If you’re frustrated with hard workout efforts but not seeing the changes you want…
At least one of these are holding you back.
Maybe all 9 of them.
Grab a pen, take notes and take action:
There’s ‘eating healthy’ then there’s eating for your goals.
If there’s 1 thing a kit-kat and packet of almonds have in common, it’s calories.
The thing with ‘superfoods’ like nuts, seeds, avocado, and oils, is they’re very high in calories.
These foods are great in small doses.
But they’re mostly dietary fats, which contain more than double the amount of calories in protein and carbs.
I see too many people snacking on nuts all day when they’re trying to lose weight and wonder why they’re not getting anywhere.
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10-15 nuts are likely the most any full-grown man needs in a whole day.
Might seem obvious.
But if the scale weight’s not going down and you’re not seeing visible changes in your progress photos, a lot of the time it’s because you’re eating and drinking way more than you need.
Try keeping a food diary for a week or so to give you a birdseye view of what’s going on, or try tracking your calories to see where you’re over-consuming.
From there, take action and cut back on what you don’t need.
From the second you start eating it takes 15-20 minutes for your gut to send signals to your brain and let you know that you’re satisfied.
Since most men eat their meals faster than Usain Bolt sprints 100m, they’ve already eaten way more than they need before they know it.
And because the food isn’t chewed or digested properly, it causes digestive stress, bloating and you absorb way fewer nutrients than you would if eaten slowly and mindfully.
Here’s a simple rule to follow at mealtimes:
Put the cutlery down between bites, chew the food properly, try actually tasting the stuff before it hits your stomach, and you never know, you might start actually enjoying your food whilst losing fat more easily.
Of course, cardio burns energy. But it doesn’t mean you’re burning fat. (neither does sweating for that matter).
Too much long steady-state cardio overly increases cortisol in the body (often known as the stress hormone), which is strongly correlated with belly fat storage.
It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. It’s great exercise and contributes to better health if you use it properly. If fat loss is the goal, it shouldn’t be the bulk of your fitness. The same goes for HIIT training, too.
I’ve seen too many cases with clients who’ve previously lost weight and didn’t look, feel or perform any better for it.
Usually, they’ve followed a mixture of HIIT type bodyweight workouts and cardio.
After fixing their training routine and making them stronger with 3-4 short strength-focused workouts per week, a little less cardio and HIIT, they always lose fat and look more athletic.
If you’re not training those muscles properly, your body will eat away at them more than your fat stores for fuel.
So, make weight training or/and bodyweight strength training your priority.
And who wants to be a weakling, anyway?
PS – There’s a lot more to weight training than just training your chest and biceps. Don’t be that guy. Take a full-body approach.
PPS – Just so we’re clear, running doesn’t count as strength training for your legs. They need attention, too. Got it? Good. Moving on…
This is probably most important above all else.
If you’re not sleeping well, and you’re stressed out all the time, you’re not going to get in any form of good shape.
And you’re certainly not performing well at your job, or being at your best around the family, either. So adding in more hard exercise to your routine can make things worse if you don’t manage it properly.
Being stressed or sleep-deprived messes up your hormonal balance and your digestion too.
And besides all that, you’re always gonna stress-eat and fall off the wagon as coping strategies.
You need to fix this first.
I know it’s easier said than done, but you need to overcome it. Here’s a few tips to action on:
1) Create a bedtime ritual.
2) Have a consistent bedtime and wake time.
3) Get 7-9 hours sleep.
4) Stay off screens 30-90 minutes before bed.
5) Take social media apps and alerts of your phone.
You don’t need to be hooked to that all day long, if someones really needs you, they’ll call.
7) Spend more time outdoors.
8) Exercise daily.
Drinking fluids uses way less energy than eating solid foods.
The biggest energy output you have is your metabolism.
By eating more solid foods and fewer liquids, you use more of those calories for digestion.
Think protein shake Vs a steak.
Or orange juice Vs an orange.
Cut the liquids and up the solids.
If you’re getting lots of your food (or protein) from protein bars, shakes, cereals, you’re missing out on fat loss (and health) benefits of whole foods.
The less processed a food is, the more energy it takes to digest. And they always come with more fiber and nutrients, too.
Think cereals or instant oats Vs steel-cut, rolled or old fashioned oats.
As soon as you start training properly your protein demands go up.
It’s also one of the most satiety fulfilling nutrients there is.
A lot of my clients who previously struggled with appetite find after they start training for a few weeks, their hunger levels go up.
By this time we’re ready to start working on their protein intake which always fixes the hunger and furthers progress in fat loss.
When you don’t get enough, you lose muscle, feel hungry and get cravings that make you crack at the first sight of the biscuit tin.
Make sure you’re getting enough.
Aim for 6-8 palm-sized portions of lean meat, fish, eggs per day.
Or if you’re more of a numbers guy, get 0.8-1g per 1lb of body weight.
I hope this helps.
Get after it.
PS – If you found this article helpful, it would mean the world to me if you shared it with someone else who needs the help.
Dean McMenamin is an Army veteran, father, dog-lover and online nutrition & exercise coach helping busy men transform their bodies, regain self-confidence and be healthier role models for their kids. He's also a big eater of ice-cream.