5 Dieting Mistakes You Must Avoid

5 Dieting Mistakes You Must Avoid

Most dieters have a pretty bad relationship with their diet. It’s the typical product of bad information and yo-yo results. For a lot of people, figuring out what to eat is a tiresome, confusing chore.

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’re making one or more of these five dieting mistakes. These common nutrition issues are the reason people fail to achieve their desired results and feel powerless to change their lives.

Your diet doesn’t have to be an awful part of your life. You can achieve sustainable results without depriving yourself until your sanity hangs in the balance.

Read on to learn about widespread dieting issues and how to fix them!

Mistake 1 Your Calories Are Too Low For Too Long

Although it’s common knowledge that eating fewer calories can help you lose body fat, some people go to extremes. Using a very low-calorie meal plan for months on end can actually do more harm than good.

Dieting creates a stressful environment for your body. Add in intense exercise and your cortisol levels could stay high for an extended period. Cortisol is a stress hormone, and one of its functions is to increase blood sugar.

Cortisol release is good for fat metabolism early in your day, but chronic cortisol release can lead to adverse health effects along with visceral fat stores in your belly. Researchers suggest that chronically elevated cortisol levels may lead to overeating, which is clearly unhelpful if you’re trying to watch your calorie intake.1

Long-term extreme diets, although good for your body composition, don’t necessarily have positive effects on your overall health.

Long-term extreme diets, although good for your body composition, don’t necessarily have positive effects on your overall health. A study published in 2013 showed that despite weight change, those on long-term low-calorie diets showed minimal improvement in fasting glucose levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol.2

In other words, study participants were lighter, but not necessarily healthier.

Suggestion

Though every situation and body is unique, it’s important to take a break from your diet to allow your body to recover from stress. I recommend a 1-2 week break after 6 weeks of maintaining an intense calorie deficit. Even short breaks in your diet can help your metabolism and improve your performance in the gym.

I’d also suggest a more moderate deficit that is less restrictive. Your pounds won’t come off as quickly, but your body will be less stressed. When your body is happier, you’ll be able to be in a caloric deficit for longer without the risks.

Mistake 2 Underestimating Your Protein Intake

Protein is essential for building and maintaining lean mass. If you’re not getting enough protein, it will be very difficult for you to put on muscle, or even keep the muscle you have.

As a personal trainer, I commonly recommend that my clients eat more protein. More often than not, my clients are surprised to find that they feel much better when they increase their protein intake.

The CDC recommends women aged 17-70 consume 49 grams of protein per day. For men in this age range, the CDC recommends 56 grams of protein. In my opinion, this is the bare minimum for anybody.

I think everyone should eat more protein than that, but if you’re training intensely and looking to pack on pretty muscle, you need to ramp it up even more.

Suggestion

Each body is different. Your exercise program, genetics, and fitness level will all influence how much protein your body needs and can use. A good rule is to take in about one gram of protein for every kilogram of bodyweight (or 2.2 pounds).

This is a solid number that works well for most situations. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, you’ll aim to consume about 70 grams of protein each day.

This number is just a starting point. If you feel like you need more or less, you can adjust the amount after a few weeks.

If you’re not sure you’re getting enough protein, here are a few tips: Protein increases satiety, which means that eating higher protein allows you to feel full longer. So, if you’re hungry an hour or two after you eat, there’s a good chance you’re not getting enough protein.

A diet rich in protein also helps to maintain lean body mass (LBM) while you lose fat.3 So while that scale number may not move, your body composition may be improving because your body fat stores are decreasing while your LBM is increasing.

Keep an eye on the mirror and make sure to take measurements and photos to check your progress.

Mistake 3 Plan jumping

It’s really easy to jump on a new diet plan, especially if your best friend is positive her diet helped her to lose 10 pounds. Although it’s tempting to try new diets, if you don’t stick to a program long enough, how do you know whether it’s working for you? Frequently changing your program will hinder your results.

Your body has a natural learning curve, even when it comes to nutrition. Diet results vary depending on your body, genetics, and the type of diet you’re doing. Some people will see results quickly and then plateau, while others see no physical results for months and then suddenly wake up with a brand-new body.

Stick with a new diet plan for 10-12 weeks before jumping ship.

Suggestion

Stick with a new diet plan for 10-12 weeks before jumping ship. You have to give your body time to adjust to new foods, a new macronutrient profile, and perhaps new meal times. If you feel like results aren’t happening fast enough, don’t forget that good things are often happening inside. It sometimes just takes a while for them to be reflected on the outside.

The only time you should switch plans more quickly—or even immediately—is if you have a bad reaction. If you get sick, gain weight, or lose weight rapidly, have an allergic reaction to some of the food, or have severe mood changes that don’t go away after a couple of weeks, you need a new plan.

Mistake 4 Believing All The Headlines

Magazine headlines, infomercials, and trendy diet books may try to entice you with promises of quick fixes and instantaneous abs.

