Albert Einstein once said ‘out of clutter, find simplicity.’ With life-style related disease continuing to rise in this country, more and more gizmos and gadgets are coming out to try and help people trim their waistline. To go along with these devices are self-proclaimed health experts whose opinions on all things fitness tend to clash more harshly than that of debating politicians.
Yet, out all these gimmicks and trends you can find some of the most simple and effective ways to lose weight and get in the shape you want. The problem is that this stuff is so relatively simple that most people actually do not believe me when I instruct them on the basics of weight loss – after all, with nearly three quarters of the country overweight, how in the world could it be that easy?
Well, believe it or not, it is. People were healthy and in shape long before treadmills and diet books were all the rage. The only thing stopping most from getting in shape is that they allow their health to take a backseat. You do have to prioritize your exercise and nutrition regimen in order for them to be effective. No, that doesn’t mean you schedule your day around you workout, but you do have to make educated choices about the food you buy and some of the things you do with your free time.
So, without any further ado, let’s look at some of the more common weight loss mistakes.
1. Strict Calorie Restriction
Do you want to be hungry all the time? Do you long to feel tired, fatigued, and cranky because you keep depriving your body of food? If so, then calorie restriction is for you. Otherwise, if you want to have energy and get in shape, then you need to eat appropriately to your current lifestyle. Too many people restrict calories and under-eat; often to the point of where they affect their metabolism.
Your metabolism actually mimics calorie consumption. Consume too few calories and you’ll end up losing muscle mass, slowing down your metabolism, and lowering thyroid function (1). Cutting out calories actually enhances the activity of what we call lipogenic enzymes; which are the enzymes in the body that help store fat (2). See, when you reduce the amount of food you eat your body basically things it’s starving and counters this by storing, as fat, most of what you eat.
2. Counting Calories
If you spend time counting calories (that you burn and take in) then you’re wasting time. All calories are not created equal; the fat in olive oil is not the same found in salmon. Yes, both are good for you, but excessive intake of one can lead to inflammation and blood vessel constriction. The same can be said for carbohydrates and protein. No two foods are identical so trying to base everything off of a number approach is flawed. Instead, you want to shift your focus to….
3. The Hormones
Your hormones are the gate keepers to everything that happens in the body. For instance, if you’re doing things that suppress growth and thyroid hormone function (two hormones that help us burn fat), then you’ll never get in shape no matter how hard you try. Counting calories is a waste of time if you’re not taking into consideration how the food will impact your hormones. Many people eat a lot of processed foods. Food processing is so popular that even people who claim they never eat processed food eat a lot of it and are unaware that they are. Processed food can throw your insulin a curve-ball and mess with blood sugar levels – a sure way to gain weight and even bring on disease.
The following is by no means a complete list of all the things that can have a negative impact on your body’s hormonal control:
-Lack of protein in the diet
-Irregular sleep habits
-A diet heavy in processed foods
-Heavy refined sugar and artificial sweetener use
-Unsure of how intensely to exercise
4. Exercise that Takes Too Long
People tend to forget that exercise is a stressor to the body. Too much of it, and the body begins to break down. This breaking down can increase the stress hormone response from your body and cause quite a few roadblocks with weight loss. In many cases, less is more and things tend to work best if you can keep your workouts under 50 minutes. The more frequently and longer you train, the more you need to focus on diet and recovery. A research study done with competitive collegiate rowers can show this. With workouts that were two hours long, it only took two weeks for athletes to start have a decline in testosterone and an increase in cortisol (3). This is a bad combination for any college aged men let alone a superior athlete.
These are common mistakes that people are making each day. At our cellular level, these things can be quite complex, but you can avoid all that with pretty simple tactics. Eating a whole food diet is a must; the foods you eat need to be as close to their natural state as possible. Make sure you get adequate sleep and simply follow an exercise program 4 days out of the week (with each workout being just under 60 minutes). It’s as simple as that.
1. Beradi, John. The Metabolism Advantage. United States: Rodale. 2006; pp 116
2. Chek, Paul. How to Eat, Move, and Be Healthy. San Diego: Chek Institute Publication. 2004,pp 209
3. Jurimae, J., Jurimae, T., et al. “Behavior of Testosterone and Cortisol During an Intensity Controlled High Volume Training Period Measured by a Training Task-Specific Test in Men Rowers.” Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 23.2 (2009):645-651