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.


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.