There are a ton of ways one can approach dieting and losing weight. We are thrown noise from social media, to magazines, to friends and family. It’s hard to sort through what’s good information, and because of this, I’ve noticed a lot of trends with my female clients who come to me feeling stuck.
Here are the 3 biggest mistakes women make when trying to lose weight.
Too little or too much eating
It usually ends up being one extreme or the other. Typically, I get a lot of female clients who are eating way too little. They’ll tell me they are only eating 900 calories, and finding ways to just not eat throughout their day whether that’s completely skipping breakfast and lunch, or just drinking water to stay “full”. While we definitely need to lower our calories to lose body fat, there is a point at which we need to take a break. Normally, I have clients start off at a deficit of 500 calories below their maintenance. It’s normal to continue to lower these calories as you hit a plateau along the way. At a certain point however, if your calories dip too low (usually 1300 for female clients), I like to take a break from dieting. If we’ve gotten to the point where calories are that low, we’ve dieted too long, or didn’t start with enough calories to begin with to give us the runway to diet longer.
If you find you aren’t losing weight at this stage, I’d recommend taking a 4 week break, and building your metabolism back up. Right now, your metabolism has slowed itself down due to the decrease in calories, and most likely increase in cardio you’ve added. It’s trying to be efficient with the limited calories it has, and as a result, you’re running on low fuel. Lowering calories will not only make it harder to adhere to, but oftentimes it won’t result in any more weight loss because you are too deep into the diet. Remember this is a journey. Take those 4 weeks to take a break from your diet, bring your calories back up to maintenance and enjoy eating your regular meals again, and your metabolism should rev back up to where you can do another 10-12 week diet back at a deficit and see the weight drop again. Use this if anything, as a time to see if you can maintain keeping the current weight you have lost up to this point, off.
Too Much Cardio
This ends up going hand in hand with the first mistake. I’ve had so many clients come up to me telling me they want to lose weight. I ask them how much cardio they are doing and they tell me they’re doing up to an hour each day. Again, if you need to do this much cardio to see the scale drop, we’ve hit an endpoint. Our body is built for survival. It doesn’t know you want to look good, it just sees this deficit as starvation. As a result, it’ll start to hold onto fat (to save as energy), and prioritize burning through your muscle. You are getting the opposite effect of what you want!
Not to mention, cardio isn’t a proper stimulus for maintaining or gaining muscle. When in a deficit, the only way you’ll keep the “tone” and muscular shape you want, is by providing a stimulus that's strong enough to tell the body to hold onto muscle in a deprived state.
For more information, check out my article on Why Women Don’t Need to do Cardio.
Not Lifting Weights
This leads me to my third point. I have a ton of female clients who are doing all the cardio in the world to lose weight, but no resistance training. Resistance training is hands down the best thing you can add in during a diet. If all you do is cardio, you are just creating a smaller, flabbier version of yourself. Adding in a proper workout program will provide your body with an external stimulus (through heavy weights) to build muscle. Building weights doesn’t result in oversized bodybuilder looking bodies. Even a nice, lean, beach body is achieved through resistance training. It doesn’t take much either. Incorporate 2-3 days of full body workouts will be more than enough stimulus to maintain or add muscle to your physique.
For more information, check out my article on Will Lifting Weights Make Women Look Bulky?