Advertising
Advertising

4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead)

4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead)

The concept of losing weight is simple in theory, but once you combine fitness with the everyday events of our lives—it becomes difficult. Achieving your fitness goals doesn’t require you to abide by a laundry list of rules, but there are a few key principles that serve as the pulse to your success. Before we carry on, remove the typical reasons that many fitness articles and gurus will tell you why you’re not succeeding such as “you’re not working hard enough”, “you need to eat less and move more”, or “you need to try The Blood Type Diet.”

None of these reasons is the solution to your struggles. There are a million fitness articles in existence on the internet–most of them unfortunately, cause more confusion than clarity. Instead of trying to fit yourself into some cookie cutter plan or something that isn’t conducive to your desired lifestyle—take a step back and assess what plan actually works for you in the long term. Here’s the secret that marketers don’t want you to know—most fitness plans work and will lead you to the same destination.

It’s not your genetics, effort, nor knowledge that is holding you back from accomplishing your fitness goals—it’s the lack of attention to the small details. Here are 4 of the most common reasons why you’re falling short with your weight loss goals and what you should do instead.

1. Lack of Preparation

Problem: It’s not sexy and it can’t be decorated to make it more appealing, but preparation is an absolute must. Preparation equals you being organized, under control and helps you to potentially forecast unforeseen obstacles down the road. You schedule in doctor appointments, Friday night Tinder dates, important business lunch meetings, early morning work meetings, and your kids’ baseball games—so why not fitness?

When it comes to succeeding in fitness, at the beginning, your main objective is to knock down the big dominoes. What actions and decisions can make the biggest impact to succeeding with your weight loss goals?

Advertising

Solution: Front load your work.

Here is a scenario: Your financial advisor advises you to set aside accounts for your retirement, unforeseen accidents, and dumb mistakes (ok maybe that’s just me). Your advisor is helping you to front-load your work. When you front-load your work, you’re attempting to predict future events that could prevent you from accomplishing your goals. While you can’t predict all future events, you can forecast a couple of scenarios that could derail your fitness goals.

If healthy eating with your busy schedule is a problem, then by front-loading your work, you’re able to effectively prepare for this problem. Knowing this problem, you can have a meal replacement shake or prepared meals in advance so you aren’t tempted to binge eat on the office snacks. Before setting foot in the gym, purging your fridge, or declaring a commitment to “clean eating”—pause and take a step back and front load your work.

2. You’re following someone else’s diet

Problem: Your co-worker lost weight by following the Paleo diet and going to CrossFit multiple times a week. Naturally, you’re inclined to think this is what you must do to lose weight.

However, the beautiful and comforting fact about weight loss is that there are multiple routes to reaching the same destination.

Advertising

Solution: Choose a path that specifically works for you

To get from New York City to LA, there are multiple options to get us to our desired destination.

We have trains, cars, planes, helicopters, bikes, and even walking (for the extreme hardcore individual). Besides the different methods of transportation, you have a plethora of routes that can get you there. Some may take longer and won’t be as ideal, but nevertheless you still have the option to do so.

Your methods and routes to losing weight operate under the same philosophy. To lose weight, the most important goal is to be in a caloric deficit (i.e. expend more calories than you consume). After that fundamental concept is established, you have a plethora of options to reach that goal.

Paleo is effective, but so is a Mediterranean diet or even an island style diet that is more carbohydrate dominant. If you love bread and dairy, then a Paleo diet isn’t the best choice of diet for you. Choose a diet that supports your fitness goals and more importantly, choose a diet that complements your preferred lifestyle.

Advertising

3.  Program hopping (impatient)

Problem: Start…start over…start again…and start back over once again. Unfortunately, this is how many people treat their health and fitness.

If I was a doctor, I would diagnose this syndrome as someone suffering from “shiny object syndrome”. You start things but never finish them. Something new appears and grabs your attention with the promise of quicker results or less effort required. Being impatient and not sticking with a plan prevents you from establishing what’s working and what isn’t. Being impatient can cause you to make decisions based purely on emotions instead of logic and reasoning.

Solution: Give your program time to blossom.

A caterpillar doesn’t morph into a butterfly instantaneously. Rome wasn’t built with a swift flick of the wrist. Marvin Gaye didn’t record ‘Let’s Get It On’ in three hours. Academy award films aren’t shot in three days.

Accomplishing feats requires more than an overnight commitment. Results come down to a simple math equation.

Advertising

Consistency + repetition + patience (i.e. time) = long term and sustainable results

Let your program runs its course before making a sudden and rash decision.

