Totally lost as you why you're still not losing weight? It may be that you're making one of these diet mistakes. Here's how to fix it...
We've both seen the statistics showing the incredibly high failure rates of successful dieting.
I've seen failure rates as high as 60%, 75%, 80%...
Heck, one of the most popular statistics thrown around is 95%...
NINETY-FIVE FREAKING PERCENT of dieters fail in their pursuits?
That seem's absolutely absurd, doesn't it?
More recent studies show that—although not in the 95% range—the vast majority of dieters end up gaining all or more of their weight back after dieting. (source)
Here’s what I find interesting…
The people I talk with online and at the gym have a relatively good understanding of what it takes to start losing weight.
They know they should eat more fruits and veggies, eat more protein, consume fewer processed junk foods and drinks, exercise more, yadda yadda yadda....
But there are a handful of fundamental components to losing weight that they deem as being unimportant or don't realize are crucial to every successful weight loss plan!
In this article, I'm going to go over the detrimental diet mistakes I see people making that are keeping them from leaning down and achieving their weight loss goals...
Just telling you about them wouldn't be much help though, would it?
That's why I'll ALSO show how to fix these mistakes and create a plan that'll help you drop weight and keep it off for good!
5 Diet Mistakes Keeping You From Losing Weight
What follows are 5 of the most common mistakes I see people making with their nutrition and exercise plan.
If you've been struggling to lose weight, or can't seem to keep the weight you do lose off, then make sure you're not making one of these dieting blunders...
1. You're Only Focused on Eating "Healthy"
"Avocados are healthy... DOUBLE GUAC PLEASE!"
Overfocusing on food quality is, by far, one of the biggest diet-related errors I see.
You see, when most people start losing weight, the first thing they do is zero in on quality and making healthy swaps in their diet.
They swap white bread for wheat bread....
Cereal for oatmeal...
Candy bars for protein bars...
Potato chips for pretzel sticks...
Now don't get me wrong. Eating more whole foods (fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc.) and less junk is going to improve your overall health and provide more vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
But when weight loss is the primary goal, eating "clean" isn't what's most important...
Instead, what matters most is your TOTAL calorie intake.
Take this comparison of two different types of bread:
Without looking at the nutrition labels, most of us would assume the white bread is fattening, and the whole wheat bread would be the better choice for weight loss...
But if you compared the nutrition labels, you'll see that the wheat bread has DOUBLE the calories compared to the "unhealthy" white bread.
This high-calorie shock effect happens with other "healthy" foods too...
- A small serving of nuts (1 oz) is ~160 calories
- A medium avocado is ~ 250 calories
- One tablespoon of almond butter is ~210 calories
Don't take me wrong... these foods are still nutritious.
But they can also add a ton of extra calories to your diet, especially if you aren't monitoring your portion sizes.
Here's your takeaway:
It doesn't matter how "healthy" or "clean" your diet is. If you consume too many calories, you'll won't lose weight.
I still advise making the majority of your diet come from whole & nutritious foods, but ensure you're ALSO eating few enough calories to create the energy deficit needed for weight loss.
2. You're Not Tracking Accurately
Food tracking and calorie counting are two of the best ways to guarantee you're consistently eating in a calorie deficit. It's the method of dieting I've used for myself and use for the majority of my online coaching clients.
But HOW you track is just as important as actually logging your food intake.
If you rely on guessing and eyeball estimations alone to figure out proper portions, then there's going to be an unavoidable measure of uncertainty around what you're logging...
That half-ish a muffin you tracked turns out to be 3/4ths a muffin (difference of ~75 calories). That tablespoon or so of peanut butter was actually 1.5 tablespoons (difference of ~50 calories).
One or two slips like this may not do much harm...
But do this 4, 5, or 6+ times a day, and you could end up taking in an additional 300-500+ calories without realizing it!
That's why along with tracking, I'm a big fan of using a food scale.
Why? Because they're cheap, and they guarantee 100% accuracy for measuring exact servings sizes. In fact, I believe that a food scale is THE best investment you can make for your weight loss success and long-term health.
Now, you may be thinking that a food scale seems a bit obsessive. I know because I thought the same thing when I was starting out...
But after a few months of using it, I found that using a food scale made my diet LESS strict, LESS obsessive, LESS stressful, and MORE effective!
Which diet plan sounds more strict and obsessive to you:
a) One that DOESN'T involve tracking and weighing...
But demonizes certain foods (like bread and pasta) as being "bad" and "fattening," restricts your food choices to a short list of "healthy" foods, and makes dining out and sticking to your diet impossible...
b) One that DOES involve tracking and weighing...
But doesn't restrict your food choices, won't demonize or praise a particular food based on some preconceived idea, and makes dining out while dieting easy-peasy (as long as you plan, use moderation, and practice portion control)...
I don't know about you, but option b seems like the clear and obvious winner.
Here's what I think: If I can lose weight eating whatever foods I want, and the cost is spending an extra 10-15 minutes a day weighing out portions and logging my food in a digital journey, so be it.
It's a million and one times better than feeling overly restricted and incorrectly labeling foods as being "good" and "bad."
Plus, after using a food scale for a few months, you'll have gained experience that makes it much easier to guess and eyeball proper portion sizes accurately.
Heck, I've been doing it for so long that I often feel like Neo in the Matrix...
Now when I look at a plate of food, all I see are various numbers scrolling down showing different macronutrient amounts, grams of food weight, and the number of servings sizes...