Be wary. Anything that promises you’ll go from flab to fab in a few short days should set off alarm bells in your head. Even if these programs get you the physical results you want, those results may come at a hefty cost.

Suggestion

Your nutrition plan should heal you from the inside out, helping your mind as much as it helps your body. Stick to a simple plan that improves your mood and body composition without making you crazy.

Think of your nutrition plan as a lifestyle plan. A water-soup diet is not sustainable. Sure, you might lose some weight, but I can promise you it won’t stay lost. Choose a diet that offers you slow, consistent progress without the hunger pains.

Mistake 5 Having An “I Blew It” Mentality

Don’t panic if you aren’t on plan 100 percent of the time. Your diet shouldn’t start tomorrow because you had a frothy mocha Frappuccino for breakfast. Healthy eating is a habit that you establish along the way. It isn’t a chore you can choose not to do so long as you’re willing to take the punishment.

Treating nutrition like a chore rather than a lifestyle can lead to a bad relationship with food. Rather than taking the time to enjoy those splurges, you end up feeling guilty and ashamed that you had a treat.

Treating nutrition like a chore rather than a lifestyle can lead to a bad relationship with food.

Instead of wallowing in guilt, try to develop a good relationship with food. Eat foods that make you feel good, taste good, and do good things for your body. If you do this 80 percent of the time, those slip-ups won’t seem like such a big deal.

Avoid These 5 Weight-Loss Pitfalls!

Avoid These 5 Weight-Loss Pitfalls!

Losing weight is a challenging task for many people. After all, reaching your goals takes dedication, time, and consistency. But with mounds of information—and misinformation—floating around in magazines, videos, and marketing fads, it can become easy to lose your way. Effective, long-established methods to shed unwanted body fat can become twisted, warped, and misconstrued, and what you actually end up doing might lead you to sabotage your results without realizing it. Believe me, it happens.

If you kill it at the gym, bring sufficient intensity to your workouts, and follow a strict nutrition plan, but still don’t see results—or even worse, you gain additional body fat—you’ve likely fallen into a weight-loss pitfall. Learn how to avoid dietary disaster with these 5 tips!

PITFALL 1 DIETING IN FITS AND SPURTS

Dieting: Let’s briefly analyze the concept itself. Most people jump on the dieting bandwagon with a specific timeframe and goal in mind. The logic might go a little something like this: “If I cut carbs for six weeks, I can fit into that pair of pants,” or, “If I replace sweets with veggies for the next few months, I’ll lose those last 10 pounds in time for my high school reunion.” No matter their reason, most people have something they’re striving for and a due date for when it has to be completed.

The reality is that we all want things done now. We want everything to be fast and effortless. Whether it’s a 30-day challenge or a 90-day transformation plan, it seems that nearly every goal has a date or finite time associated with it. While a sense of urgency might initially get you off the couch and into the gym, will it dramatically change you in the long run? Probably not.

“If you regularly add caramel, creamer, and whipped topping to your coffee, try reaching for fat-free milk and nixing the sweet stuff.”
Avoid It! Make a Lifestyle Change

Breaking years of bad habits is hard and can’t be done overnight; you’re not suddenly going to ditch pizza for rice and baked chicken. The key is to slowly start making changes you can sustain and integrate into a new, healthier lifestyle. Rather than banning certain foods completely, start by utilizing healthy substitutions. For example, if you regularly add caramel, creamer, and whipped topping to your coffee, try reaching for fat-free milk and nixing the sweet stuff. While it might be difficult at first, these small changes will eventually become habits, and you’ll stop slurping down coffee that contains as many calories as a deluxe cheeseburger.

PITFALL 2 FALLING PREY TO SUPERMARKET BUZZWORDS

These days, supermarket shelves are lined with buzzwords such as organic, natural, gluten-free, farm-raised, sugar-free, and fat-free. Keep in mind that these phrases don’t mean calorie-free!

On a daily basis, people come up to me and ask why they aren’t losing weight, even if their diets consist solely of organic meats and fruit. Foods, even if they’re organic or fat-free, still contain calories.

Avoid It! Expend More Than You Eat

You can debate whether all calories are equal until you’re blue in the face, but effective fat loss really comes down to calories in versus calories out. If you’re looking to lose weight, your calorie consumption has to be less than your caloric expenditure. Basically, you have to burn more than you eat.

“While fruit is great for you, and contains high levels of natural vitamins and minerals, its sugar content can be relatively high. One cup of grapes, for example, has 23 grams of sugar per serving.”

Organic produce is better for you and your body, but it’s all the same in macros. It’s important to be aware of what you’re consuming. Take fruit, for example. While fruit is great for you, and contains high levels of natural vitamins and minerals, its sugar content can be relatively high. One cup of grapes, for example, has 23 grams of sugar per serving.1

I’m not trying to deter you from eating fruit, but here’s some food for thought: If one piece of fruit has that much sugar, a mixed fruit smoothie from your local health store is likely loaded with the sweet stuff. This can quickly add up to a calorie bomb. Eat well, but eat (and drink) portions that meet your goals.

