People hate to hear this because they wanna eat what they want and just be able to do a few exercises. And unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. A lot of what you’re hearing simply isn’t true. And you never have to follow advice that doesn’t work for you.
Before we get started. I don’t wanna say that this advice is necessarily wrong because people are highly individual and some things will work for certain people. But when we’re talking about the majority (and I have been in this game for a long time, coaching people for over 20 years).
I’ve seen what works with most people and it’s often not what you’re hearing out there.
Ignore The Scale
So recently I’ve been hearing more of the advice to ignore the scale.
And the idea is that the scale is not a perfect measure of your fat loss progress. And in that case, you’re not gonna see those numbers change.
The scale is actually quite accurate for weight loss results. For most people, if you have 30 or 40 pounds of weight to lose, and there’s no change in the scale from week to week, then you haven’t put on 30 pounds of muscle and lost 30 pounds of fat. You’re just not losing weight and you’re not losing fat.
And I do caution people, especially those who are prone to eating disorders, or just getting obsessive with numbers, not to focus only on this scale.
What Wanting To Ignore The Scale Usually Means
Now over a decade ago, when I still used to work in gyms, I would weigh some of my clients on a weekly basis. Whether or not that’s a good idea, that’s a discussion for another day. But what happened with one of my clients is that on certain days he just didn’t wanna be weighed. He was just like, “No, no, no, not today.”
And I knew exactly why that was. He knew that he had been overeating and he knew that he hadn’t been consistent with what he had planned for himself in order to lose weight. So he knew that the result wasn’t going to be good and he didn’t wanna see it.
And he didn’t want me to see it either, which I guess that’s a whole other thing when you work with people, one on one there’s that issue of compliance. So I can give whatever advice I want, but it’s the client’s choice, essentially, whether they’re gonna get the result.
Exercise is only going to do a small part and most of the result is going to happen through the nutrition. My client didn’t wanna face the reality of his situation.
You Can’t Manage What You Don’t Measure
Ignoring the consequences of your behavior, doesn’t make it go away. But it shouldn’t be used to make you feel bad either. So if you see that the scale is going up, then maybe you just want to refine your nutrition a little bit, cut back on something and make a change.
But if you’re not tracking anything and you’re just like,”Oh, the scale it’s irrelevant. It doesn’t matter.”
Well, it does.
Because you can’t manage what you don’t measure. So if you’re not weighing yourself and you’re just going by, whether you feel like you might be losing weight, that’s not really a good way to monitor your progress.
I think that the scale on a regular basis can be a good tool for most people.
Using Measures Of Weight Loss Progress
However, it should be used alongside other measures of progress, like your measurements, progress pictures, and then also performance goals.
Maybe how much weight you’re lifting, how many cardio sessions you did that week, maybe the speed at which you are running. Other things that can be goals rather than just weight loss. Because I don’t think it should be purely outcome based in terms of your goal. You should also have some progress goals that can make you feel better and keep you motivated along the way.
Who Should Avoid The Scale
And for some people, the scale is just not a good idea because they have a bad relationship with it.
And it makes them really nervous and upset. The scale may not be a good tool at all.
Doing Lots Of Cardio For Weight Loss
Have you heard that you need to do lots of cardio to lose fat? Well, you don’t, and that’s not to say that cardio can’t be a contributor to fat loss. It can certainly help you get into a calorie deficit, particularly if it’s used in conjunction with a calorie restricted diet and you don’t need to do a ton of cardio.
I always recommend that people stay physically active, so they feel stronger and more energetic. And that tends to increase motivation and make you feel good about your choices and your lifestyle.
The Benefits Of Cardio
Cardio does help you burn calories and it’s good for your heart. And hopefully you’re concerned about your health as well, but people get too fixated on cardio for fat loss or weight training for building muscle. The reality is that nutrition is going to make the biggest difference with your fat loss.
I generally say 80 to 90% of your weight loss result is going to be down to your diet.
People are always looking all over YouTube for the perfect exercise to get six pack. Abs you might wanna check out THIS VIDEO if you’re interested in that.
Losing Fat And Getting Visible Abs
But I always preface it by saying that most of the result of getting abs is down to getting leaner through an appropriate diet. So if you are still carrying a lot of fat over those abs, you’re never going to see them. So while cardio may help you on your fat loss journey, it’s not necessary in order to lose fat, you can do no cardio at all and still lose fat. You can do no cardio at all and still have a visible six pack. I’ve gone through phases in my training where I didn’t do any formal cardio still tried to stay active by walking.
My Experience Without Cardio
I was just doing weight training and keeping a close eye on my calories and my diet. And I was able to be quite lean without cardio.
I’m not saying that skipping cardio is the best way to lose weight.
Research actually shows that a combination of exercise and a calorie restricted diet is the best option for a long term weight loss. And that’s what I encourage you to do. And a combination of cardio and weight training also seems to be best for long term weight loss, but strictly speaking, you don’t need cardio for fat loss.
So if you can’t do it for some reason, don’t worry. You can still lose fat. You can still lose weight. Tell me a little bit about your journey right now. What kind of combination of training and exercise are you doing to get your results? And here’s another bit of advice you can safely ignore and still lose weight.
You Need To Cut Carbs
I’ve heard so many people say I need to lose weight. I need to cut my carbs. And this one kind of gets me a little bit because low carb was actually what got me to long term balancing my diet and being able to stay lean without doing anything extreme. It kind of got me in control of my weight after years and years of yo-yo dieting. And just trying to manage my weight and
How Low Carb Diets Can Help With Weight Loss
Low carb diets do help you lose weight quickly.
