If you’re striving to be a high-performer, you probably have a difficult time already juggling between the various aspects of your life.
Ignoring physical fitness often results in low energy, sluggishness, impaired libido, sleep problems, and of course, fat gain.
However, most busy professionals struggle to achieve optimal fitness, despite regular attempts at various workout protocols and diets.
I often use my science-based approach to nutrition & fitness and my background as a triathlete and coach to help people reduce fat with minimal disruption to other aspects of their life.
Here are the top 3 mistakes I see (In the next post, I will give you my top 3 tips on achieving results with minimal hassle)
Mistake #1: Working out hard AND restricting calories at the same time
- This is the most common mistake and almost always backfires. If you’re a busy professional/parent/entrepreneur, your stress hormone (cortisol) level is already high: Cortisol “shuts down” fat burning.
- Add “hard workouts” to your daily routine, and now you’re pushing Cortisol even higher, leading to even lower fat burn.
- Add “calorie restrictions”, and now your body goes into a genetically coded “starvation mode” designed to help you survive “famine”. This further increases cortisol.
In addition to restricting fat burning, higher cortisol levels lead to lower melatonin (sleep hormone), impaired ability to build muscle, and increased risk for diabetes.
Mistake #2: Following “mainstream” diet advice
If “mainstream” advice worked, we wouldn’t have the obesity problems we have today. What is “mainstream advice”? It’s essentially- eat low fat and eat your grains.
Science has repeatedly shown that this concept is completely flawed and has actually resulted in an explosion in obesity, diabetes and heart disease since these guidelines were introduced 30 years ago. The tide is shifting (new US guidelines removing limits on fat consumption), but here is the quick summary of the main issues with this approach:
- You are born as a “fat burner”. Avoiding fat and eating high amounts of carbs lowers your body’s ability to burn fat by switching off the necessary enzymes to break down fat for fuel.
- Eating carbs frequently throughout the day means your body never has to tap into fat stores: it’s getting “new” energy all the time from carbs!
- Your hormones, cell walls, and insulation for your nervous system are made of fat (saturated fat in most cases), and eating “low fat” deprives your body of necessary nutrients, causing it to be stressed (see Mistake #1 regarding stress/cortisol)
- The medical community knows that there are essential amino acids (protein) and essential fatty acids (fats). There is no such thing as “essential carbohydrate”.
Mistake #3: “More is better” mindset
This is probably the biggest mistake I see: “I’m not losing weight, so I must work out more and eat less”.
Of course I’m not referring to people who don’t work out and have a messy diet.
When you’re working out hard and dieting but not losing weight, your body is telling you: “you’re putting too much stress on me, I’m going into survival mode by storing more fat and shutting down all unnecessary functions. Not to mention that you’re already stressing me out with work, family, lack of sleep, money worries, etc. I’ve had enough”.
So your reaction when you try to work out and diet more is akin to responding to your body’s objections by saying: “oh yeah? Well guess what, I’m going to DOUBLE the amount of stress that you’re under, let’s see how you handle that!”
Guess who has the last word on this…
In the next post, I will provide you with my top 3 tips for achieving successful body composition with minimal stress and without pushing your body into “survival mode”, and without shoving other aspects of higher performance out of the way.