PITFALL 3 SKIPPING BREAKFAST

“I’m trying to lose weight, so I’m not going to eat breakfast.” So goes the mentality of many dieters. Many people think starting their day fasted will allow them to burn more calories. Alas, the opposite is usually true! Because people who skip breakfast typically get hungrier later in the day, they tend to overeat at lunch and dinner.

Avoid It! Fuel Up For Your Goals

Skipping breakfast isn’t directly correlated with gaining fat, but it won’t help you reach your goals. Trading in a potential muscle-building meal for, well, nothing, can leave you feeling depleted for any upcoming workout. Your body will be running low on fuel, so you won’t have the optimal energy to lift as intensely or put the fire to stubborn body fat.

Exercising and eating well-balanced, nutritious meals are still the best ways to lose weight and keep lean muscle mass. Don’t think that skipping one meal per day will reap magic rewards. Instead, check out the Bodybuilding.com Recipe Database for breakfast recipes that will fuel your body and support your fat-burning efforts!

PITFALL 4 FEARING ALL FATS

There’s one point I can’t drive home enough: Eating fat doesn’t necessarily make you fat. However, it’s important to note that not all fats are created equal. Trans fats and excess saturated fats are bad for you because they have the potential to raise your “bad” LDL cholesterol, and may even increase your risk for heart disease.

Avoid It! Eat the Right Fats

Instead of fearing all fats, turn to monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which have the potential to lower LDL cholesterol, and may even reduce your risk of heart disease. Essential fats like omega-3 fatty acids also provide a number of benefits to your physique and performance goals, so they’re not to be missed.

While healthy fats like omega-3s and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) can help you burn fat, moderation is key. When you think about the fat you eat on a daily basis—almonds, fatty fish, oils, and seeds—you’ll see that the calories in a high-fat diet add up pretty fast. In the game of numbers, fats carry roughly nine calories per gram, so be aware of how many you consume.

PITFALL 5 SIPPING ON ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS

Today, chemists can create flavors that mimic just about anything. Chances are that new, bright green, lemon-lime-flavored soda wasn’t Mother Nature’s doing. To make your favorite snack foods “healthy,” chemicals mimicking natural sugars are used. These chemicals can often trigger you to crave more sweets later.

Beyond the gastrointestinal problems that these foods may cause us, there are other problems to consider. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered some frightening facts that should make us all swear off diet drinks and products.2 The two most alarming:

  1. Diet sodas raised the risk of diabetes more than sugar-sweetened sodas.
  2. Women who drank diet sodas consumed twice as much as those who drank sugar-sweetened sodas because of the addictive nature of artificial sweeteners.
Avoid It! Ditch the “Diet” Products

Alas, even zero-calorie colas come at a price, and none of them are a fat-loss magic bullet. Instead of trading cola for diet cola, ditch the cola entirely and stick with natural options like green tea or water, both of which can actually contribute to your fat-loss efforts! Green tea has a mild calorie-burning effect thanks to its high catechin content, while water is essential to performance and can help you feel full.

5 Mistakes Holding Back Your Gains

5 Mistakes Holding Back Your Gains

Once upon a time, when you wanted to know how to go from “twig” to “big,” you just walked up to the dude with the gnarliest branches and politely asked how he sprouted them. If you were lucky, you got a good technique tip or two. More likely, you got a duffel bag full of legends, lore, and misinformation that had been passed down for generations. Sure, Jack LaLanne used to drink buckets of raw cow blood to get huge, but if you try it you’ll end up looking more like Carrie than Ronnie.

Luckily for you, some experts who have experienced success are more open about sharing their tips and tricks. This is especially true of Chris Thompson, Jason Wheat, and Ronnie Milo. The captains of the Twinlab Muscle Militia have been there, done that, and seen the sequel. They’ve left no stone unturned in their quest for lean mass, and now they’re committed to helping every single man and woman who is ready to think and grow bigger.

“If you want to add mass, you can’t just shove everything in your pie hole and train until you puke every day,” says longtime bodybuilder Ronnie Milo. If that’s a surprise to you, then you need a Militia intervention! Overcome these all-too-common roadblocks that get in the way of muscle-building success, and you’ll earn your spot in the ranks.

Meet the Muscle Militia

Ronnie Milo

Occupation:
Sales rep, Twinlab
Athletic Goal:
Competitive bodybuilder
Favorite Supp: MVP Fuel

“I want to be proportionate, work on my weak spots, and make sure I give 100 percent in the gym.”