4. Over-reliant on tactics

Problem: Meal timing. Obsessing over the optimal ratio for protein synthesis. Should I eat brown rice or jasmine rice? Sweet potatoes or red potatoes? Three meals a day or five meals a day? What’s the best specific time to workout? These are just a few examples of what I like to call minor tactics. These minor tactics are the icing on the cake. But, what’s the point of worrying about the icing if your cake isn’t looking good or falling apart?

Solution: Foundation comes first.

This is how your fitness should be viewed. Before you worry about meal timing and protein synthesis or any other nutritional minutiae—focus on mastering the fundamentals of nutrition. If you’re not eating healthy meals consistently day in and day out, then that’s where your focus needs to be at. At the beginning, you want to knock down the big dominoes that will have the biggest impact on your weight loss goals.  Don’t major in the minutiae.

More by this author

Julian Hayes II

Author, Health & Fitness Coach for Entrepreneurs, & Speaker

18 Basic Rules To Lead A Fulfilling Life Starting Today, Stop These 6 Things to Become the Best Version of Yourself 5 Fun Ways to Transform Your Body And Health When You Don’t Feel Like Going to the Gym 4 Common Reasons Why You Fall Short With Your Weight Loss Goals (And What You Should Do Instead) 7 (Surprising) Actions to Take For Guaranteed Fat Loss

Trending in Fitness

1 What to Eat After a Workout (Revealed by Professional Trainer) 2 7 Best Lower Back Stretches for Relieving Pain 3 How to Build Endurance Fast and Enhance Stamina 4 7 Beginner Yoga Exercises for Men to Increase Mobility 5 When Is the Best Time to Work Out? (Science-Backed Answer)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Last Updated on November 15, 2019

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Expert Advice That Will Teach You How to Increase Your Metabolism

Wouldn’t you like to be able to eat twice as much as you do now without gaining weight? If so, I have good news for you because this is possible when you learn how to increase metabolism.

How Much Do You Know About Metabolism?

Before we get to the meat, let me say that metabolism is a term that describes all the chemical reactions in your body.[1] These chemical reactions keep your body alive and functioning, however, the word metabolism is often used interchangeably with the metabolic rate or the number of calories you burn.

The metabolic rate is a rough estimate of how much energy your body needs to simply stay alive and perform all its biochemical reactions. These reactions require energy, aka burn calories.

Imagine that your brain alone consumes nearly 20% of your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure at rest),[2] your digestion and the detoxifying system come second, repairing tissues third and so on.

Staying alive is expensive for your body and its two main currencies are fats and sugars.

When I am talking about improving your metabolic rate (metabolism), I mean improving the amount of energy, your body requires to (pretty much) lay down in bed and do nothing for 24 hours.

Extra physical activity, extra thinking or fighting illness are things that require a lot of energy (burn a lot of calories) but they don’t really increase metabolism… actually they can decrease it.

Can You Naturally Change the Speed of Your Basal Metabolism?

The answer to this question is yes and you can also achieve an increase in metabolism and a drop in body fat by eating more.

Shocked? Well, I was too.

The way I came across this phenomenon is quite funny. Over my 10 years as a coach, I helped many busy professionals to naturally increase their metabolism by getting them leaner, fitter and stronger but, at the beginning of my career, I actually had no idea whether they were losing weight because of an increase in metabolism or because we created a calorie deficit with diet and exercise.

When I was training my clients regularly, they would lose weight. Every time I would take a few weeks of vacation, I would come back to London and find out that most of them gained back a generous amount of weight despite the fact that they were following their diet and they swapped our weight training sessions with cardio.

On the contrary, when they were going on vacation, they would do zero exercises and binge like there was no tomorrow but come back either lighter or weighing the same (but looking more muscular).

Advertising

Observing this phenomenon happening over and over again, got me curious about the mechanics of our metabolism and the ways to hack it.

Was it really possible that by relaxing and eating more food, someone could actually maintain his/her current weight or even be losing fat?

Driven by the desire to answer this question, I spent a good amount of years researching and testing different food strategies until I finally cracked the code to an improved metabolism that allows you to eat like a king and look like a Greek God.

Does Eating More Increase Metabolism?

Before I explain why eating more increases your metabolism, let me dig into something that I see people doing much more often: “eating less and moving more.”

It is quite common to see people embarking their yearly weight loss journey (usually after Christmas or Easter) by following very restrictive diets and bombarding their body with several hours of exercise per day.

Despite the short-term effectiveness of this approach, in the long run, if the goal is to increase metabolism and lose a lot of fat over an extended period of time, this simply won’t work.

As I have mentioned before, eating fewer calories and exercising more are energy-consuming activities for your body. In the first case, your body needs to use its own energy reserves to top up the missing energy it needs to fully function; and in the second, it takes your body extra energy to contract your muscles.

