- More cardio and less weights.
When we’re restricting calories, the last thing our body needs is more stress. And by “stress” I don’t necessarily mean the kind caused by high credit card debt, but rather, the type we apply on our body through physical activity.
This is where most people get it wrong. They assume that since their primary goal at the moment is fat loss, they should put the weights down and jump on the treadmill – big mistake! The more cardio you do, the more you stress your body – and although a moderate amount can be healthy, too much of it can land you in a chronic state of stress, thus inhibiting your body’s ability to recover.
- Too little protein
Bottom Line: Try to get at least 1g per pound of bodyweight in protein, consistently, and consider increasing that amount a bit as you get further into your fat loss phase.
- Too little carbohydrates
We have been programmed to believe that carbs make us fat. Wrong!
Truth is, any active individual who weight trains regularly should never avoid carbs. Blood glucose and muscle glycogen are the most important elements in the formula for maximizing physical performance – training in a state where muscle glycogen is depleted is a recipe for decreased performance and muscle loss.
I’ll also add that despite what you may read on the internet by self-proclaimed fitness “experts”, research shows that carbs are inefficiently stored as body fat when overfeeding. In a state of underfeeding, however, it becomes virtually impossible.
Bottom Line: If you want to maximize your performance in the gym and maintain as much muscle as possible, consume as many carbs as your calorie intake will allow (after meeting your protein and fat needs) while remaining in a deficit.
- Too much volume
One of the biggest mistakes trainees make when dieting is attempting to maintain both volume and frequency of heavy training. Problem is, when calories are restricted for a prolonged period of time, recovery is impaired. And if we don’t allow our body adequate recovery, it results in loss of strength due to overtraining.
- Losing too much fat too quickly
Weight loss is simply a matter of energy balance. If we can burn more calories than we consume, we lose weight; however, if we want to maintain our hard earned muscle mass, we’ve got to be a bit more strategic. Decreasing calories while increasing physical activity, at the same time, creates an unnecessarily large energy deficit. And although this will result in faster fat loss, it also makes you much more susceptible to losing lean body mass.
- "Light weight, high reps"
Don’t get me wrong: high rep training has a time, place, and a purpose, no doubt. But decreasing intensity while in a caloric deficit is the fastest way to end up skinny and weak. The reason for this is simple: if we train with light weight (low intensity) for an extended period of time, we lose the strength and size adaptations we worked so hard for.
Bottom Line: We can (and should) reduce volume, but never intensity. The best way to maintain strength is to train as heavy as you did to develop it. The better we do at maintaining strength, the more muscle we can retain.
- Clean eating
As stated earlier, it’s not just about what you eat, but how much you eat that determines the amount of body fat you’ll lose.