Jason Wheat

Occupation:
Firefighter, Florida
Athletic Goal:
Powerlifter, coming back from pec injury
Favorite Supp: Test Fuel

Roadblock 1 Hitting the ceiling too often

There’s something about the weight room that can make normal, everyday guys go crazy and act like they’re in the running for gold at the Olympics. Even if they don’t hit a PR every day, they seem more than willing to put life and limb on the line trying. They pile intensity on top of intensity, volume on top of volume, and in a matter of weeks grind themselves into the dirt.

These guys don’t last. Know who does? Guys like Chris Thompson who, at age 45, still finds time almost every day to perform the high-intensity, low-volume 30-Minute Muscle Militia Workout. Or Jason Wheat, who focuses most of his work on knocking out quality reps in the heavy-but-not-kill-yourself-heavy sweet spot.

“Most guys think that when they’re trying to add mass they need to really be tearing it off and pushing maximum weight every time they’re in the gym,” says Wheat.

“Most guys think that when they’re trying to add mass they need to really be tearing it off and pushing maximum weight every time they’re in the gym,” says Wheat. “What you really want to do to get big and maximize the release of HGH and testosterone, though, is to complete 4-6 sets of 6-12 reps at about 70 percent of your one-rep max for nearly all of the exercises you do. Stick to the big three [squat, bench, deadlift] and the gains will come.”

If that sounds too simple, then take your lead from both men. Wheat says he always keeps the 30-Minute Muscle Militia routine in his back pocket and performs it once a week, both for cardio and to shock his muscles into growth.

Roadblock 2 Not upgrading your hydration

When you switch from a sedentary lifestyle to an active one, your body’s need for food and water will go up—especially the latter. If you don’t increase the amount you drink, you will get dehydrated, and it won’t be good for your workout quality, mental clarity, or overall well-being.

You may not want to be that guy in the Zubaz pants who totes a small barrel of water around with him in the gym, but guess what? You don’t need to be. “I actually don’t carry water with me when I’m training, because I train at a fast pace,” Milo says. “If I’m a little parched, I’ll get a sip. The only time I’ll carry a gallon of water is when I’m cutting weight and drying out for a show, so that I know exactly how much I can drink.”

Don’t take this as permission to under-hydrate outside of the gym, though, especially if your goal is to add muscle. “Our muscles are made up of water. When you’re gaining, you need to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water, more than normal,” Milo says. “It will speed recovery and help flush out your body. It’s critical that you’re never dehydrated if you want to build muscle and gain mass.” He never leaves home without water. You shouldn’t either.

How do you know if you’re drinking enough? “A good rule of thumb is, if you’re peeing clear or light yellow, you’re hydrated,” says Milo. If it’s dark yellow or brown, you’re not hydrated.”

Roadblock 3 Eating for quantity, not quality

Building muscle used to be an excuse for treating your body like the bed of a dump truck waiting for a payload of fill dirt. King-size candy bars? Sure, why not. Bacon-wrapped sausage stuffed inside a bun-shaped mound of foie gras? Bring it on! The more calories the better, or so conventional wisdom said, because you first have to become a human roly-poly before shedding the fat to reveal the Adonis physique underneath.

This approach worked relatively well for some people, but it was disastrous for many, many more. They just got fat, and they never came back. You deserve better!

“You’ve made the commitment to train with everything you’ve got, and sure, you need to eat more, but those extra calories have to come from lean protein and quality carbohydrates with the right amount of healthy fats.”

“Anybody can put on fat weight,” Thompson says. “You’ve made the commitment to train with everything you’ve got, and sure, you need to eat more, but those extra calories have to come from lean protein and quality carbohydrates with the right amount of healthy fats.”

Need to know where to start? With protein, of course. “Buy the highest-quality organic, free-range and grass-fed beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs you can afford,” Thompson commands. “For extra carb calories, choose sweet potatoes, rice, oatmeal, quinoa, and other clean sources. Gaining mass isn’t an excuse to eat like shit. This isn’t the time for ice cream and pizza.”

Roadblock 4 Stacks that are too stacked

Supplements can provide a solid extra push toward your goals, but only when you take them consistently. So why don’t you? If you’re like many gym-goers, it’s because your approach is too complicated, with stacks that are unsustainably expensive and hard to keep track of.

The solution: Keep it simple, and you’ll simply keep growing—without feeling the financial pinch. Pick supplements that have been shown time and time again to work for your specific goals and to maximize your recovery between workouts.

“In between meals or when you don’t have access to real food, a whey isolate like Twinlab’s Clean Series Whey Protein Isolate should be your go-to protein source. It helps you get the protein you need to stay in a positive nitrogen balance and in an anabolic state so you can grow,” Thompson explains.

Desperately seeking size? Sub out your next jug of protein for a weight gainer, which gives you fats, carbs and protein all in one. Struggling to keep up with your intense workout regimen? Consider creatine, branched-chain amino acids, or glutamine—three bona fide recovery boosters that won’t break the bank.