In both cases, your TDEE (Total daily energy expenditure at rest) doesn’t vary much; therefore your metabolism stays unchanged.[3]

A different scenario happens when you eat less and move more for an extended period of time (weeks or months). In that case, your metabolism will slow down because your body is receiving a “we have little access to food and we need to run away from threats” signal.

Your metabolism is like your bank account.

To understand this concept, let’s imagine that you have $4,000 coming into your bank account each and every month. The money you spend on housing, transport, food and leisure are calibrated according to this monthly income.

Now, imagine that a rich uncle starts to send you $1,000 each day. What would you do? Probably, you would save that money for the first two or three days but, when you notice that $1,000 keep on coming every single day, you would likely start to spend more right?

Advertising

What if, instead of a rich uncle sending you money, a poor uncle needed your financial help to pay for the treatments of his illness? You would probably try your best to adjust your spending according to your old $4,000 monthly budget.

That’s exactly how your body reasons:

More Resources Coming in = More Energy Released (Improved Metabolism)

Fewer Resources Coming in = Less Energy Released (Decreased Metabolism)

Note that activities like weight training[4] and high-intensity interval training (HIIT),[5] when combined with an increase in nutrient-rich foods, will also improve your metabolism.

For this reason, today, when I coach a new client, I always start by increasing their daily food intake and their physical activities. Usually, people are quite confused because they come to me to lose weight and I tell them to eat more but, without fail, the next weekly weight-check shows a lower number.

Be aware that not all foods are equal and only certain foods have the power to increase metabolism to a noticeable extent.

Foods That Increase Metabolism

Doubling up on Snickers bars won’t improve your metabolism and you know that. What you may not know is that certain foods that are marked as “healthy” doesn’t help you with increasing your metabolism. They also make you gain weight.

Before giving you a list of foods to eat or avoid, let me explain a simple principle of human biochemistry.

Your body uses energy from three (or four) main sources:

  • Sugars: whether you eat a Snickers bar or a banana, the carbohydrates contained in both get absorbed in the gut and become blood glucose (the basic form of sugar our body utilizes as a source of energy).[6]
    When blood glucose is present in the bloodstream (elevated levels), the body always uses it as its primary source of energy. When blood glucose levels drop (this phenomenon happens when you’re using these sugars to fuel a physical activity or when your pancreas produced a spike of insulin and stores that glucose into fat and muscles), your body starts to release fatty acids into the bloodstream to use as a source of energy.
  • Fatty acids: either from your own fat cells (adipocytes) or from whatever fat-containing foods you ate in the past 2-3 hours. Fatty acids are a slower and more consistent form of energy than sugars that your body can utilise.
  • Amino acids: Amino acids are the broken-down form of proteins. Proteins cannot be used by the body as a source of energy, not even in their broken-down form. Your body can transform amino acids into glucose with a process called gluconeogenesis.[7] This is a very inefficient process where a decent amount of energy gets wasted (and that’s a good thing for us but I’ll get to that later).
  • Ketones: when you don’t feed your body any source of carbs (or proteins in excess), your liver produces an alternative source of energy called Ketones. It can replace the need for glucose (most of it at least).[8]

Now that you know the four energy sources the body can use to fuel its metabolism, let’s get to the meat (quite literally).

To make this simple for you, I am going to divide foods into three categories:

Advertising

  1. Red Flags – Avoid the red foods because they slow your metabolism. They are usually extremely low in micronutrients and high in antinutrients (agents that are highly toxic). They are highly processed or spike your insulin levels (therefore stopping your fat burning process).
  2. Orange Foods – Limit your consumption of orange foods. The orange foods on the list are suboptimal choices but they don’t have a negative impact on your metabolism when consumed in moderation. In fact, they contain a decent amount of micronutrients and, if eaten in small amounts, they shouldn’t stop your fat burning process.
  3. Green Foods – These are foods to consume most. Green foods will improve your metabolism and should be the main bulk of your diet.

Next, I’ll get into details exactly what foods to eat and avoid:

Sugars and Carbs

Sugars do not directly improve metabolism because they stop the process of fat utilisation. There is an exception to this rule though. When you eat a diet extremely low in carbohydrates and sugars for an extended period of time (two to six days onwards), introducing carbohydrates and sugars can actually improve metabolism quite a bit.

Unfortunately, for most of us that love eating bread, pasta, fruit and yoghurt, unless we were on a low-carb diet for the past few days, these foods are not an optimal choice.

