact amounts of protein, carbs, and fat and your body can’t distinguish where the macronutrients are coming from; for example the carbs from a pop-tart compared to the carbs from a sweet potato, the issue lies in “what else” comes with eating these foods.
Not a lean cut of meat
Simple carbs from bun
Lean Cut Of Fish
High protein / low fat
Omega 3 fatty acids
As you can see, when we break down these meals there is a very clear difference in food quality and it is easy to see why choosing the right foods can make a difference.
Why IIFYM didn’t work for me. Before I started IIFYM I was extremely lean and wanting to put on more muscle. When trying to gain muscle, you need to eat in a calorie surplus. Typically, when trying to gain muscle you need to be eating 250-500 calories over your BMR a day. In about 2 months I went from 172lbs to 182lbs. I was happy to be gaining weight but noticed my abs were definitely not as well defined and I was holding a lot more body fat in and around my lower back. I was eating pretty much anything that filled my macros for the day, went out to eat a lot more, and was eating basically up until I went to bed. I didn’t have a set schedule for when to consume carbs and protein either.
It has been proven that meal timing doesn’t make a difference because you can’t change the thermic effect of food. However, I have learned with my body that if I eat the majority of my food throughout the morning and afternoon, I don’t feel bloated when I go to sleep and I wake up feeling much leaner. Everyone is different and it will be your personal preference when it comes to when you eat your meals.
I decided enough was enough, tossed IIFYM to the curb, and I was going to make LEAN GAINS my way. I began to adjust my meal plan to consist of only healthy / natural food choices such as fruits, vegetables, Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts, and lean cuts of meat. I then filled in the gaps with my BSN supplement stack. I also decide to eat the majority of my food, especially carbs, in the morning to midafternoon and focused on mainly protein for the rest of the day.
Since adjusting my eating I dropped back down to 173lbs. However, my bodyfat % is much lower now. This means that although I am close to the same weight, I have packed on more muscle. Now that I am leaner I have also noticed more striations in my legs, chest and arms. (See Images 1 & 2)
Eating EMPTY CALORIES / Not Eating Enough The biggest mistake most people make when trying to lose weight is that they drastically cut down on their calorie intake for the day. This is a MAJOR problem and can result in massive muscle loss as well as extreme drops in your energy levels.
For example, if you are eating 2000 calories a day and suddenly drop to eating only 900 calories a day and are trying to curb your hunger by eating large portions of salads and rice cakes, this is only going to put your body into “starvation mode”. Salads and rice cakes do not contain the amounts of protein, carbs, and fat that you will need in order to reach your macronutrient goals for the day.
The problem with drastically dropping your calorie intake is that while in “starvation mode” you are more than likely going to hold onto MORE body fat. The only time your body will release body fat is if it is getting a steady supply of food. If your body feels like it is going to enter starvation mode, it will do everything it can to ensure it doesn’t die and this includes holding onto excess body fat for energy.
If you would like to safely lose body fat, all you need to do is figure out what your daily basil metabolic rate (BMR) is and eat about 250 – 500 calories below that number a day. It takes around 3500 calories burned to lose 1 pound of fat. So if you are in a calorie deficit of 500 calories a day, you can safely lose 1 pound of fat a week which equals 4 pounds of fat a month.
Another quick tip to ensure you maintain your muscle mass while in a calorie deficit is to stick to a high protein diet. You want to avoid the “skinny fat” look which is basically when you lose weight but your skin is not tight. For the Lady Hermanites reading this article, you WILL NOT gain a massive amount of muscle just from eating a high protein diet. Yes, you will gain some muscle and it will look lean and firm, but not bulky or manly. Women do not possess the hormonal structure to grow massive muscles. On a side note, men DO possess this hormonal structure and yet we still don’t become a massive mound of muscle overnight. In order to build large amounts of muscle naturally, it takes a lot of time, dedication and above all else a lot of FOOD. At the end of the day, if you monitor your eating, no amount of training will grow your muscles beyond the point of where you want to be. Your muscles need food to grow and if you maintain an amount of calories that is right around your daily BMR, you will maintain your current weight.
Reason 2 - Not Doing The Right Type Of Training To lose body fat, you need to MAXIMIZE the amount of calories you are burning in one day. However, you might find yourself having a very hard time accomplishing this task if exercising only 3 - 4 times a week with routines geared toward only training 1 – 2 muscle groups a day. Routines like this are used for muscle gain (hypertrophy training) so you can focus on putting more volume on the muscle to maximize its chances for growth.
If you are trying to lose weight and want to maximize your time while training, you should focus on total body training or circuit training. This type of training focuses on targeting as many muscles as possible during each session. It takes calories / energy to rebuild and repair muscle tissue so if you are breaking down your entire body, as opposed to just one or two muscle groups, you are going to burn WAY MORE CALORIES than if you were to exercise just one muscle group such a chest workout.
It would also be beneficial for you to incorporate some cardio into your weekly routine. When circuit training, you can choose to do cardio before or after your training session or on a separate day all together. Also keep in mind cardio doesn’t always have to be a grueling/intense session of running as fast as you possibly can. You can chose to do steady state cardio where you maintain a fast walk to brisk jog on an incline for 20-30 minutes or you can utilize methods like interval training where you run for 1 minute, walk for 2 minutes and repeat for 20 - 30 minutes. Just keep in mind that if you can read a book while you train, you are probably not working hard enough!
Reason 3 - Relying On Supplements To Do The Work For You. Supplements are meant to do exactly what their name implies and that is SUPPLEMENT your meal plan by filling in the gaps left in your macros from not being able to consume enough food. With that in mind, you can’t possibly know what supplements to buy if you don’t know what your daily macronutrient needs are. Therefore, the first thing you should do before you even think about buying supplements is figure out your meal plan. (See Video 2)
Once you know what your daily needs are for protein, carbs and fat you can then begin to add up all your food. By adding up the protein, carb, and fat contents of your daily food intake, you will be able to easily point out the gaps that may be hindering your results. I personally use BSN SYNTHA-6 ISOLATE (See Image 3) help fill in my protein for the day. I need to eat around 300grams a day and am only getting about 200-220 grams from my food. Thus, I drink a shake with two scoops in the morning and a shake with two scoops after my workout and I am able to supplement in my needed 100grams of protein. If you find yourself needing MORE than just a protein supplement, you can check out BSN TRUE MASS (See Image 4). This product is geared toward helping you really pack in the calories, carbs, protein and fat and is also known as a meal replacement shake.
When it comes to supplements like fat burners, keep in mind that a product like this is meant to give you an edge. It is not the cure all for losing weight. Fat burners only work if you are eating and exercising properly. In fact, if you are not eating or exercising properly, the added fat burner will most likely do much more harm than good. Once you have everything in place and you feel like you still want to try one, check out BSN Hyper Shred (See Image 5).
Tracking your food can be tough in the beginning, but if you keep at it you will find it will become second nature just like anything else. If you would like a meal plan system that can do all of the adding for you, check the SHF meal planner. You can try it for one month free if you sign up as a PLATINUM member with the promo code: FREEFITNESS.
Get on track with your weight loss goals today Nation! Train smart! #HTH