So, most of us have been there. We want to lose a bit of wobble from the old belly or bum but don’t know how best to do it. So we embark on our own little weight loss plan, struggle with it for a few weeks and, hey presto! Oh – it’s not worked. That spare tyre is still clinging on for dear life and the little muffin top is showing no signs of leaving any time soon.
Here are some common pitfalls people fall into when trying to lose inches, why they inhibit fat loss and what you should do instead.
1. Skipping meals
Your mother probably told you that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’. Well, sorry to say it but she’s right (as mothers are most of the time but we won’t let on, hey?). Your body is essentially a machine – it needs fuel to run efficiently. If you have not re-fuelled since the previous evening, you’ll spend the morning running on empty and as a result will feel lethargic and unable to concentrate. This, of course, can lead to unhealthy snacking mid-morning as, by 10 or 11am you’ll probably be ravenous.
Research shows that skipping breakfast slows your metabolism. If you deny your body food for long periods of time, you go into ‘starvation mode’ where your body holds on to calories and slows down the burning of fat as fuel. ‘Kick start’ your metabolism by eating a healthy breakfast which will release energy slowly. Porridge, wholemeal toast and eggs are all excellent options.
2. Forgetting hidden calories
Often, we’ll count the calories in the food we eat but don’t consider the sugar and calorie content in what we drink. Alcohol, concentrated fruit juice and non-diet soft drinks are all high in calories. A can of Coke contains 139 alories, roughly the same as a bag of crisps. A 200ml glass of concentrated orange juice contains roughly 90 calories and a large glass of dry white wine can contain up to 180 calories-the same as a bag of maltesers.
Limit the booze, and stick to water to avoid these calories sneaking into your body. Lower-calorie alternatives are diet drinks or squash.
3. Quick-fixes and faddy diets
Ah, my nemesis, the quick-fix diet. The Cambridge diet, the Cabbage Soup Diet, detox diets… 3 words – don’t do it! By drastically restricting calories we’ll force our bodies into starvation mode as mentioned above and slow our metabolism long-term.
As a result of your metabolism slowing, when you start to eat normally again your body will be burining less calories at rest than before the diet, thus making your body store more fat than before you started. Not good. Instead, embark on a long-term lifestyle change changing your eating habits towards wholesome, non-processed alternatives.
Avoiding weight training
As muscle burns more calories at rest, the less muscle mass you have, the less calories you burn at rest. Many people are put off weight training as they feel it will make them bulk up. As anybody who has actively tried to bulk up will tell you, it’s actually pretty hard.
Follow a resisitance training programme twice a week and you’ll give your metabolism a boost, shape your body and be stronger, healthier and less prone to injury.