There are a number of potential stumbling blocks you might face when pursuing your ideal physique, some more apparent than others, and some more difficult to avoid. However, all of these stumbling blocks can be avoided, and the key to averting these ‘dietary downfalls’ is to 1.) identify what they are 2.) acknowledge them head on, and 3.) take appropriate steps to avoid them.
1.) Hidden refined sugars: Carbohydrates and sugar are generally considered to be detrimental to fat loss goals, if there is a surplus to requirements of carbs then they are readily converted to fat stores. However, refined sugars can be more damaging to your fat loss goals because quite often you’ll be unaware that you’re even consuming them. The resultant insulin spike exposes your body to the deposition of fat, and thus fat gain. Look out for key sources of refined sugar such as sweets, mass produced cake, doughnuts, cookies and of course table sugar. OK, so they are the obvious ones, less obvious sources of refined sugars include breakfast cereals, ketchups, barbecue sauces, salad dressing, pasta sauces, frozen meals, canned fruits and even some canned vegetables.
2.) Not eating enough protein: There remains a lot of uncertainty surrounding protein, the best sources and how much you should have. Protein requirements depend on a number of factors including gender, age, physical exertion and current health. So in order to give you an idea, take the following equation and calculate your requirements range: 1.5- 2g protein per kg body weight e.g. 1.5 x 70kg = 105g and 2 x 70kg = 140g equating to a protein range of 105- 140g per day.
Not eating enough protein can indirectly result in a compensatory high consumption of carbs and fat, total calories must be met, so if protein is inadequate then the deficit has to be made up by carbs and fat (see number 1 in this list as to why). If protein is too low then the building blocks for muscle will be inadequate, so if muscle isn’t sufficiently fed then resting metabolism will be lower. Muscle burns a lot of calories, so restricting your potential for lean growth reduces your potential for fat loss! Protein is satiating, in other words, it can make you feel fuller and minimises the chances of you snacking on junk. The main sources of protein are meat, and the extra chewing and digestion is requires significantly reduces hunger via the control of hunger hormones such as CCK and Leptin.
3.) Not eating enough veg: Like protein, veg serves as ‘bulk’ when eating, the insoluble fibre of the stems of broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus, and the waxy skin on peas, beans and pulses all help to slow digestion and reduce hunger.Plus the additional space that veg occupies on the plate can significantly reduce total calorie consumption per meal, and over the course of a day. Aim to fill around half of your plate with veg, this reduces the space available for excess carbs such as pasta, potato or rice, and fills you up with comparatively low calorie food (plus it’s full of vitamins and minerals). In addition, the added fibre can increase the transit rate of fat through the bowel, physically reducing the amount of fat your body absorbs.
4.) Not tracking food intake: In the haste of a day, it’s easy to overlook your food intake, all too often people will eat food and lack the ability to report back at the end of a day. The reason for this is that eating has become a little bit too easy, and food is a little bit too convenient these daysthat people easily overlap with meals. Structuring eating, pre planning food for the following day, and recording what you eat for a few weeks (at least) can significantly improve your chances of getting the nutritional balance right, and thus burning fat. Evidence suggests that smaller, regular meals spaced over the day keeps your metabolic rate elevated, similar to how the constant feed of coals on a fire keeps the flame alive. Tracking your food intake enables you to make sense of the weight gain/ loss you may have seen from the weeks before.