Avoid Faulty Thinking That Makes Fat Loss Harder

It’s no surprise that losing fat and keeping it off is a challenge. What you might not know is that there are many limiting beliefs that make fat loss harder. Here are ten common misconceptions to avoid to prevent a growing waist line.

Belief #1: One Pound Equals 3,500 Calories

The old rule of thumb was that if you can burn off 3,500 calories, you’ll lose a pound of fat. The problem is that for most people, more than 30 percent of the weight lost is lean tissue. Therefore, for every 3,500 calories you cut, you’ll probably only lose about 2/3 of a pound of fat, and unfortunately, the loss of lean mass means your metabolism will drop, making future fat loss all the harder.

Solution

Training with weights and eating a high-protein diet are two ways to shift the weight loss equation in your favor so that you lose a greater percentage of fat.

Belief #2: I Can Lose It Later

Every year, most people gain a few pounds over the holidays, but that’s okay because they’ll just tighten up their diet come the new year and the fat will drop off, right? Unlikely! Most people never lose all the fat they gained over the holidays, and their weight ratchets up year after year, slowly degrading their health and body composition.

Solution

Establish healthy eating and exercise habits going into the holidays and maintain them all year round.

Belief #3: Once It’s Off It Will Stay Off

You’re on a deadline. All you have to do is stick to your diet for a month. Then you’ll lose the fat and can go back to eating normally. We’ve all tried this and it never works.

As soon as you go back to your old eating and sitting around habits, the fat comes back with a vengeance. Most people who use this approach actually end up fatter and with worse health compared to people who never lost fat at all.

Solution

You’ve got to embrace the idea that weight management is a lifelong reality. Identify a way of eating so that you enjoy food instead of obsessing over “off-limit” foods that set you up for failure.  

Belief #4: I Can Work Off The Extra Calories

Studies show that exercise for fat loss, especially aerobic exercise is often ineffective. The reason is still unclear but we do know that people often compensate for calories burned during exercise by eating more. They go burn off 500 calories from a five mile run, and boom, they inhale a bag of chips, have a few glasses of wine, or chow down on some “healthy” carb-filled meal.

Solution

Certain forms of exercise such as sprints and strength training can support a fat loss program but you’ve got to put just as much effort and attention into fixing your diet.

Belief #5: There’s One Magic Bullet Diet

Diet research is hopelessly confusing and contradictory but there’s one thing we know for sure: There is no miracle diet. Sure, low-carb diets are slightly more effective for fat loss than low-fat, low-calorie diets, but the reality is that people rarely stick to them for the long run, which eliminates the advantage.

Solution

The magic bullet diet is the one YOU can stick to.

Belief #6: It’s All Or Nothing

The classic example of it’s all or nothing is when you eat one piece of pizza and then decide that since you blew your diet, you might as well polish off the pizza and have a pint of ice cream as well, because after all, you have to start over tomorrow.

This is like saying, “oh gee, I have one flat tire, let me just slash the other three.” Not only does this sabotage your ability to take action, you end up eating thousands of extra calories in the process!

Solution

Instead of rationalizing your way into a binge, identify your faulty thinking, notice it, and choose to stop.

Belief #7: It’s So and So’s Fault

Whether due to stress, false promises, or lack of a good plan, we like to blame others for our mistakes. We miss a workout or eat something we regret and it’s easier to blame our kids, a coach or friend, or a partner.

This puts the responsibility on others to change your behavior, when what you need is their support in helping you troubleshoot the situation so you can change your behavior.

Solution

Taking responsibility for your nutrition and physical activity makes you accountable to the only person who can lead you to success: Yourself!

Belief #8: I Can Will This Fat Off

Willpower is a finite resource, and once it’s gone, there’s nothing between you, that pizza you’re dreaming about and the couch. Not only do we run out of willpower as a diet progresses, but stress demolishes willpower.

Solution

Instead of white knuckling your way to lose a few pounds, develop healthy, sustainable habits that allow you to lose fat without the misery and struggle that most people suffer.

Belief #9: All Extra Calories Are Created Equally

Most people have accepted the fact that a calorie isn’t a calorie when it comes to comparing refined carbs like cookies and whole carbs like vegetables. But many people still think that all excess calories end up being stored as fat. According to one study, when people over-ate protein, getting about 800 extra calories of protein a day, those calories got deposited as lean tissue and they gained zero body fat.  

Solution

This doesn’t mean that you should go around gorging on protein, but it does mean that you can intelligently design your diet with different macronutrients and whole foods to promote satiety and weight management.

Belief #10: I Just Need To Eat Clean To Lose Fat

Although avoiding processed foods in favor of whole foods makes it easier to achieve an energy deficit, it’s not a surefire way to lose fat. You can still overeat healthy foods, whether it’s strawberries, rice, sweet potatoes, or almonds.. Then there’s the fact that for many people who are new to healthy eating, a “clean eating” mindset incorporates “rules” and off-limit foods that end up tripping people up when they fall back on all-or-nothing thinking.

Solution

Instead of worrying about if a food is “clean” or not figure out a way of eating that allows you to avoid excessive hunger and cravings. Unprocessed foods can help you make this happen, but don’t get sidetracked moralizing about food when you’re real goal is to create an energy deficit!