Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Top Five "Clean Eating" Mistakes People Make When Trying to Lose Bodyfat


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. 

Dietary fat

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...

Starchy carbs

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. 


Fruit

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. 


Bars

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? 
Interested in our nutrition coaching program? Contact us! 

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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39 comments:

  1. Great tips, Jen! I love when clients give me a food diary and it's no carbs and all fat. It's amazing how there has been such a switch from the 90s where it was all no fat, high carbs. Some people are eating 1000+ calories a day on nut butters alone! Personally, I work better on a higher carb plan so I only have about two serves of fat per day. If I'm trying to lose fat, I increase that to more like four serves as I decrease my carb consumption. When you're hungry, it's so easy to overdo it with the fats but you just have to remember that fats have the highest amount of calories per gram, so you're likely to undo all your hard work!

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    1. Thanks Tara!
      That is an excellent point and I run across that all of the time. I see so many people eliminate all carbs and then just overload on dietary fat.

      I will admit that I have fallen into the high fat trap before, too. "Oh, this jar of nut butter doesn't have many carbs so it must be fine...." Things to that effect. Oops! ;)

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  2. Tara I completely agree on the nut butters! They are delicious but people forget that they're a 'sometimes' food. Especially when they figure out how to make them at home...

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    1. Hi Laura!
      I was just telling Tara that I have fallen into the Fat Trap numerous times and have really had to back way down on fat intake, most of which was coming from nuts and nut butters.

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  3. These pointers couldn't be more timely! Thanks. I have been strength training seriously since January and things were going well - I wasn't losing weight but my clothes still fit fine. As soon as I slip on the clean eating though, like in the last month, the waistbands feel a bit tighter. So I've strengthened my resolve to clean up my eating again, and your tips help me make sure I'm doing it "right". I'm hopeful some of this fat will come off and I'll be able to see more muscle definition - the fruits of my labor these last 10 months!

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    1. I'm so glad that you liked it!
      My body reacts that way, too. If my nutrition starts to slip at all, it's immediately noticeable in my waistband.
      I have no doubt that if you head things off at the pass and dial everything back in, you will be just fine. The key is to do it ASAP though - don't wait! ;)

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  4. I agree bacon & sausage are fatty versions of pork and aren't necessary. Especially since pork is a high omega-6 food. However, the amount of good stuff in an egg yolk isn't to be ignored. It is literally brain food. Villianize nut butter all you want, but not 5 delicious grams of choline-filled fat.

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    1. Hi there!
      I think you may have missed my point. Just to clarify, I don't think that there is anything wrong at all with egg yolks (or dietary fat). My point that I was trying to make is that some people (think a 150 pound woman) doesn't need to be eating 10 egg yolks per day, in addition to multiple other fat sources. Egg yolks are wonderful - but there is always too much of a good thing.

      Thanks for chiming in!

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  5. Two of the most common mistakes I see a lot of are a) not enough natural protein sources and overloading on protein powder and other artificial sources and b) thinking protein is the only thing that matters. I've heard so many people training for fat loss say "Oh I had eggs and turkey bacon for breakfast and then some chicken for lunch" and they think this is healthy. There needs to be protein in every meal but also veggies, healthy fats, low-starch, vegetable based carbs, etc. Just protein will never give your body the nutrients it needs to perform optimally!

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    1. Hi Laura!
      Great point! I have ran into a few women that are putting back an obscene amount of meat and little else. Carbs, veggies, dietary fat, fruit... there is a time and place for all of them, plus you ensure your body a wide variety of necessary nutrients!

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  6. This type of stuff really comes to a head for me when I am plateaued (which seems to be more often than not). I am not "lean and trying to get leaner;" I still have at least 20 lbs to lose before I'd consider myself lean (down 20 in the last year). But in order to lose, I've learned that I need to come to terms with being hungry. Sometimes, with life's other stressors, that is too much to deal with, so I just eat until I'm satisfied. The problem is that I can eat clean food until I'm satisfied or "dirtier" food and my weight doesn't budge either way. So there's no motivation to clean up my act unless I know I'm going to take the extra step to restrict portions too. It drives me batty b/c in the end it means I'd rather see the scale go UP than see it stay the same, b/c if it starts to trend upward then I am motivated to eat cleaner. But if I eat a donut and a cookie today and a piece of bread tomorrow, and my weight stays the same, why the heck would I pick salad or protein over that?

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    1. Hi Nicole,
      thanks for sharing some of your story with me.

