I read today that people spend an average grand total of 17 years of their life on a diet or trying to lose weight.
As a fitness professional you would think that would be a good thing for me because the longer someone is on a diet, the longer I can hold on to them as clients.
But that is not true.
In fact most of the Bromley personal training clients that come to me with a fat loss goal get to their goal in anywhere from 12 to 48 weeks, depending on what their target is, their lifestyle and finding what works best for them.
So I have to ask, WHY do people end up spending so much of their lives on a diet when they don’t need to.
The simple fact is that as far as fat loss and overall weight loss goes, if you are burning more calories than you take in, you will lose weight.
It really is that simple.
If you think you are doing that and not losing weight, then we need to look more closely under the hood.
Stored body fat is basically stored energy and unless you have reached the next evolutionary step where your skin cells absorb energy from the sun or something like that, if you’re not losing weight then you’re either not burning as many calories as you think you are or you’re eating more than you think you are.
So let’s look at the common issues that might come up.
Have you ever been through phases where you stick to a diet or nutritional plan 100% during the week and then don’t bother counting on the weekends because you think you’ve earned a treat?
Well let’s imagine youwere burning 1800 calories a day on average a week.
That is 12,600 calories in a week.
Now let’s say you were eating 1500 calories a day during the week (Monday to Friday) and then on the weekend you were busy with the kids, ate out once or twice, had a decent amount of alcohol (it is the weekend after all!).
Well all those calories add up. Let’s say you ended up around 2600 calories a day on the weekend, which is probably a bit on the low side.
During the week you will have had 7500 calories total (1500 x 5), and on the weekend you will have had 5200 in total. That comes to a total of 12,700 calories.
That is MORE than you’re burning off so your weekend indulgences are undoing all the hard work you’re putting in during the week and if anything, you’re more likely to gain weight as a result.
It would be better to set a calorie target for the week as a whole – in this case, averaging 1600-1700 calories a day, and give yourself 5% leeway either side on a day to day basis.
If you are eating a bit more during the week, you’re less likely to indulge on the weekend and will keep better control of your overall calories.
Ok this is a technical one.
Having a slow metabolism can make it harder to lose weight, as you’re burning less calories throughout the day.
In some cases it may be genuine medical issue causing it.
In some cases it might be a history of crash dieting, generally restrictive eating over a long period of time and a lack of lean muscle tissue causing it.
In any case, all this means is the bar is set a little bit lower for you and if you are trying to lose weight then eating a bit less will get you there.
HOWEVER – if it is from a history of going to extremes to try to lose weight, I think it’s important to start gradually eating a little bit more nutritious food, adding some resistance training and giving yourself some lean muscle tissue to get yourself a bit of a reset for future fat loss efforts.
If you have a genuine, medically diagnosed thyroid problem, this will affect your body’s ability to burn calories, meaning it can be very challenging and progress will be slow to do it safely without dropping calories too low.
If you think you do, then go see a doctor.
If you relied entirely on Dr Google, and decided to diagnose it yourself then that is *probably* not what is causing your weight loss to stall.
Hormones can play a lot of roles in the body and impact your metabolism, activity levels and how many calories you burn.
And YES it is true that hormones can cause your body to store a bit more fat.
for that to happen, you would need to be over eating in the first place.
This goes back to what I said before – if you are taking in less than you are burning, then your body will be relying on stored energy for fuel and you CANNOT magically create energy out of nothing that will cause you to store more fat.
Yes, you can gain WEIGHT through hormone fluctuations, but this will usually be water weight and not fat storage.
Same as above – no food intolerances are causing your body to store fat. They can cause weight fluctuations, they can impact your overall health and wellbeing as well as your moods and they can have a large impact on your day to day life and eating habits.
But they cannot make you create energy out of nothing, so thay cannot make you put on fat – IF you are still in a calorie deficit.
If you have a genuine food intolerance, then the amount of thought and planning you have to put into your food choices means you’re well positioned to look after your nutrition, and are therefore probably also less likely to gain excessive body fat.
This is a controversial one. There are several medications out there, each backed by studies, which say that weight gain is a possible side effect.
Without wanting to question all of these studies, I still need to ask, what mechanism – what processes are going on in the body specifically – that can cause fat gain specifically?
Medication can cause fluid retention, mood fluctuations, feelings of lethargy and drowziness, reduce your activity levels and have plenty of other less than desirable side effects.
But again – can they create stored energy within you out of nothing? Probably not.
You can’t out-exercise a consistently poor diet, but if you are active and burning enough calories on a day to day basis, you can at least make things easier for yourself.
The more calories you are burning, the more room you have to play with – so you can eat a bit more, enjoy yourself a bit more without needing to worry about fat gain.
If you are tracking your activity, are you tracking this accurately or are you over estimating the calories you think you’re burning?
This is probably the SINGLE MOST LIKELY cause of you not getting the fat loss results you want.
Do you actually know how many calories a day you’re getting in? Are you accurate?
Are you counting all the alcohol, all the calories from drinks?
Are you counting all the BLT’s (that’s bites, licks and tastes by the way – all those tiny bits of picking here and there do add up!)
Are you being consistent with your tracking?
The simple fact is if you know what you’re getting in, you give yourself the best chance possible of knowing what you need to change to get the results you want.
So What Next?
If you’re serious about dropping body fat and not sure how to get started, feel free to apply for one of our free body transformation sessions at our Bromley personal training studio in Chislehurst, Kent.
It could be the single most important thing you do for your health & fitness!