Whether you want to lose five or fifty pounds, these 6 things should be avoided if you want to shred body fat.
Let’s get right into them.
1. Training WAAAYYY Too Much
In a mad dash to try and lose body fat, some will just go HAM with the physical activity to burn more calories.
This seems like a good idea, right?
Just lift more. Just do more cardio. Just get more NEAT (calories burned from non-exercise activity) in. JUST DO MORE DAMN IT!
Now I’ll never bash anyone for trying to make positive changes. I’ve been here myself, and I know that the heart is in the right place.
But there are three things wrong with this approach:
ONE: FAT LOSS IS MOSTLY DIET
How much you eat, how you eat, what you eat, when you eat, and yes, why you eat, mostly determines your body fat levels.
You see, you can eat a lot of calories in a little amount of time.
But burning calories is much harder.
Even the most intense physical activity can’t hold a candle to uncontrolled eating.
You just can’t out-lift, out-run, or out-anything a bad diet.
TWO: TRAINING IS A STRESS
There’s this little thing called over-training (or under-recovering) that further make this approach a bad idea.
You see, training, like everything else in life, is a stress. The more stress you take on, the more recovery time you need to keep things in balance.
You see, if you’re not recovering properly (i.e. you’re over-training and under-recovering), you will burn out, mess up your hormones (e.g. more Cortisol and less Testosterone), impair your immune function, collect some nasty overuse injuries, and feel lethargic and weak all the time.
AND THREE: TRAINING STIMULATES APPETITE
You just won’t get off scot-free by training more. Your body is smarter than that.
If you train more, you will indeed eat more.
It’s your bodies way of compensating for all the energy used.
Your body likes to stay in balance, and your body does what it needs to do to keep this balance… including making you hungry as all hell when you train excessively.
So to sum up: the “just do more” approach is bad all-around.
But what can we do here?
TRAIN HARD, but know that fat loss is going to be mostly diet, training is a stress, and that training too much will actually stimulate appetite.
In other words: find your training sweet spot and stick to it.
2. Not Eating Enough Protein
Skipping protein is a one-way ticket to Hungerville and Overeating City.
Not only is protein the building block of muscle (and better body composition), but it also keeps you fuller for longer.
Packing your meals full of protein will also make it easier for you to say NO to liquid calories and processed snacks (more on these below).
You see, protein takes a lot of time to break down and digest. It also takes more energy to break down and use (it has more of a thermic effect) .
Protein gives you a lot of bang for your buck, making getting and staying lean much easier.
3. Drinking Lots of Liquid Calories
Let’s flip this on its head: if you wanna pack on the pounds fast, drink a lot of pop, juice, and energy drinks.
These drinks are chocked full of calories, and even worse, they do nothing to keep you full.
You can easily drink 2-3 servings of liquid calories per hour, which can add up to over an extra 1,000 calories a day. Over the course of a year this could mean pounds and pounds of pure fat on your body. Kind of the opposite of what we’re after, eh?
Cut liquid calories as much as possible, ideally down to just drinking water. If plain water is too boring for you, try natural flavorings and/or sweeteners. Your abs will thank you.
4. Constantly Snacking on Processed Foods
Let’s flip it again: if you’re looking to gain fat fast, mindlessly snack on processed foods all day.
Like liquid calories, junk food snacking calories add up FAST, and they offer little in the form of satiety. Before you know it you could have eaten over an extra 1,000 calories… and have the belly fat to show for it.
If you get hungry between meals, you may be eating the wrong food at those meals (see point about protein above).
But if you are eating the right foods and you still get hungry, reach for something better like fruit, nuts, or good protein bars.
Also, you just may have to get comfortable being a little hungry, and just wait it out until your next meal.
Okay, let’s get back to it…
5. Getting No Sleep or Bad Sleep
Sleep is crucially important for just about every function, including shredding body fat.
Skimping on sleep screws up your hormones, most notably causing your Cortisol to skyrocket while making your Testosterone and Growth Hormone plummet.
Shorter sleep duration is associated with decreased Leptin (Leptin signals satiety), increased Ghrelin (Ghrelin increases appetite), and increased Body Mass Index (BMI) .
This means you’ll be hungrier throughout the day and more likely to reach for junk. I’ve noticed this before. After a bad nights sleep I’m much hungrier, much more prone to cravings, and much less likely to say no.
Sleep is important… make it a priority.
Ways to get better sleep:
- Get to bed and wake up at the same times every night and morning.
- Ditch electronic devices 1-2 hours before bed.
- Keep your room cool and as dark as possible.
- Cut stimulants 8-12 hours before bed time.
6. Living an Excessively Stressful Lifestyle
Most don’t really pay heed to stress (or it’s worn like a badge of honor), but chronic excessive stress will kill your physique (and everything else, really).
Like bad sleep, excessive stress raises Cortisol levels, while also pillaging Testosterone and other anabolic hormones.
The deleterious effect of chronic excessive stress is real… meaning that if you want to get and stay lean, stress will need to be managed like a problem employee.
Ways to manage stress:
- Say no (don’t have too much on your plate).
- Take control of your breathing.
- Get social.
- Keep journal.
And there you have it.
Now, am I saying that you should NEVER, EVER, EVER do the above things or let them affect you in any way?
No. I know that in real life nothing is ever perfect. You’ll have energy drinks and candy bars. You’ll get bad nights of sleep and have stressful days. You’ll train too much (or too little). Every meal won’t be protein packed.
BUT success comes with effort and actually trying. It’s not about becoming perfect, it’s about becoming better.
Do your best to get the closest to where you want to be in manageable steps.
That’s all you can do.
- Veldhorst M, Smeets A, Soenen S, Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Hursel R, Diepvens K, Lejeune M, Luscombe-Marsh N, Westerterp-Plantenga M, May 23, 2008. Protein-Induced Satiety: Effects and Mechanisms of Different Proteins | Physiology & Behavior
- Shahrad Taheri, Ling Lin, Diane Austin, Terry Young, Emmanuel Mignot, Philippe Froguel (academic editor), December 7, 2004. Short Sleep Duration Is Associated with Reduced Leptin, Elevated Ghrelin, and Increased Body Mass Index | PLOS Medicine