      Do you think it's physical hunger that you are dealing with, or appetite? There is a big difference, and a big appetite can certainly be driven by emotions.

      Are you concerned about your health, and repercussions that may come from eating the donuts and cookies, even though your weight may stay the same?

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    2. Thanks for the reply Jen. That is a good question about appetite vs. hunger; my appetite certainly goes up during certain points of my cycle (when I also tend to be more emotional!) but I am not sure if I can really distinguish between appetite and hunger--how do you tell?

      Health can certainly be a motivator. I know when I eat clean and regularly include clean starchy carbs I feel at my best. If I cut back on the carbs I still feel pretty good, and if I eat too much sugar I don't feel so awesome. Usually that is what gets me to cut it out, because I start to feel really icky after a few days of eating sugar. But by then the damage is already done, ya know?

      It's tricky. I think it'll still take me some time to get to the root of my issues with food and emotions, but I am making progress!

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  7. Although I eat a what I guess would be a considered a high-ish carb diet(150-200g/day and loving it), I definitely think that eating too many "clean starchy carbs" and not enough protein(mostly women)is where many people go wrong.

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    1. Yes! Overcarbing and not enough protein! So common!

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  8. I couldn't get under 15 percent body fat until I cut out my Protein shakes

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    1. Interesting! Were you using a whey protein? I've noticed that whey protein can block some people's progress if they don't tolerate dairy well.

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  9. Great article!... to me it all comes down to two things, "what you eat" and "how much you eat"

    Especially the "how much" is very much overlooked :-)

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    1. Thanks Paul! The "how much" is a tough one, but it's crucial!

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  10. I've kept fruit in my diet daily and done well...but don't really have starchy carbs unless it's a treat at the weekend. Suppose it comes down to a trade-off. I love fruit, particularly post workout and feel great on it. Never notice the absence of rice or bread at all.

    Great point about the fats! Scary how easily I know I could scarf down 700 calories of nuts and nut butters. Between the cupboard and the table probably. Delicious + high calorie density=danger! Had to start making the nut butters a treat food.

    Bars! Such a good point. Another thing that I rarely buy now. Scary how many calories some have-like 400! It occurred to me that I'm a bit of a volume whore and would prefer a bowl of actual food if it was a direct choice. So just occasional now.

    Got caught on so many of these before!

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    1. Hey there!
      Oh yes, I remember you and I discussing nuts and nut butters on FB! I can't even buy trailmix anymore. The serving size is so small that it's just enough to waken the beast (and make it angry). ;) haha!

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    2. I remember! And yes, I'm the same with the trail mix. I actually thought of that discussion and you when I was looking at a bag of it while in a line at a store the other day. Looked at the bag and had to put it back down. If I want to treat myself I have to buy a miniscule portion at the bulk store. Sob! But better than deciding between never ever having it and eating the equivalent of a full meal without even noticing.

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  11. Great post Jen. I couldn't agree more. I think when people are eating a paleo, cave-man, or primal diet they think that just because it's all natural that they can't overdo it. While it's great to eat whole, un-processed foods, if fat loss is your goal, you still need to keep your macros and micros in check.

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    1. Thanks Chelsey!
      Yes, I agree with everything you said!

      When fat loss it the objective, there are no "free foods" other than veg.! ;)

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  12. You can't look at the snapshots of what people are eating and think ok that's how I should be eating - it's very deceiving - first of all it's one meal in a line of how many others - and that person may not be on the same track as you etc - one day someone posted she was putting coconut oil in her coffee and I thought oh lord everyone is going to be loading fat in their coffee now

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    1. Great point Malita!
      I've posted up what I've eaten a few times and I always hope that people don't think that is what I eat every single day. Some days are higher fat, some days are higher carb, etc.
      Wonderful comment!

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  13. Thanks for this Jen! I'm planning to start Paleo this weekend (just wanted to get my kitchen shelves in order before committing) but one thing that was started to give me doubts about this diet were all the blogs about Paleo advocating "just put bacon on it" as if you can add bacon to whatever you're eating without worrying about adverse health or diet affects. My question is where do you limit the fat? To advocate for no egg yolks or one egg yolk mixed with a majority of egg whites for an omelette? Are avocados never ok? Or is avocado ok a couple times a week?
    I'm just starting so I have a million questions

    Sarah

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    1. Hi Sarah,
      While I personally don't follow a true Paleo protocol (but dang close), I do think that there are numerous health benefits to only eating whole, unprocessed foods. The biggest mistake I see people make with the Paleo diet is that many try to quench their cravings for junk food by eating an obscene amount of dietary fat, usually by way of bacon, sausage, and nuts. While dietary fat is absolutely crucial for health, there is always too much of a good thing.

