Sunday 24 March 2019

15 ways you sabotage your weight loss

Here's how to avoid undoing all your good work
Here's how to avoid undoing all your good work
There are mistakes which can be avoided in your weight loss efforts
Water is a big part of the fat-burning process.
Running free on a chilly morning
Magnesium is especially abundant in green leafy veg
Alan Williams Newsdesk Newsdesk

Fitness coach Alan Williams has seen it all in the decade he's been helping people achieve their weight-loss goals, and believes that effort is often undermined by the same knowledge gaps and mistakes. Here's how to avoid undoing all your good work

We're Dehydrated!

Water is a big part of the fat-burning process.

Water is a big part of the fat-burning process. Even if you do very little training, you should aim for 2 litres of water every day. If you train hard, you should be aiming for 3 litres to replace water loss during your training session. If you are properly hydrated, you won't fatigue so quickly, hence getting more from your workout. Often, when we think we're hungry, we're actually dehydrated. Drinking a pint of water can make you realise that you're actually not hungry at all, so water also contributes to calorie control. Green tea is also an excellent metabolism booster and counts towards your water intake.

Skimping on Green Veg

Magnesium is especially abundant in green leafy veg

Green veg is packed with nutrients which keep you looking and feeling your best. You can also eat a lot of these foods without having to worry about the calorie cost. Broccoli, cabbage, kale, green beans and spinach are some of the healthiest foods on the planet. Root veg, such as carrots and parsnips, are higher in sugar. You can still include them, but green veg should be the cornerstone of your veg intake.

3 Associating the word 'Fats' with 'being fat'

Eat healthy fats. People get scared off by the word 'fats' but healthy fats are a key part of a healthy diet. They also help keep you full, therefore avoiding unnecessary snacking during the day. Examples of healthy fats are nuts, seeds, avocados, fish oils and extra-virgin olive oil.

Unsure of Snack Options

Soft fruits need plenty of space to grow.

Eat berries and citrus fruits. These are a great snack option as they are lower in sugar than many of the more popular fruits. Berries are also big on antioxidants which help fight disease and illness. Citrus fruits are well known as a great source of vitamin C, but they also provide many other essential nutrients. Eat higher sugar fruits, such as bananas and grapes, in moderation.

Spending unnecessary money on Protein Supplements

Protein is essential to getting lean. It aids in muscle growth and repair. It also helps keep you full, again avoiding unnecessary snacking. Aim to get some protein in each meal. Good sources of protein are chicken, eggs, turkey and white fish. I get a lot of questions from clients regarding protein shakes, but my number-one tip on this is to get as much protein through your diet as possible. Most people don't require shakes. Protein bars are also heavily processed and can actually be quite high in sugar. Keep it natural, focus on quality food sources.

Effort is often undermined by the same knowledge gaps and mistakes
Effort is often undermined by the same knowledge gaps and mistakes

Looking for a Quick Fix

Short-term diets do not work. You may lose weight initially, but that's because you're in a huge calorie deficit. Not eating enough food will cause some unpleasant symptoms in the short term. You will feel fatigued and may experience dizziness and nausea. Your skin, hair and nails will also suffer. You may even experience hair loss, due to the lack of nutrients. In the long run, you may experience joint problems, cardiovascular disease, and mood swings.

Low calorie diets have even been linked with depression. The more you do crash diets, the more your metabolism slows down, and that can be very difficult to reset. Once you bring calorie intake back to normal levels, you'll put the weight back on, probably with interest. Take a long-term, sustainable approach. If weight loss is your goal, a sustainable amount is averaging 1-2lbs a week

Ignorance of Food Labels

Food labels can be confusing.

Every day, I meet clients who don't know how to read food labels. They look at the front of a packet and from that, they make a decision on how healthy the product is. The front of a packet is designed by marketing experts to sell the product. The nutrition information on the back of the packet is where the facts are. For the sake of ourselves and our children, we need to learn how to read labels and take back control of what's going into our bodies. It's not difficult when you know how, ask your local nutritionist or fitness professional.

Addiction to Processed Foods and Sugar

This is where the real issues lie. Our lives have become so busy that more and more people are turning away from eating real foods and taking the 'convenient' option. Processed foods and sugar are the reason we have so much sickness. Get back to cooking meals from scratch, with natural foods.

Sugar is nine times more addictive than cocaine. You have sugar, you get a brief energy rush, then a slump and a craving for more sugar. Break the cycle. Initially, use fruits and nuts as a replacement to wean yourself off it. From working with hundreds of clients, I can safely say that these two factors make up the vast majority of problems with the diet of the average person in Ireland today.

Telling Ourselves We Need a Gym membership
Running free on a chilly morning

Some people believe this, for others, it's subconsciously an excuse. Your own body is your best piece of equipment. You can put a great workout together with bodyweight exercises such as push-ups, squats, sit-ups, star jumps, burpees etc. Or if you're a complete beginner, start with something a little less intense: walking, running or cycling. So many people join gyms and then never use them or don't know what to do when they're there. Save your money and get the basics right, a gym is not required.

Nothing to Work Towards

Set goals - this is what keeps you on track. Goals should be clear, concise and specific. Vague goals don't work. There has to be an end date on your goal. Then you have a crystal-clear picture of what you want to achieve. For example, if I say, 'I want to lose weight', that won't work, because it's too vague. But if I say, 'I'm going to lose a stone by Christmas Day', now you're crystal clear on the target and it gives you a much greater chance of success.

A Weight Off

Woman exercising.jpg
10 things to know before you join a gym. Photo: Getty Images.

Don't fear weights, they can only benefit you. Incorporate resistance training. The more lean muscle you have, the more fat you burn and the leaner you look. Resistance training can be bodyweight or lifting weights, but include it in your program to maximise results. Ladies, you won't get bulky! Cardio training alone may help you lose weight, but it won't give you the shape you're looking for. Incorporating resistance training will take you to the next level.

Failure to monitor Progress

Don't guess, monitor what's changing. And remember the scales is only one method of doing this. If you include resistance training, you will be gaining muscle so you may not see such a difference on the scales. But look at tape measurements, body-fat percentage and feel the difference in your clothes.

Take progress pictures. All of those methods don't lie, sometimes the scales does. I sometimes have a battle to change mindsets on this one as ladies in particular are so used to the scales. However, once they see the difference and how great they look, they never look back!

Lack of Self Belief

Believe in yourself. This is key to achieving your goals. There will be setbacks along the way. What's important is how you react to them. Never give up. Put complete faith in yourself, commit fully to a healthy lifestyle and believe in yourself 100pc. When you do that nothing, or nobody, can stop you achieving what you want to achieve.

Negative Attitudes

I'm a big believer in the power of positivity: whether you think you can or you can't, you're right. A positive mindset is crucial. Negative thinking inevitably leads to failure.

Surround yourself with positive people who will support you on your journey. When things get tough, acknowledge your progress to date. Always focus on the positives. That ultimately will lead to success.


Take action. This is where most people fall down. They have all the information, goals are in place and then they do nothing about it. Fear of failure is what holds most of us back. Today, I want you to believe in yourself and make a decision that you are going to achieve those goals. Don't put it off until tomorrow. Take action now!

* Alan Williams is a nutrition and fitness coach who specialises in online weight-loss programs, through healthy eating and exercise. For more information, check out

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