Losing fat is hard work. It can be even harder in today’s diet world. With so much conflicting information, it is easy to get caught up in a diet trap. If you are serious about losing fat and keeping it off, here are 4 diet traps you can’t afford to get caught in.
Trap 1: Gluten Free
Not that long ago, most people who stopped eating gluten lost weight. Why? While many like to over-complicate things, it largely had to do with eating less foods. If you lived in North America, a huge chunk of your daily food intake was some form of wheat. If you removed all the wheat-containing foods, you naturally ate less because you had less options. As a result, you likely went from a slight caloric surplus, to a caloric deficit. You also would have likely shifted your macronutrients to eating less total carbohydrates and potentially lowered your insulin levels.
Now thanks the gluten free fad (yes, I know there are people who are Celiac or who have a true gluten intolerance) you can get a gluten-free alternative for any gluten-containing product. As a result, instead of reducing food intake, many people simply switch to gluten free alternatives. While free of gluten, these products contain just as many if not more calories than the gluten-containing ones. Many also spike insulin levels even more. Oh, and they cost more so the only thing that gets thinner is your bank account.
Feel free to see how you feel eating less gluten. However, for fat loss, replace your bread-dominant meals with lean proteins, veggies, some fruit, healthy fats and as needed, whole, unprocessed carbs (e.g. yams, real whole grains).
Trap 2: Natural Sugars
These days, many people fear sugar. This can be a good thing as excess sugar is not healthy, can cause fat gain and rot your teeth (we always seem to forget about dental health – don’t – it impact your overall health). As a result, many people turn to whole, natural sources of sugar such as honey, dates, raisins and molasses. Now, it is true that these natural sources of sugar are natural and unrefined. They contain healthy nutrients and antioxidants. However, you just do a sugar replacement it does nothing for your body composition or your dental health.
Trying to never eat a gram of sugar is too extreme. Have the occasional treat and enjoy it guilt free. If your treat is made from natural sugars instead of refined sugars, you will get some added nutrients. However, adjusting your nutrition to trigger fat loss is about reducing total food intake and replacing sugars with protein and veggies – not replacing processed sugar with natural sugar.
Trap 3: Organic
I’ll go quick here as I’m sure you are seeing the pattern with these first three traps. Organic used to mean eating more whole, natural foods and less processed junk foods. Now, you can get organic versions of all your favorite junk foods. Healthier? Maybe, but no different for fat loss/gain. Also, all three of these traps can actually cause you to eat more since you see it as healthier.
Replace processed junk foods with whole, natural foods. If you can afford it, organic is a good option, but pass on the organic potato chips.
Trap 4: “Earned it!”
Since the early 2000’s, research and real world evidence has shown some benefits to post-workout nutrition. After a hard training session, your body is ready to suck up protein and carbs to replenish glycogen stores and start repairing tissue. Now, if you are doing a ton of really intense training or trying to build muscle, you want to take full advantage of this. However, many people trying to lose body fat shoot themselves in the foot. They tell themselves, “I’ve earned it!” and head to the local coffee shop for a caramel-fudge coffee with whipped cream and some square chocolate object. A few minutes later they have consumed far more calories than they just burned.
Train hard in the gym. After training, consume a normal, balanced meal or some protein powder with a piece of fruit. Tell yourself, “there is no way I’m going to wreck all my hard work!”
How about you? Have you fallen for these traps in the past? I invite you to leave your questions or comments below or on my Facebook Page.