In a perfect world, everyone would be lean, tone, muscular, athletic, and so on and so forth. Let’s face facts people – the less fat we have, the better we look, and the happier we are. There are those “activist” types out there that will say shit like “as long as you’re happy it doesn’t matter what you look like blah blah blah…” Duly noted. The fact of the matter is, not one sane person residing on planet Earth, will argue the fact that a toned body with minimal body fat, doesn’t look better than a body with unsightly fat on it. Not to offend anyone, but get real, people! Anyhow, our purpose here is not to mock the people that claim being overweight and out of shape is ok as long as you’re happy, but rather to touch upon a few common mistakes most people (men and women alike) make or run into when on the quest for their dream physiques…
What Are We Doing?!
When we are starting out with a new diet / exercise routine, we are considered novices, or “noobs.” The great thing about being a noob is that you get results lightning fast! There is a flip side, however. When getting more and more advanced, seeing results starts to get a little tougher, and many tweaks need to be implemented in order to continue getting those results that you bust your ass for. With the plethora of information floating around the interwebs, and the self proclaimed “gurus” trying to fill your head with hogwash, it’s pretty damn easy to get confused and befuddled with which “diet” to implement, or which “routine” to use in the gym. There might as well be millions of tried-and-true methods of the latter, as well as bullshit-waste-of-time methods. What we wanna do here, is touch on a few biggies, which we uncovered in a cool little slideshow / article from MuscleAndFitness.com. When going through our article, you’re bound to get the “oh shit I gotta stop doing that” vibe, and that’s why we’re here – to TEACH! Here we go…
Increasing Activity Level Improperly
One of the fastest ways for your metabolism to hit a wall is increasing your activity level indiscriminately in the gym while on a fat loss diet. This is because your body has several mechanisms in place to try to maintain its current state. When you push too hard (i.e. cardio twice a day) during a hypocaloric diet, the body fights back and adapts by lowering your energy expenditure. This means a depressed metabolism and sluggish central nervous system output, which means less fat burned overall.
^^ Probably the number one thing affecting most gym rat’s results: DOING TOO MUCH TOO QUICK! The human body does not work that way unfortunately, folks. When stressed and shocked, the body has one goal: get back to square one! We have to carefully and systematically “fool” our bodies into getting the results we want and need. It’s not as easy as simply lift weights – eat good food – be Adonis. There are many different internal mechanisms and systems within (ie Nervous System, Immune System, etc etc) that need to be attended to, to get optimal, HEALTHY results!
SOLUTION: Simple – be gradual! Start slow, and increase consistently. Don’t do too much all at once, or you’re body systems will slowly shut down and want to keep you from getting to where you want to go…
Low Carb Diets
No, no… we are NOT against low carb diets, but we ARE, however, against 0 carb diets. That is pure tomfoolery, and we don’t condone it here! Why?
Studies have shown that dietary carbohydrates are an important factor in the levels of T3, a thyroid hormone that controls metabolism. Studies where subjects consumed zero carbohydrates for two weeks resulted in a 47% decline in their metabolism. In addition, performance in the gym can and will be negatively impacted because glycogen is part of what’s used in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the energy currency of the body. Along the same lines, 120-130 grams of carbohydrates per day has been shown to help maintain a healthy amount of T3s. The lowest amount of carbohydrates that has been shown to cause little change in the levels of T3 was shown to be 50 grams.
If you don’t feel like reading the above, it translates to this: don’t go under 50 grams of carbs per day when low-carb-dieting, and ideally, stay around 120-130 grams of carbs.
SOLUTION: Easy – stop eliminating all carbs from your diet. We need carbs to maintain a healthy body and healthy glycogen stores for proper energy in the gym. Don’t go too low, or your body will remind you of it, HARD!
Refeed Days… Or Lack Thereof
Dono about you guys, but I’ve heard the term “refeed” being thrown around in ways that just boggle the mind. A refeed is a simple concept, really. If you’re going low on carbs, for example, you give yourself a day to “refeed,” meaning you eat more carbs, to keep those glycogen levels primed and energy ready.
The higher your body fat levels the more circulating letpins in your body. A significant part of leptin’s job is informing the brain (via the hypothalamus) how much energy the body has stored (bodyfat) and coming in (calories, specifically carbohydrates). If leptins levels are low, your brain signals the body to lower your energy expenditure. One of the mechanisms through which it does this is through lowering your metabolism. Leptin levels can drop by 50% after a week of dieting, which slows your metabolism.
And that right there is basically a refeed, in a nutshell…
SOLUTION: This solution is VERY difficult! Ready?? Here it is……. HAVE A REFEED DAY!! Schedule yourself a day where you eat very low fat, and up those carbs. Boom, done!
Some of these have gotta sound all too familiar, don’t they? If not, we got more. Carry on to Part 2 and surely you will come across another mistake / pitfall you have encountered…