Roadblock 5 A lifestyle that doesn’t match your dreams

If you want to achieve a radical transformation, you’re going to have to do a lot more than just slot a few hours a week of heavy lifting into your iCal app. Yes, you must be an iron-tossing machine hell-bent on gains when you set foot into the hallowed halls of the gym.

But as the Militia captains and the legends who came before them have proven, achieving that jaw-dropping, best-freaking-shape-of-your-life condition takes a total dedication to unsexy things like clean living, clean eating, and getting enough sleep.

You must be an iron-tossing machine hell-bent on gains when you set foot into the hallowed halls of the gym.

Don’t start crying just yet. You don’t need to live like a model or an elite athlete forever if your goal is simply to be a better you. But everyone should try it at least once for a minimum of 12 weeks. This experience is crucial to seeing what results are possible on the other side.

“Greatness never takes a break, and neither does your body when you’re trying to add mass,” says Wheat. Each day that goes by without improvement is a day lost. The choice is yours: Get better or get back in line!

5 FAT-LOSS MISTAKES YOU CAN FIX TODAY!

5 FAT-LOSS MISTAKES YOU CAN FIX TODAY!
Are you ready to flip the switch from bulking to cutting? Beat these 5 common dietary traps and burn more fat with advice from Hunter Labrada!

You walk by a mirror one day, and your heart drops when you realize your T-shirt is tight in the wrong places. You jump in the air to catch a football, and you feel a bit too much flesh moving around you. You get bigger and stronger, but unfortunately things trend primarily toward bigger. Trust me: I know the feeling!

Even if you train hard and tend to eat clean, there almost always comes a time when you have to flip the switch from “build muscle” to “burn fat.” Whether you want to lose five or 25 pounds, the most important thing is what you do—or don’t do—next.

On your way to losing weight, keep your eyes peeled for these five incredibly common fat-loss mistakes. You can fix them today and save yourself months of trouble down the road!

Mistake 1 Not eating enough

Ironically, “not eating enough” is also a common mistake people who are trying to gain weight tend to make. I include it here, however, because the first idea that usually comes to mind when you’re trying to lose fat is, well, to eat less. This logic is sound, but you need to approach it strategically. Think “precision ground strike,” not “nuclear bomb.”

As any online fit pundit will tell you, humans burn fat by consuming fewer calories than they expend in a day. But you want the size of your daily caloric deficit to be small enough that it doesn’t negatively impact your hard-earned muscle size. 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.

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.

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.

After a few weeks, you may find that a slightly greater or smaller deficit works best for you based on your body and training. The key is that you dial it in precisely—say, in increments of 100 calories—rather than make dramatic, unsustainable changes. A reasonable caloric deficit should provide your body with enough calories to still train hard and take care of your daily business.

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!

Many trainees follow their diets most of the time, only to blow it by sneaking in calorically dense snacks that aren’t on their plan. Keep in mind, if you’re adhering to rule number one and eating enough, you don’t have extra room in your daily macronutrient profile for junk—or even healthy snacks, for that matter.

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.

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. I promise, the feeling of accomplishment will taste sweeter than any treat!

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.

While juices may contain nutrients and antioxidants, they have no business being in your glass while you’re dieting.

Another big no-no is drinking sports drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade. They contain as much sugar as a soda, and the electrolytes they offer are minimal. Sports drinks companies dupe unwitting consumers into thinking they’re drinking something healthy or performance-enhancing. The calories you get from these sugary drinks are much better off being consumed in the form of lean proteins, complex carbs, or healthy fats.

Mistake 5 Not eating enough healthy fat

Back when my dad, Lee Labrada, was breaking into the world of big-time bodybuilding, you wouldn’t have seen this listed as a “mistake” on most people’s list. In those days, fat had a bad reputation, and high levels of simple carbs were generally seen as harmless. Now, we know it’s not so simple, and fat is an essential part of a healthy diet.

Healthy fats, like those provided by oily fish, nuts, fish oil, and krill oil are responsible for a litany of positive effects throughout your body. Some you can feel right away, boosting your satiety and controlling hunger levels. Others are only felt over the longer term, such as increased brain function, balanced hormones, and healthy testosterone levels, a healthier heart, improved workout recovery, and increased fat loss. Yes, that’s correct, you can increase your fat loss by consuming fats!

This seems counterintuitive to some people, who may make the mistake of limiting or completely eliminating fat from their diet when trying to lose weight. I try to include 2 tablespoons of fish oil every day in my diet, and I make room in my macros for healthy dietary fat sources. Sure, they’re calorically dense, but that just means you need to monitor and limit them—not avoid them altogether!

5 Weight-Loss Sins Everyone Makes (And How To Fix Them!)

5 Weight-Loss Sins Everyone Makes (And How To Fix Them!)
Embarking on a weight-loss journey? Don’t fear the misery of dieting. Instead, learn how to cut these 5 mistakes from your plan and make this your most successful cut yet!

