Five Common Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight

14 07 2010

Don’t sabotage yourself by making these weight loss blunders.  Read on to find out more about mistakes I often see clients make, and how to avoid them.

Skipping breakfast to save calories.

Research has shown that people who skip breakfast tend to eat more later in the day, cancelling out whatever calories they saved at breakfast.  Also, going long periods of time without eating can affect how your body handles the food you eat.  Those who eat more later in the day tend to store more body fat and have less muscle.

Not eating enough protein.

Eating protein throughout the day will help you maintain muscle as you lose weight.  Your goal should be fat loss, not just weight loss.  Protein also makes you feel full longer.  Simple protein foods to include are meat, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs, milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, nuts, or beans.

Eliminating entire categories of food (like carbohydrates).

Too many people believe they can’t eat carbohydrates.  The problem with this mindset is if you eliminate carbs then you don’t have enough energy to train optimally.  Exercising at a higher level will allow you to burn the necessary calories for fat loss.  The harder you train, the more carbohydrates you actually need.  High quality carbohydrate foods are fruits, whole grain breads, high-fiber cereals, & sweet potatoes.

Not paying attention to liquid calories.

As you are trying to lose fat, your hydration should mostly come from water.  Sports drinks are only intended to be consumed around workouts.  They should not be consumed all day long.  Juice is also very high in calories.  By avoiding these outside of exercise, you save yourself unnecessary calories.  In addition to these, alcoholic beverages add up quickly and can prevent your progress toward your fat loss goal.  Besides the extra calories, alcohol hurts weight loss in other manners.  It stimulates appetite and you mostly likely won’t choose healthy food when you are drinking.  Lastly, alcohol has a negative impact on your sleep and hydration, which in turn will make it more difficult for you to lose weight.

Trying to lose weight In-Season.

If you wait until the season starts to try to lose weight, you may be jeopardizing your performance.  By eating fewer calories than you burn, you may have less energy than necessary for workouts.  Therefore, it is best to plan ahead and make the necessary changes in the offseason.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.

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Common Mistake #3: Skipping Breakfast

2 06 2010

We’ve all heard it – breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  This saying holds true because of the length of time that you go without eating prior to breakfast.  It is called breakfast because you are “breaking a fast”.  Assuming that you get the 7-8 hours of sleep that you need, you will most likely go 10-11 hours without eating.  Your body is still burning calories while you are sleeping.  So, where are these calories coming from?  Most come from carbohydrate stores in your liver and muscle.  You will also get calories from the breakdown of muscle and a little fat.  When you wake up, you start burning more calories.  You will have used all of the carbohydrates from your liver by this point, so the process of breaking down muscle speeds up.  Eating breakfast will stop this process and start refueling and repairing muscles. But skipping breakfast sets you up for losing muscle.  In addition, by skipping breakfast, you are more likely to be overly hungry later. And thus, you are more likely to overeat at lunch and/or dinner.  “Backloading” or eating more at the end of the day than the beginning is associated with less muscle mass and higher amounts of body fat.

Another benefit of eating breakfast is increased mental awareness.  Numerous studies have examined students who regularly eat breakfast vs. those that regularly skipped this meal.  Those who ate breakfast consistently outperformed those who skipped.  These results are explained by the fact that breakfast provides fuel for the brain.  Your brain runs on glucose.  All carbohydrates that you eat are converted to glucose and absorbed into the bloodstream.  This provides the energy your brain needs.  It allows your brain to function optimally, making it easier to concentrate, comprehend, and remember what was discussed in class.

Bottom Line:  Eat breakfast daily.  Include carbohydrates (fruit, cereal, or bread) to fuel your brain and refuel your muscles.  Also include protein (eggs, milk, yogurt) to repair muscle.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.





Common Mistake #1: Recovery after training and competition is not taken seriously

24 05 2010

I would like to take the 5 mistakes mentioned in my previous post from May17th, 2010 and expand on each one.  The first mistake concerns not focusing on recovery.  One definition of recovery is returning to a normal and better condition.  For athletes, this is getting their body back to how it was prior to the training session or competition.  The quicker someone recovers, the sooner they can train or compete at an optimal level again.  What changes occur during training and competition that bodies need to recover from?

First, carbohydrates are stored in the muscle in the form of glycogen.  Your body uses this glycogen for energy during activity.  Think of this as refueling your muscles.  One analogy I hear used all the time is comparing our bodies to cars.  Think of carbohydrates as the gasoline you put in your cars.  One role of eating carbohydrates after a workout is refueling – like putting gas in a car after a long trip.  Another role of carbohydrate is limiting the damage caused by exercise.  Exercise can cause an increase in the hormone cortisol, which can lead to the breakdown of muscle.  Eating carbohydrates will decrease the amount of cortisol in our blood, thus decreasing the amount of muscle that is broken down.  Depending on the intensity and length of exercise, you should multiply your body weight by 0.4 to 1 gram to calculate the amount of carbohydrates needed.

Second, but no less important, is protein.  Our bodies also need protein after workouts and competitions to repair the damage that occurred.  Exercise puts our body in a catabolic state.  This means that our bodies are breaking down muscle.  If we don’t get the right food in after a workout, we won’t gain all the benefits from the hard work just completed.  People make the false assumption that exercise builds muscle.  Instead, it is the combination of exercise and proper fueling that stimulates our body to repair and build muscle.  The type of exercise and your body weight dictate how much protein you need.  A good target to aim for is at least 20 grams of protein.  Generally, I recommend multiplying your weight by 0.2 grams for optimal recovery.

Third, we need re-hydration.  This is simply replacing the water used during the exercise.  To know how much you should replace, you should weigh yourself in minimal clothing before and after the exercise bout.  This weight loss represents the water loss that needs to be replaced for your body to function optimally.  General guidelines are to drink 20 oz for every pound you lose.  This can be water, a sports drink to provide the necessary carbohydrates, or a drink that contains protein.

The last thing I would recommend is having some food that has anti-inflammatory properties.  This can also allow for quicker recovery.  Foods that have anti-inflammatory properties include cherries, berries, pineapple, and foods that contain Omega-3 fats (ex. salmon and walnuts).

By focusing on these four areas after workouts, you will optimally recover from your workout and see the improvements you desire.

© Randy Bird, MS, RD, CSSD, CSCS and Randy Bird Sports Nutrition, 2010.