Sugars like fructose (found in fruit or commercial sugar) actually decrease metabolism and should be limited. Heavily processed sugars and carbohydrates should be also limited. Here is the colour list of sugars and carbs that affect metabolism:

Red Flag Sugary Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Dried fruit
  • Commercial and packaged corn
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • All sorts of candies and lookalike
  • Packaged fruit juices and purees
  • Sugary dairy products like flavoured yoghurt, condensed milk etc
Orange Sugary Foods You Should Limit:
  • Bread and flour-based products
  • Milk and also vegan milk alternatives that are sweetened
  • Most fruit (exceptions are in the green list below)
  • Potatoes and potato starch products
  • Oatmeals and other grains
Green Sugary and Carb-Containing Foods That Improve Metabolism
  • All berries except strawberries
  • Tubers like squash, carrots, parsnips etc
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White rice
  • All green vegetables

Fats

Fatty acids and fats, in general, can improve or decrease metabolism depending on their composition.

Red Flag Fatty Foods You Should Avoid:
  • Margarine and hydrogenated fat
  • Lard
  • Gmo oils
  • Most vegetable oils from seeds and peanut oil
Orange Fatty Foods You Should Limit:
  • Nuts
  • Meat fat
  • Nut oils (macadamia, almond, cashew etc..)
  • Seeds
Green Fatty Foods You Should Eat Daily
  • Extra virgin olive oil (non-heated)
  • Avocado
  • Coconut oil
  • Butter (organic)
  • Egg yolks (free-range)
  • Bone marrow

The fatty foods in the green section tend to be very effective in increasing metabolism, especially in the absence of carbohydrates because they stimulate the production of ketones (I’ll talk about this later).

Bear in mind that 1 gram of fat has 2.5 times the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrates; therefore “eating more fats” to increase metabolism should be done very gradually to avoid weight gain.

Proteins

Eating food not only sends regulatory signals to your brain about abundance vs scarcity of resources, but it can also increase your metabolism for a few hours. This is called the thermic effect of food (TEF).[9] It’s caused by the extra calories required to digest, absorb and process the nutrients in your meal.

Protein causes the largest rise in TEF.[10] It increases your metabolic rate by 15-30%, compared to 5-10% for carbs and 0-3% for fats

Eating protein has also been shown to help you feel more full and prevent you from overeating, in fact, a study found that people were likely to eat around 441 fewer calories per day when protein made up 30% of their diet.[11]

Also, proteins help preserve muscle mass.[12] The more muscle mass we have, the higher our basal metabolism is.

For these reasons, the first nutritional advice I usually give to clients is to reduce sugars and increase proteins. This quick swap is often enough to kickstart their metabolism and commence the fat burning process.

Advertising

Red Protein Sources That Should Be Avoided
  • Cheap whey proteins
  • Soy proteins
  • GMO meat
  • GMO eggs
  • Packaged meat
Orange Protein Source to Be Limited
  • Canned tuna
  • Canned fish
  • Canned meat
  • Gluten-rich products like Seitan
  • Farmed fish
Green Protein Sources to Have Daily
  • Free-range meat
  • Free-range eggs
  • Wild meat and fish
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Collagen and beef protein hydrolyzed

Note that this is a general categorisation of the foods that, when added to your diet, have the power to increase or decrease metabolism. There are some specific foods and supplements worth mentioning because they have been proven to improve metabolism by increasing thyroid output or resting heart rate, they are as follows.

Other Foods and Supplements

Cold water

Drinking water may temporarily speed up your metabolism. Studies have shown that drinking 17 ounces (0.5 litres) of water increases resting metabolism by 10-30% for about an hour.[13]

This is not a surprise since our body is made up mainly by water and proper hydration is key to a fast metabolism. This calorie-burning effect may be even greater if you drink cold water, as your body uses energy to heat it up to body temperature.

MCT Oils or Powders

Medium-chain triglycerides or MCT have been shown to improve metabolism by stimulating Ketone production.[14] Coconut oil contains MCT fats and, when used as a replacement for cooking oil can help you improve metabolism.

You can buy the concentrated version of MCT oils and eat it separately to further enhance this effect. Either way, coconut oil or pure MCT oil can be a great addition to your diet if you’re following a ketogenic or intermittent fasting protocol.

Caffeine

Caffeine and coffee have been shown to improve metabolism by improving heart rate and, therefore improving calorie consumption.[15]

Green Tea

Green tea

is thought to increase energy expenditure and fat oxidation, and to reduce fat production and absorption.[16]

Bottom Line

In this article, I just covered the basics of food and metabolism but, there are many other non-food related things you can do to improve your metabolism, like improving your sleep quality and following certain exercise routines.

For now, just know that making small and gradual changes to your diet can increase your metabolism and improve your general health. Starting from changing one habit at a time is always the best strategy to accomplish any goal.

Once you improve your diet, your hydration and your supplementation you can think about testing more advanced “bio-hacks” or techniques like ice baths and fasted HIIT training.

And remember, having a higher metabolism doesn’t only help you lose weight and keep it off but it also give you more energy and a feeling of vibrancy. If you give it time, it really is worth the investment.

Featured photo credit: Fitsum Admasu via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next