When you begin losing weight—fat, not muscle!—through a combination of eating lower calories, exercising, and modifying your lifestyle, things usually start well enough. Excited about the journey ahead, you’ve got energy for days and are racking up personal achievements like you’ve hit the jackpot at life’s slot machine.

A couple of weeks in, however, one of these things usually happens:

  • The scale stops moving and you become unmotivated.
  • You do too much and you get burnt out.
  • You cut too many calories at once and eventually give the middle finger to your diet.

Weight loss doesn’t have to be this way! Quite simply, those are merely the common side effects of dieting too hard with no regard for long-term sustainability. Get out your notebook, save your weight-loss journey, and identify which of these common mistakes you should avoid!

Mistake 1 Training too much

Never is there a more appropriate instance in which the “less is more” rule of thumb applies than when dieting. From a straight calories-in, calories-out perspective, it’s very easy to be misled into thinking you must “do more” to lose weight. In this context, doing more could mean more sets, more training sessions, more workout days, more exercise selections—the list could go on forever.

In reality, training too much while in a caloric deficit is like getting a salary reduction when you can barely pay your bills. You’re going to be in trouble quickly!

When you do even more and ramp up the frequency, volume, intensity, or duration of your workouts, you compound the number of stressors your body has to shoulder.

When you’re training for weight loss, it is assumed that you are already in a caloric deficit, meaning that your body is already stressed out from inadequate calories for optimal function. When such a stressor is placed upon your body, your ability to recover between workouts and manage the stresses of daily life is compromised.

When you do even more and ramp up the frequency, volume, intensity, or duration of your workouts, you compound the number of stressors your body has to shoulder. The odds of burning out and feeling utterly miserable begin to multiply exponentially. This matters because a bad burnout is how people fall completely off the wagon and regain all of their weight.

The fix

Do the minimal amount of work, or the “minimum effective dose,” necessary to get the job done. In my book, you should lift roughly three times per week for 45-60 minutes per session. This may not seem like much, but the entire purpose of training during a fat-loss phase is to remind your muscles why they exist—and why they should stick around!—with short, intense workouts. The remainder of your time should be focused on rest and recovery, which is already somewhat compromised by a caloric deficit.

Mistake 2 Performing targeted isolation work

Targeting very specific body parts has been a long-time practice in bodybuilding circles. It makes sense to show some love to underdeveloped body parts, but there’s just one problem: When you’re eating at a deficit, you don’t have extra calories for building muscle—no extra fuel to build a bigger fire, so to speak.

Performing isolation exercises only taps into limited resources in an already taxed body. The reality is that, without a calorie surplus, you can do curls, skullcrushers, and cable crunches for days, but any measurable muscular gains in those specific areas are pretty much nil. Complete beginners or someone who is returning from a long training hiatus will be exceptions to this rule.

When cutting fat, focus on training the whole body for maintaining your current levels of strength and size.

The fix

Focus almost entirely on total-body movements that hit nearly every muscle group, including pulls, pushes, and squats.

Some examples:

  • Biceps: Pull-ups, chin-ups, and rows.
  • Triceps: Bench presses, shoulder presses, and dips.
  • Glutes: Deadlifts, squats, and hip thrusts.
  • Abs: All of the above.

Aim for 8-12 total sets of compound movements per session in the 6-12 rep range per set. Keep the isolation stuff for your muscle-building cycles. When cutting fat, focus on training the whole body for maintaining your current levels of strength and size.

Mistake 3 Doing too much cardio

Cardio often gets a bad rap, but mostly because people do too much of it. These people focus far too much on the “calories out” within the law of thermodynamics, which states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed.

Given that law, your fat-loss choices are: consume fewer calories or expend more of them. The gut response is to simply expend more calories while eating less; ergo, that would make the greatest “calories out,” right?

This seems sound, but let’s not forget what we talked about in the first point: stressors. We need to minimize them as much as possible to prevent burnout. Doing more cardio and activity in general causes a greater stress response.

The fix

Instead of upping your cardio, focus on your diet, which will require some planning and quite a bit of thought. If you have plans to step onto the stage in the near future and are already strikingly lean, cardio might be useful in this case to get rid of stubborn body fat and mobilize free fatty acids. This doesn’t apply to most folks, however, so extra cardio isn’t a requirement for the most effective fat loss.

Instead, preserve your recovery, your energy, your peace of mind, and your sanity. Plan well, eat well, and rest up.

Mistake 4 Cutting through muscle

Let’s face it: Cutting sucks. You have to closely watch your food intake, and you’ll probably be hungry a lot of the time. But the results of a good cut? Priceless. What is a good cut? One that eliminates fat and spares muscle, of course!

Given the amount of time and effort you put into building mass, treat the muscle you have earned thus far as extremely sacred. During a cutting phase, you should strive to preserve your hard-earned muscle at all costs, so don’t drop your calories too low or cardio your way through it, as many folks do.