Here's your takeaway:
If you do decide to count calories and track your food intake, you should ALSO be using a food scale to be certain what you're logging is accurate.
If you guess, you may end up taking in more calories than you think and struggle to lose weight.
3. You're Not Eating Enough (and for too long)
Most of us tend to make one of the first two diet mistakes and unknowingly take in more calories than we realize...
But the opposite end of the diet spectrum—taking in too few calories—is just as bad, if not worse for achieving your weight loss goals.
You see, just because YOU want to lose weight doesn’t mean your body does…
To your body, sudden weight loss is a sign there may be a shortage of food or famine. As a result, it starts taking steps to make sure you don’t… well… die!
One way your body responds is by downregulating various metabolic processes.
Your body is trying to get Calories Out to match your Calories In—which is why extreme and long-term dieting leads to increased hunger, cravings, laziness, and feeling lethargic.
It's your body's way of saying:
"Eat MORE and move LESS! Don't you go dying on me!"
Another side effect of eating too little food is muscle loss.
Muscle is incredibly important for our health, especially as we age. The problem, though, is that it's very metabolically expensive—meaning it costs a lot of energy to maintain.
This is great when you're trying to lose weight or maintain your weight. More muscle means a faster metabolism!
But when you're in a chronic state of dieting—or eating extremely low in calories—your body eventually reaches a point where it can't afford the high "metabolic cost" of extra muscle and does away with it...
The result is a slower metabolism, which makes losing weight and maintaining a healthy body a constant fight and annoyance.
The solution? Create a moderate calorie deficit and take diet breaks from time to time.
I define a moderate deficit as being 20-25% below your calorie maintenance.
(Don't know your calorie maintenance? CLICK HERE to use a tool that'll help get you in the ballpark.)
You should also be taking occasional diet breaks. There are two ways to do this:
- Once a week (or ever 7-14 days) have a "cheat meal" that puts you 500-700 calories over your regular target.
- Every 6-8 weeks, take a week or two off from dieting and eat at maintenance calories to allow your body to recover before jumping back into a deficit.
Want to know the TRUTH about cheat meals and losing fat?
Here's your takeaway:
Avoid prolonged and/or extreme low-calorie dieting.
It might work at first, but you'll likely lose muscle and end up slowing down your metabolism...
Stick to a moderate calorie deficit (20-25%), have a controlled cheat meal every 7-14 days, and take a full week off from dieting every 6-8 weeks.
4. You're Too Focused On Cardio
I've written about my opinion on cardio before in a separate article.
The reality is that cardio isn't as effective for losing weight as most people think.
Studies have shown time and time again that cardio alone isn't a solution for losing weight. People tend to burn fewer calories than they think, and some folks actually replace the calories they burn by eating more and moving less the rest of the day! (source)
Now don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying you SHOULDN'T do cardio if you enjoy it....
But if you're like me and would rather stick hot needles in your eyes than run a 5k, then take solace in the fact that hours of daily cardio is NOT necessary to lose weight.
What matters the most is your diet.
Here's your takeaway:
Cardio can help you burn a few hundred extra calories, but it's not a solution for losing weight.
If you enjoy cardio, do it. But know it's not required. Dialing in your diet is far more important for long-term weight loss results.
5. You're Too Focused On Diet
"Woohoo! Carter said I don't have to do cardio! Now I'll just focus on dieting, and I'll be lean in no time!"
Not so fast there my over-enthusiastic hypothetical reader friend...
Just because I said you don't have to do cardio does NOT mean you should skip exercise entirely.
Remember when I talked about our bodies "adapting" and slowing our metabolism while dieting?
Well, one way it does this is by trying to make us move less...
By not exercising, you're basically encouraging your body to slow down its metabolism. It's like handing your house keys over to the guy trying to rob you.
Exercise's role in weight loss
You see, while exercise isn't great for losing weight, it does control the type of weight you lose...
Diet alone will help you lose weight, but without exercise, you'll lose more than just fat—you'll also end up losing weight from lean muscle mass.
We've already talked about why losing muscle is bad. Without it, our metabolism goes straight down the crapper...
So the best way to ensure you lose fat and NOT muscle while dieting? Utilize muscle building exercises like strength training and lifting weights.
Similar to cardio, resistance exercise burns calories in the act, but it goes one step further by building lean muscle and speeding up your metabolism in the long run.
Here's Your Takeaway:
You can lose weight with diet alone, but the weight you lose will come from both fat and muscle. Exercising (spececifically strength training) will actually BUILD muscle and improve your metabolic health.
Final Thoughts & Suggestions
Obviously, there are more diet mistakes out there, but I believe these five are the most common, and getting them straightened out will help the vast majority of struggling dieters.
(if none of these diet mistakes applied to you, and you're still stumped, shoot me an email and I'll try to help you figure out what's causing you grief 🙂)
Want Some Help Getting Started on Your Journey?
It's one thing to know about these mistakes, but knowing isn't going to make a lick of difference to your weight loss results...
You also need to APPLY your knowledge if you want to see noticable changes to your body and health.
That's why I created a my free course, Fat Loss Forever.
I designed Fat Loss Forever with the specific goal of eliminating the common mistakes I've written about in this article and outlining a plan for getting started down the right path.
This free 14-day fat loss course will teach you everything you need to know about diet and exercise to lose fat and keep it off once and for all.
If you're interested, click the button below to enroll instantly (and for free 😉).