      Fat sources that I always recommend to my clients are plant sources, such as olives, olive oil, and avocado. Pastured, organic egg yolks (1-2 per day) are wonderful sources of fat, as is coconut oil, but remember that saturated fat should only make up about 25 - 30% of our daily dietary fat intake.
      As for bacon and sausage, I'd go so far to say that conventionally raised pork is actually NEVER okay to eat. If you consume pastured, organic pork, then once in awhile is just fine.

      I'd recommend that you get some loose macros in place and try to stick to them, that way you are able to get in what you need, but are careful not to overdo it.

      Let me know if I can be of further help!

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  14. Brilliant!! I always love reading your articles Jen, they are always concise and filled with valuable information minus the fluff.

    I couldn't have said it better about dietary fat getting the green light in the Paleo community. I found myself gaining a few extra kilos after I added the magical bulletproof coffee into my day. It's amazingly delicious, but it is still 200+ calories of fat in liquid form that I wasn't having before.... Sadly the kilos don't come off as easy as they go on!

    There is a lot of hype over the thermic effect of coconut oil and that it helps to burn more calories but not much emphasis is put on the fact that it is a fat, it has approximately 9 calories per gram and the thermic effect does NOT make you burn more calories than what you consume!

    If we thought about what we would have to do to obtain a coconut in the wild we might think twice about guzzling half a tin of coconut milk. I have climbed a coconut tree to get coconut, unhusked it, cracked it open and eaten it. It was hard work.. I would probably say that it was the equivalent to at least 5 rope climbs and a lot of sledgehammer slams. Food isn't easy to come by in the wild and you have to burn a lot of energy just to get it.

    Lisa

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  15. Hi Jen

    I was wondering if you could help me understand how much peanut putter is too much peanut butter. It's my favorite snack and I eat a couple spoonfuls of Skippy Natural during my work day. I didn't think it was bad, but now I'm confused :( help!

    Thanks!!
    Megan

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    1. Hi Megan!
      Mmmm, I love PB! Here is the deal: if you tolerate peanut butter well and don't notice any problems with it (bloating, skin issues, etc) then it's just fine to consume. I'd recommend limiting it to 2 TBSP per day, and only because it's important that you get a wide variety of healthy dietary fats (olive oil, avocado, etc) and not just O.D.ing on peanut butter ;)

      If you are trying to lose fat and have noticed that it's stalled, you may try scaling the PB back or cutting it out completely for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference. Otherwise, if everything is all good, then no worries!

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  16. Thanks so much for the advice! You rock!!

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  17. Great post.
    I'm 5'7 at 146 pounds, i'm almost where i want to be as far as looking lean and toned and i eat 1 banana for breakfast, 1 apple for lunch and 1 grapefruit for a snack, is this much more than i need? I dont eat much starch of any kind by the way.

    Thanks

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  18. Great article. I am one of the pretty lean and would like to be leaner people. I've followed a 40% fat, 30% carb, 30% protein diet for about 13 months and it's transformed my body as well as dropped my (natually high) blood sugar to a level it's never been at.

    I would like to lose some of the remaining body fat, though my carbs are already pretty healthy for the most part. Should I drop the afternoon apple, and the post-workout bananas, and watermelon a few times a week? I also eat about 5 servings of vegetables a day (e.g. carrots, sprouts, broccoli, bok choy, asparagus).

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  19. How much olive oil should we be eating? I drizzle it over everything practically.... just cause everyone is saying its so good for you now and the mediteranean diet is supposed to be so good and they put olive oil on everything but now I'm thinking maybe I have been overdoing it! but it makes everything better ! :(

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    1. Hello!

      You are right - olive oil is extremely good for you, however we have to remember that it's very calorically dense, and too much of a good thing (no matter how "clean" the source) can result in weight gain.

      I'm unable to tell you how much olive oil you should be consuming per day because I don't know what other sources of fat you are eating and how much.

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  20. Thanks for this informative post. I've stalled and am going backwards on my weight loss. This helped me see where I'm making mistakes.

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  21. so tru about the not enough food. i train a lot both cardio and weightlift..but iate too few calories and i only ate about 50g carbs per day..and i murdered my metabolism.. and i reached my flatlines far too soon ..but now..im learning more about nutrition and increase my food intake..

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  22. I am talking about protein bars and friends?
    I don't see the question here. Why the question mark?

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