You've set your sights on enjoying the warm summer months with your leanest body ever, but time's passing quickly and you're still sporting a bit of extra winter weight. So, you embark on a quest for the perfect diet plan! With only a few weeks to spare until you're on vacation, you know you need something intense. Here's where you have to be careful.
Commit to a quick-fix crash diet, and you could actually move away from progress rather than closer to your ultimate goal. Don't think it could happen to you? Don't be so sure. Many people damage their metabolism on a daily basis without even realizing it, and then they wonder why they aren't seeing results.
Your metabolism is responsible for determining precisely how many calories you burn on a daily basis. If it runs sluggish, your fat-loss engine will, too. Avoid these eight metabolism-wrecking mistakes to ensure your metabolism stays in high gear for the weeks to come!
Mistake 1 Poor Protein Intake
When many people hop on a diet, their protein intake plummets. As calories go down, common sense might have you believe that protein should decrease accordingly. This, however, is incorrect.
When you reduce your caloric intake, you actually need to bump up the amount of protein you consume. This helps prevent muscle mass loss which, should it occur, will halt your metabolism in a hurry since muscle is metabolically active tissue.
As you restrict calories and torch fat, be sure to target 1-1.5 grams of protein per pound you weigh each and every day. This number may seem high to some, but it will help you maintain lean mass and ensure your body doesn't dip into amino acids for energy.
Mistake 2 Dieting Too Soon
Another vital error that can mangle your metabolism is starting a diet before you've built a solid base of lean mass, especially if you're already quite lean.
If you have a lot of fat to lose, it's wise to shed some before you focus on building muscle. However, if you're looking to go from lean to ripped and have very little muscle on your frame, you're far better off focusing your efforts on a clean bulking phase first.
Having added muscle on your frame will give you more metabolic ammo so when you do finally diet the process moves along faster and easier. In addition, if you're dieting to reveal a shredded physique, you need to accrue a decent amount of lean mass to reveal!
Mistake 3 Doing Too Much Cardio
Do you consider yourself a cardio king or queen?
If you're not familiar with the term, it describes someone who devotes far too many hours of the day to low-intensity cardio training. It starts out innocuous enough: You spend 30 minutes per day on the treadmill, stair stepper, elliptical, or your cardio weapon of choice. At first, you see moderate results. You then decide to do twice as much cardio to double your results.
Up goes your cardio commitment! You see slightly better results, so you decide to add even more cardio. What if you went twice every day? Imagine the fat burning potential! The problem: You'll eventually hit a wall.
"You can't possibly constantly continue to increase your cardio more and more just to earn better results, or else you'll be living in the gym," explains Jen Jewell, who sees this happening all too often. "It's a vicious cycle."
Once you get to that point where it takes hours of cardio to maintain your current body weight, you'll feel trapped. Your body will adapt to all this cardio and, in time, you will stop seeing the results you once did. Always keep that in mind.
So, what should you do? Drop the slow-paced cardio and add a solid dose of high-intensity interval training, like a Tabata program, to your routine! In addition, turn your focus back to food. Remember, greater fat loss will come from changes to your diet, not hours spent on cardio machines.
Mistake 4 Trading Sleep For Training
I understand if you're determined to never miss a beat with your workouts. As you ramp up your fat-loss efforts, you might even start hitting the gym twice per day, once for cardio and once for weights. That's great, but not if it comes at the cost of a good night's sleep.
When you're overworked, something has to give. If it's your sleep time, you've just committed a fat-loss felony. Sleep is imperative for fat loss. It'll not only keep your metabolism stronger, but it'll also help you maintain better insulin sensitivity.
A lack of sleep will also drain your energy, making it nearly impossible to muster the drive to perform intense, fat-blasting workouts. Aim for 8 hours of sleep per night if you want to optimize your metabolism.
Mistake 5 Yo-Yo Dieting
So, you achieved your goal weight and figure you'll add back one of the forbidden foods that previously resided on your do-not-eat list. But, before you know it, your entire diet is filled with the exact foods which caused you to gain weight in the first place!
In a fit of disgust at your lost results, you resolve to hop back on another intense diet to shed the weight. This process, known as yo-yo dieting, damages to the body and may crush your metabolism over time.
With each yo-yo diet attempt, your body will bounce back a little less, until you're hardly recovering at all. "This back and forth form of living is not healthy for the body or the mind," explains Jen Jewell.
Instead, find a diet that you can commit to for good. Even when you're working toward weight maintenance, you should have no problem following the same eating concepts you used to lose the weight in the first place.
Likewise, you also want to avoid the post-success binge-week. "Having a cheat meal after a competition or diet success is one thing," explains IFBB Physique pro Craig Capurso, "but having a binge week after a diet is sure to cause physiological, hormonal, and metabolic damage that can take months to correct."