“I just don’t get it!”
I go to the gym 3-5 days a week. I always take the stairs. I'm an active person. I have salads for lunch. I have read multiple books on dieting. Why doesn’t my body look any different?
If you have ever felt this way, you are not alone. In fact, a majority of people who start a diet feel this way.
How is it that you seem to do everything right, but nothing changes? The way your body looks is rarely made by the 1 hour you spend in the gym, it’s the other 23 hours when you have to manage your fork 4-5 times.
Today we are going to explore the top 5 reasons why you can workout day but your body will never change.
Reason 1: You’re strict Monday - Friday, but not Saturday & Sunday
On Sunday, you are the grill master. You grill up chicken, lean steak, and some veggies. You stuff them into Tupperware and you’re ready to attack the week with a vengeance.
Monday: “I feel great, so far so good.”
Wednesday: “I had one little slip up, but no big deal. I got this.”
Friday: “I’m done with this clean eating. I am ready for happy (four) hour(s).”
What we just described is called “work week syndrome,” and it’s a huge reason why your body is not responding to your “clean eating” routine.
No matter how much effort you put into preparing meals on Sunday, you will never succeed in improving the way your body looks if your eating habits change drastically on the weekends.
You are putting your body on a calorie roller coaster, and you’re essentially undoing whatever progress you made Monday - Friday on the weekends.
Reason 2: You are not eating enough
Body composition, or the amount of lean muscle mass vs fat mass, is mainly determined by two factors: caloric balance(calories in - calories out) and macronutrient balance (ratio of carbs to protein to fat ingested daily). When I explain this to clients, the natural reaction becomes “if I want to lose weight = I must eat much less.”
Losing weight isn’t about eating fewer calories, it’s about eating the right amount of calories for you. When it comes to your body, there is no such things as “one size fits all.” Every single body is different and will have different requirements.
Most (roughly 80%) of our Nutribuild clients enter our program as undereaters. When you combine a low calorie diet with as much as 6-7 days per week of intense exercise like Crossfit or long distance running, you have a recipe for disaster.
Let me explain why, and I’m gonna get a little sciencey for a second.
While a slight caloric deficit (300-600 calories per day) can lead to sustainable weight loss , much larger deficits induce changes in your body’s metabolism in order to keep your body in a homeostatic balance.
Your body does not like major, drastic changes, and it will make modifications to your thyroid, adrenal, and sex hormones in order to reduce your overall caloric output.
This includes reducing active thyroid hormone, shutting down sex hormone production, and raising stress hormones like cortisol. Chronically elevated cortisol levels leads to both leptin and insulin resistance, a disastrous hormonal state that can keep body weight high.
These hormonal changes can lead to:
- Stalled weight loss
- Body fat retention
- Mood swings
- Energy swings
- Lack of focus
- Many other negative health effects
Reason 3: You are eating too much fat
Paleo. Ketogenic. Atkins. Sounds like the beginning of a bad “walk into a bar” joke.
What do they all have in common?
They promote a low-carb, high fat eating style.
Now, understand that I am not bashing these diets. I know people who have had success on these diets, but the diets’ principles are often misinterpreted and end up coming down to one thing: an excuse to eat bacon.
Bacon on Bacon on Bacon
But here's where these diets went wrong.
Fat is very easy to over-consume. Foods like avocados, almonds, cashews, coconuts, and eggs are typically coined as very healthy because they contain a lot of vitamins and minerals. Because of the “healthy” classification, most people believe it’s a green light to eat as much as they want.
For example, an avocado is one of the most micronutrient dense foods on earth. It contains over 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. But one avocado can contain 35 - 40g of fat and nearly 350 calories. Do you know how easy it is to eat an avocado? Give me two minutes and I’ll show you how.
To put that in perspective, when I am not trying to lose weight, I consume 2,400 calories. I eat 80g of fat per day. Eating 1 little innocent and delicious avocado would be consuming ½ of my fat for the entire day.
Here is a quick little guide of what 20g of fat looks like in various forms:
Reason 4: You are drinking too much
This one is personal, and it was the toughest for me to manage when I was losing weight. I love going out for drinks. There is nothing going out for a night of food, drinks, and debauchery. But in a typical night of drinking, I can consume anywhere from 500 - 2,000 calories, easily. 500 calories is roughly 3-4 beers. Throw in a few slices of pizza (1 large slice = 300-400 calories) and a few shots, and I’m at 2,000 calories really quickly.
I’m sure some of you can relate. On any given night of drinking, the calories can add up very rapidly.
So let’s break it down the common calories in some drinks.
Calories in common drinks
As you can see above, within a few drinks, the calories can add up extremely quickly and destroy the progress you may have made in the gym all week.
Your body will process these calories the same manner in which it processes calories from food. Therefore, whether you are staying home and pounding Ben & Jerry’s on a Friday night, or going out and running up a tab, your results with be exactly the same.
Reason 5: You Sit at a Desk All Day
I do Crossfit workouts 5-6 times a week, followed by some mobility or stretching. This gets me anywhere between 1 hour - 1 ½ hours of moving per day. Outside of that, my time is mostly spent sitting in front of a computer.
Much to my dismay, research finds that dedicated workouts simply can't compensate for being sedentary the rest of the time. According to one University of Missouri-Columbia study, sitting for just a few hours causes your body to stop making a fat-inhibiting enzyme called lipase.
Simply getting up and walking for just 2-5 minutes each hour will burn additional calories but keep hormone production normal. In fact, several short walks throughout the day will help counteract this almost entirely.
Why this is important to us
These lessons are the motivating factor behind the most recent changes here at Strengthlete. The goal of our company is not just to sell you clean protein or supplements, but also to teach you the context in which they should be used, how to change your habits, and overall, how to change your relationship with food. This is so important to us because these lessons changed my life, this business, and are the essence of our change and transformation. Join the Strengthlete Nation at http://www.strengthlete.com/#jump