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Losing weight can often be a tricky topic. This is often the case because firstly, most people aren’t educated adequately when it comes to training and nutrition. The fact is that we are not all personal trainers and dieticians, so most of us often go on the advice of others and what worked for them.
The second problem is that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for someone else. So you need to experiment to find what works for you. That being said, there are a few common weight loss mistakes which should be avoided no matter who you are.
We all know that in order to lose weight, we need to burn more calories in the gym, so what do we do, we increase our training intensity and frequency to a maximum. While this will definitely help you to lose weight, it is also the fastest way for your metabolism to hit a wall. This is because your body is always striving to reach a state of homeostasis. For example, if you work too hard in the gym during a hypocaloric diet, your body will begin to fight back and adapting by lowering your energy expenditure. This means that your metabolism will slow down and your central nervous system will become depressed, leading to less overall fat being burned. To counter this, it is always best to slowly progress by increasing exercise duration, frequency and intensity slightly over a number of weeks.
When on a weight loss diet it is always recommended to drop carbohydrate to low proportions, however, if you cut carbs completely, you may be affecting the production of the T3 hormone. This thyroid hormone controls metabolism. A study was performed which saw individuals cut their carbohydrate intake completely for a period of 2 weeks. What researchers found was that the production of T3 declined by 47%. Not just that, the performance of the test subjects was negatively impacted because ATP production was hampered because of the lack of glycogen (produced from carbs) intake.
The lowest amount of carb ingestion per day which was shown to cause little effect on T3 production was 50 grams per day. To prevent this, make sure you have at least 2 high carb days per week which contain more than 100 grams per day and on low carb days, don’t drop lower than 50 grams of carbs per day.
When on extended periods of low calorie dieting, your leptin levels may begin to drop. Leptin is a hormone which informs the brain how much energy the body has stored (body fat) and being ingested (carbohydrate calories). When leptin levels are low, the brain signals the body to lower energy expenditure. This means that your metabolism will slow down meaning you burn fewer calories. To overcome this, make sure to have a high-calorie reefed day which consists of low fat intake and high carb intake. This will promote leptin production and keep your metabolism humming along nicely.
If you narrowing down the foods you eat, you may be missing out on a number of beneficial micronutrients. Micronutrients play a vital role in a number of bodily processes and when deficient in certain areas, you may be negatively impacting your fat loss processes. To fix this, make sure that you consume a wide variety of protein, vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes.
This is probably one of the most common mistakes made in the gym. A number of people think that you push heavy weights if you are trying to build muscle and light weights if you are trying to lose fat and tone. The problem with this is that when you are in a calorie deficit, in order to survive, your body will only keep the necessary mass. When working with light weights in this state, your body will not need to maintain a large amount of muscle mass to cope with the lightened demands place upon it. So in order to maintain as much mass as possible when eating with a calorie deficit, and to burn a greater amount of calories, you need to continue to push heavy. The caveat though is to not utilize the same volume as you previously did when trying to build muscle mass or you may risk breaking down the muscle to a greater extent than what it is able to recover from. When entering a leaning out phase, cut your total workout volume by about a 1/3 and lift loads which equate to approximately 75-80% of your 1RM.