Top Five “Clean Eating” Mistakes People Make When Trying to Lose Bodyfat
We all know certain things will definitely derail our fat loss efforts; things like chowing down on fast food, eating too much chocolate, and poppin’ bottles every other night. But what if you have eliminated all of the obvious things, are eating healthy, and still struggling to get to where you want to be? I’m going to help you tweak things a bit by divulging the top five mistakes that I see people make with their nutrition when they are eating clean.
The word “bacon” greases graces my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed countless times per day. Mentioning that porky goodness in your status update will immediately boost your popularity and guarantee innumerable comments vehemently professing their own love for bacon.
It wasn’t until the Paleo movement that bacon and other fats such as egg yolks, sausage and animal fats got the green light from most of the healthy eating community.
Paleo followers reach out to me often asking why on Earth they can’t lose weight. “I only eat whole foods, and I don’t eat any dairy, grains, or sugar....so what gives?”
I peek at their food log and see that every meal includes bacon, is floating on a sea of egg yolks, incorporates avocado, has piles of sausage, and is all covered in ghee.
Okay, so maybe that is a slight exaggeration. But the common denominator with all of these well-intentioned folk is that their dietary fat content is way too high.
Reminder: fat is not a “free food”.
I’m going to say that again for emphasis, just in case the previously bold and italicized print didn’t catch your eye the first time: fat is not a “free food”.Some dietary fat is a necessity. It’s crucial for hormone health, cell membrane integrity, brain function, and the list goes on. While eating some fat will not make you fat, too much of this good thing will absolutely blunt fat loss efforts, and in some cases, send you reeling backwards. Put down the jar of nut butter and back away slowly...
A lot of people are struggling to lose fat because their starchy carb consumption - even though they are clean sources - is simply too high. Most carbohydrate sources are very easy to overeat (I can personally throw back two cups of cooked rice without even trying), so we have to be mindful of how much we are eating and the timing of them. It works best for some people to consume their carbohydrate earlier in the day and post-workout, while others do better with carbs post-workout and in the evening. Everybody is different, but for most women, it’s safe to say that your daily carb intake should be somewhere in the range of 100 - 150g per day (depending on your size and activity level) if your goal is fat loss.
Ahhh, fruit. Earth’s sweet bounty. It’s full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bonus - fruit is delicious. However, when trying to lose bodyfat, you need to limit your fruit intake. To what degree you curb it will depend on how many carbohydrates you are getting from starchy carbs, how lean you currently are, how lean you’d like to get, along with other factors. If it takes all of your willpower to stay away from the do-it-yourself Frozen Yogurt shop next door to your office, and an apple takes that edge off, then I’m all for a piece of fruit. However, if you are relatively lean and trying to get leaner, you need to cut your fruit back to a few times per week.
Let me start this section with full disclosure: I love bars. No, not the DJ spinnin’, strobe lit kind of Vegas bar where the Ciroc runs freely (although I do dig that as well). I am talking about protein bars and friends?
I, Jen Comas Keck, am a bar fanatic.
I don’t like ice cream, I never crave french fries, and I couldn’t possibly care less about bread, donuts, or most other indulgences. My biggest, treat-iest treat? Bars. Browsing the protein bar aisle in the grocery is my idea of a damn good time. You’re probably thinking, what is the problem with protein bars? They are, as Carter once termed them, glorified candy bars, and unfortunately he is absolutely right. While they may have 10 - 20 grams of protein, most of them are loaded with sugar, carbs, and a bunch of scary ingredients that we can’t pronounce. While there are a couple of protein bars on the market that aren’t bad, they should be used in moderation, as their nutrition pales in comparison to a high quality protein source with plenty of fresh vegetables. If you are munching bars all the time - protein, Lara, Kind, Clif, or otherwise - you need to cut those way down if your goal is fat loss.
Not enough food
We’ve talked about eating too much fat and fruit, and too many protein bars and carbohydrate, but now we are going to switch gears completely and head to the opposite end of the spectrum.
When trying to lose fat, I constantly hear from people who pull out all of the stops and slash an obscene amount of calories right out of the gate, along with doing a bunch of cardio. This works for awhile but then that inevitable plateau hits and they are unable to decrease calories any further. For example, if you are 5’7” and weigh 165 pounds and you’re only eating a scant (and dangerous) 1,000 calories per day, what are you going to do when your progress flatlines (and sooner or later I promise that it will) and you haven’t arrived at your goal yet? You can’t drop your calories any further and still function.
Fat loss takes a long time and slow and steady is the only thing that will win this race. That means that you have to leave yourself somewhere to go once your progress stalls. Undereating won’t do anything for you other than downregulate your metabolism and make things much more difficult on yourself in the long-run.
When working towards fat loss, you need to use long term thinking. Don’t fall into the insidious trap of only focusing on what will only work right now. What will also work down the road? Are you leaving room for adjustments, or did you already go all in?
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If you already have your nutrition quite dialed in, you may just need to make one or more of the tweaks listed above to jumpstart things and help push you in the right direction. I can cite studies and research all day long, but the truth is that fat loss is very individual. Different things work for different people. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments and see what works for you!
"For results: Look at your body like a science experiment. Add a stimulus. Measure response. Adjust as needed. One variable at a time." -C.Ballantyne
What mistakes do you think are most commonly made when it comes to eating clean?
Drop me a comment below and lets chat!
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