Being able to lose weight consistently is probably the biggest struggle people face on a daily basis.
When I get a new client come to me or someone sends me a message on facebook they always ask “how do I lose belly fat? I eat healthily but I just can’t seem to shift it.”
When I start to take a close look at what they’re eating I find the same problems come up again and again. I realised a lot of people experience this so I wanted to make a blog post and explain why you can’t lose weight and what to do about it.
You don’t track your food
Do you know what you ate on the weekend?
You can probably recall one or two things but I bet you can’t tell me exactly what you ate for breakfast, lunch, dinner, that sneaky dessert you had and the snacks you picked at during the day. Humans have a pretty poor memory when it comes to trying to recall exactly what we eat and that’s a big problem. We “think” we are eating healthy a lot of the time and we remember the healthy lunch we had on Thursday last week. Then we forget about the few slices of cake that was brought in on Wednesday and then the work lunch on Friday where you went out for pizza and beers.
These might seem like a few small things here and there but those “small things” add up pretty quickly and will have a big impact as to why you’re not losing weight.
How To Fix It
Start tracking your food for the next four weeks.
Download the app called myfitnesspal and enter in every single food you eat from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. This includes the weekend breakfasts, those “few” pieces of chocolate you have during the week at work and all of the drinks you and your buddies have. These all contain calories and just because you don’t track them doesn’t mean that you didn’t consume them.
Once you start to track how much food you’re actually eating you’re going to become aware pretty quickly that you’re more than likely eating a lot more calories than you thought you are.
You restrict yourself too much
- 2 tbsps of yoghurt with a cup of berries for breakfast
- 1/2 chicken breast and a salad made up of lettuce, tomato and cucumber with no dressing for lunch
- 100g of steak with steamed green vegetables for dinner
That’s what a typical day looks like for you. You’re eating so little because you want to lose weight quickly and you can only maintain it for so long.
At first, you see some progress a few kilos drop on the scale and you’re feeling good. After a week two, it starts to get hard, you notice your energy levels are low, you’re getting brain fog and your stomach is growling.
You come home from a hard day at work and you’re hungry. You have your boring dinner but it doesn’t seem to hit the spot. You decide to open your fridge to see if there’s something else you can have.
You find a block of chocolate staring at you and you think“just one piece won’t hurt”. You grab a piece of chocolate pop it in your mouth and start to walk away. “Wow, that tastes so good”. You walk back to the fridge to grab one more square, just one. Then that one turns into the whole block.
You’re still not satisfied.
You open the pantry and there’s a bag of chips, you rip it open like a madman and scoff them down as fast as you can.
You’re still not satisfied.
You start searching for more and more food to cure that hunger, eventually, you stop. You’re standing in the kitchen, you feel guilty, you hate yourself for “being weak”. You’re laying in bed and tell yourself you’re getting right back on track tomorrow.
Maybe you last for a day or two and then you binge again and you’ve now gotten into a cycle where you restrict then binge, restrict then binge over and over again and your weight stops dropping or worse it starts to creep back up.
How To Fix It
You should never severely cut calories because you want to “lose weight fast”, you need to be able to consistently maintain steady weight loss over time so that you can actually see the results you want.
Eating 800 calories a day when you should be eating 2000 calories is what causes the above scenario to happen. What you need to do instead is to eat 10% less than you burn and stick to that number. This is going to keep you sane during the week because you’re able to eat more food and you’re not feeling so restricted.
What I suggest is that you calculate how many calories you’re burning on a daily basis, I like to use this https://www.precisionnutrition.com/weight-loss-calculator and then you track your food like suggested above to make sure you’re eating that much.
I also suggest you have a treat meal occasionally and this is where the 80/20 principle comes into play. If you’re eating 2000 calories a day, 1600 calories should come from whole nutritious foods (meats, vegetables etc). You’ve then got 200–400 calories leftover where you can have something you enjoy. That might be going out for a gelato on the weekend or having two drinks a night, it doesn’t matter what it is but when you’re able to track your food and know that you’re still eating less than you burn while being able to eat something “naughty” your compliance with sticking to your diet will be dramatically higher.
- Download myfitnesspal and start tracking your food
- Use the calorie counter from precision nutrition to determine how much food you need to be eating daily in order to consistently lose weight
- Follow the 80/20 approach when it comes to “healthy vs unhealthy foods”