Simply get the protein, fats, and carbs necessary to power your training.

The fix

Aim for a slight caloric deficit of 10-20 percent below your maintenance calorie level when starting your cut. There’s often no need to get fancy with things like carb backloading, ketogenesis, or protein-sparing modified fasts. Simply get the protein, fats, and carbs necessary to power your training.

Keep in mind that weight on the scale seldom reflects exactly what is happening to your body composition, so don’t obsess over getting a lower and lower number. Use the scale in conjunction with other measures—body fat, the mirror, your lifts, and more—to track your true progress. Patience, patience, patience!

Mistake 5 Cutting “too clean”

It makes sense to eat “clean” foods while trying to lose fat; not for any magical fat-loss properties of whole foods, but mainly because they are both nutritionally dense and satiating. Certainly, you will feel fuller eating the same amount of carbs from potatoes than you would from Skittles. (Sorry, Marshawn Lynch.)

However, these benefits can all backfire if your diet is far too restrictive, especially if you’re cutting over an extended period of time, like a few months.

The fix

World-renowned nutritionist Alan Aragon is famous for this excellent advice when it comes to nutrition composition on a cut: “You should aim to make your diet 80 percent whole foods you enjoy, 10 percent whole foods you don’t enjoy but you know are healthy for you, and 10 percent ‘pure junky goodness.'”

How you choose to integrate that “junky goodness” into your diet is your call. Whether it’s fitting 2-3 cookies into your macros after dinner each night or a nice pint with the buddies on a Saturday night, use your 10 percent wisely to minimize cravings and maintain dieting sanity.

Remember that heavy food restriction is a sign of an unhealthy relationship with food and can lead to uncontrollable binging episodes, which can really set back your progress and drain your morale.

The Surprising Truth About Coconut Oil

The Surprising Truth About Coconut Oil

Will coconut oil help you lose weight? If you’ve ever Googled “coconut oil,” perhaps followed by “fat loss” or “weight loss”—admit it, you know you have!—it probably seemed like an open-and-shut case. Coconut-oil makers and health journalists are hawking it as the superfood du jour to spur weight loss, and now people are even taking it as a supplement and talking about being “on coconut oil.” They’re putting it on their popcorn in place of butter, baking it into cookies, and blending it into their coffee, all in hopes of a smaller waistline.

So what’s the deal: Is this a fat or a fat-burner? Should you eat it, or should you “take it”? Here’s the unvarnished truth on unrefined coconut oil!

Myth 1 You will lose weight simply by adding coconut oil to your existing diet

To understand the origins of this idea, you need to know a few basics about fats and oils. Nearly all dietary fats and oils are made up of triglycerides containing fatty-acid chains of differing lengths. Vegetable oils and animal fats are made up of long-chained triglycerides (LCTs). Coconut oil is different in that it’s made up of 60-65 percent medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs). Your body absorbs and metabolizes the shorter chain length of MCTs much more quickly than LCTs. The result is increased energy expenditure—as compared to LCTs. MCTs also contain slightly fewer calories per gram than LCTs, at 8.3 calories per gram versus 9 calories per gram.

If you’re simply adding coconut oil to your existing diet, you’re just adding extra calories that any potential thermogenic effect won’t make up for.

Basically, MCT-rich coconut oil can temporarily boost your metabolism and has fewer calories than other fats.1 This sounds like a home run for fat loss until you remember one major catch: You must substitute the coconut oil for an equal amount of the LCTs that are already in your diet.1-4 By trading out an equal amount of LCT-rich fat for MCT-rich coconut oil, you’ll burn slightly more calories while eating slightly fewer calories. But if you’re simply adding coconut oil to your existing diet, you’re just adding extra calories that any potential thermogenic effect won’t make up for.

Your takeaway

To get any thermic or caloric advantage from coconut oil, you must swap out another fat source in your diet for an equal amount of coconut oil.

Myth 2 Coconut oil will boost your metabolism, helping you burn fat

It’s true that the rapid metabolism of MCT-rich coconut oil increases energy expenditure slightly more than other fats.1-3 But here’s the real question: Is there enough of a difference to translate to meaningful fat-loss results?

To investigate this, a team of scientists from Switzerland fed healthy men either 30 grams of LCTs, 30 grams of MCTs, or 15 grams of each spread evenly over several small meals, and they measured the thermogenic effect.4 Compared to eating all 30 grams of fat as LCTs, eating 15 grams of the fat as MCTs led to an average of 40 more calories burned in a 24-hour period. When all 30 grams were eaten as MCTs, 114 more calories were burned. To put that into context, 114 calories is about what you would get from eating nine saltine crackers.

But let’s put this further into perspective. While coconut oil has been called “the fat-burning fat,” it doesn’t have zero calories, and it’s definitely not going to act like “negative calories” in your body. Being thermogenic only means that you will burn off a fraction of the extra calories you put in your body by eating it. The net calories you gain from coconut oil still count.

Again, remember that to gain any calorie-burning advantage, the coconut oil must be swapped for an equal amount of another fat—and the dose must be huge! Coconut oil is not made entirely of MCTs. At 60-65 percent MCTs, the 15- and 30-gram dose of MCTs used in the study would correspond to about 25-50 grams of coconut oil, or between 210 and 420 calories.

Just to burn an additional 40-114 calories per day at best, you would need to eat nearly all of your day’s fat as coconut oil. Making the prospect of losing weight with coconut oil even bleaker, studies suggest that the thermic effect of MCTs is weaker in women and potentially phases out in everyone after a few weeks.1,5

Your takeaway

Even when eating a large dose of coconut oil, the thermogenic effect is extremely small. It’s also been shown to phase out after a few weeks, making any meaningful weight loss over the long term unlikely.

9.9

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* Ratings as of article’s date of publication

Myth 3 Coconut oil gets immediately used for energy rather than being stored as fat, helping you resist weight gain

If you’re looking for a source of immediate energy, coconut oil seems to make a lot of sense. Being made up mainly of MCTs, most of the fat from coconut oil is absorbed directly into the portal circulation and quickly sent to the liver to make energy. In contrast, fats made up of LCTs go through a more complex process. Once absorbed, they’re packaged into transport vehicles called chylomicrons and enter the lymphatic system, initially bypassing the liver. They make several pit stops before returning to the liver, dropping off some of the fat in adipose tissue for storage.

Unlike the long-chain fats, the majority of coconut oil is immediately turned into energy rather than being stored as body fat. This has many people believing that if they eat coconut oil, they won’t gain weight. After all, how could they if MCT-rich coconut oil can only be used for energy?

Many people believe that if they eat coconut oil, they won’t gain weight. After all, how could they if MCT-rich coconut oil can only be used for energy? Unfortunately, this logic doesn’t hold up in the real world.

Unfortunately, this logic doesn’t hold up in the real world. Why? Your diet doesn’t just consist of MCTs! You also eat lots of carbs, protein, and other fat sources. Although most of the fat in coconut oil is a great source of immediate energy that might itself not be stored as fat, it prevents other sources of energy from being used in its place.2 While your body is running on energy from MCTs, you won’t be tapping into your body’s fat stores for energy.

Your takeaway

Although MCT-rich coconut oil is a source of immediate energy that itself may not be stored as fat, it prevents other sources of energy from being used in its place. Remember that to resist weight gain, you must eat fewer calories than you burn. You can’t simply shortcut biology with nutrition trickery.

Myth 4 Coconut oil is a powerful appetite suppressant, helping you lose weight without trying

In my opinion, this is the weakest argument going for coconut oil. The power of ketones as a natural appetite suppressant is the driving force behind this myth. Ketones are created as a byproduct of the rapid metabolism of MCTs in coconut oil. They’re both a potent energy source and a messenger that tells the brain you’re full. Ketone production is also increased by very low-carb diets and is suppressed by eating carbs.2 This may be one reason why very low-carb weight-loss diets are sometimes reported to be more satiating than higher-carb, lower-fat weight-loss diets.

In theory, the release of ketones sparked by coconut oil should help curb hunger and enable you to eat fewer calories with less effort. But again, this is a pretty simplistic understanding of nutrients. In the body things are much more complex, and your calorie intake and the rest of your diet will impact the amount of ketones created from the breakdown of MCTs.

If you are on a very low-carb diet or a huge calorie deficit and replace most of your fat with coconut oil, then yes, you may experience some degree of appetite suppression from ketones. But if you’re like most people and eat a moderate-carb diet, the production of ketones will be diminished, along with their satiating effects.2 To date, there has been very little human research to support coconut oil’s appetite-suppressing effects.3,6

Takeaway for you

The power of coconut-oil-derived ketones to curb hunger is minimal when considering the rest of the average person’s diet. Unless you are very low carb, don’t expect much—if any—effect.

So Is Coconut Oil a Scam?

My goal isn’t to make you anti-coconut oil. On the contrary, I just want you to have your eyes wide open about why—and why not—to choose to put it in your pantry. To be clear, this popular fat has several big things going for it. For instance:

  • It is more resistant to spoiling than other popular cooking fats.
  • For vegans, it is an effective butter substitute in baking or sautéing.
  • It has a light, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with many dishes.
  • As discussed above, it is slightly less calorically intensive than some other fats.
  • Depending on where you get it, coconut oil is often minimally processed and more predictable than, say, soybean oil in its quality and sourcing.

In other words, coconut oil is good food. But that’s the key: It’s food! If you want to see its benefits, you’ll need to make it one of many healthy choices in your diet, rather than a magic fat-loss bullet. Anything less is just wishful thinking.