Initially, some of that is gonna be water weight. But the main thing that they do that’s helpful is they help manage your appetite and your cravings, especially cravings for carbs. Having less of a desire to eat naturally leads you to eating fewer calories. And that’s essentially, what’s going to get you. Your fat loss is being in a calorie deficit, your body burning off more calories than you’re taking in, in the form of food and drink.
But when high carb and low carb diets are equated for both calories and protein, then research shows that they’re equally successful for weight loss. You don’t need to be low carb in order to lose weight. It is a helpful strategy for many people or like me. Some people can start off there and then slowly increase their carbs as they’re better able to manage their appetite and their cravings, but low carb does not automatically equal weight loss.
The REAL Issue With Carbs
Let’s talk about the word carbs. It’s short for carbohydrates. And you know, what’s a carb, vegetables, fruit beans, grains, and legumes. Although beans and legumes tend to also have fat. They’re primarily carbs. So a lot of healthy recommended foods have carbs. So it’s not really the carbs themselves that are an issue. I did a video about how you can include bread in a weight loss diet.
There are some people who will tell you that because your insulin levels are high. You won’t be able to lose fat, but that’s not actually true.
In fact, you could be eating just carbs bread all day, and you can still lose weight. If your calorie intake is low enough to get you into a calorie deficit.
What Carbs Really Are
When most people say carbs, what they actually mean is things like pizza and ice cream, French fries, and chips and donuts and muffins and other baked goods. Now these are not just carbs.
They also have a lot of fat and they’re very calorie dense. So that means that in a relatively small serving size, you pack in a lot of calories. You know what else is like that nuts, nuts are also like that. And there aren’t many carbs in most nuts. They’re primarily fat with a little bit of protein for some the problem with all these highly processed refined carbs is not that they, they have carbs, but that they have a lot of calories in a small serving.
They’re very easy to over consume as anyone who’s seen me with a type of ice cream. Well, no, they’re often called hyper palatable foods because they taste so delicious. So yes, you want to reduce those types of highly processed foods.
Cut Out “Junk” Food
But the next advice that you can ignore and still lose weight is cut out junk food. So we’ve just talked about how these hyper palatable foods can make weight loss challenging, but that doesn’t mean that you need to eliminate them completely. So I call these foods treat foods rather than junk foods, because I like to keep it positive when it comes to foods.
A lot of what I do is helping people heal their relationship with food so that they don’t feel guilty about it, and that they’re able to enjoy it. After perhaps years of deprivation, I enjoy food, even highly processed refined foods that used to make me feel guilty.
Reduce, But Don’t Eliminate Junk Food
I think it’s fairly clear why we wanna reduce these foods for the sake of weight loss or for our health. But the reason that I think you should include these foods, at least occasionally, is that it’s not sustainable to go without them forever.
I mean, I guess if you’re a Buddhist monk living in a temple and you’re only restricted to certain foods, then maybe. But if you’re living just freely in society, you might wanna go to some parties or restaurants or barbecues, or maybe just to a friend’s house, then you really wanna include some of these foods. Only the ones that you enjoy in your diet.
It’s really hard to eat some sort of mythical perfect diet, and it really doesn’t exist anyway. So I don’t think you should really strive for it. Include the foods that you really love and have them in smaller quantities than you had them before.
And maybe less frequently than you had them before. There are certain things you might wanna eliminate for me. I don’t really like French fries and I’m not really that big a fan of chips. So I don’t eat those, but I do enjoy chocolate and ice cream and the occasional slice of cheesecake. So those are the things that I keep in my diet in smaller quantities.
Why Restricting Foods Too Much Doesn’t Work
What happens to most people when they restrict themselves excessively, is that it intensifies their desire for that food.
In my twenties, I tried to go weeks or months at a time without having any treat foods just through sheer force of will. And what happened was that I became in increasingly preoccupied with food. I used to think about it all the time. I used to dream about having those foods. And eventually I would end up binging on large quantities of those foods.
Then I would try to restrict myself again and it was up and down for many years before I realized that if I allow myself smaller amounts and don’t feel guilty about it, then I can have a better long term result. So now I enjoy these foods fairly regularly without guilt.
And I cannot emphasize that last part enough because guilt does nothing good for most people. It only makes you feel bad about yourself. A lot of us, when we feel bad, we eat more food, particularly our favorite comfort foods. So it’s not a cycle that’s going to help you.
And spoiler alert. I’m leaner. I get to enjoy the foods that I love in smaller quantities, and it’s far less stressful.
Eat More Often Or At Specific Times
And the last weight loss tip that you can ignore is eat more often. Or at specific times, we used to think that you needed to eat more regularly in order to stoke your metabolism.
That was the terminology that went around for a while.
Now recent research has shown that it really doesn’t matter what time of day that you eat. You don’t need to eat many meals in order to lose weight.
Your metabolism is just gonna keep humming along. What really matters is what’s convenient for you in terms of the timing of the meals.
I tend to go with three meals and maybe one snack. And that works for me. It’s the overall calories that you consume over the course of the day. That really matters. So eat later in the day, if you really want to, you can eat later at night, even carbs, and you’re not more likely to store them as fat than if you ate them early on in the day. People still have the idea that you have to burn those calories off during the course of that day, but you don’t need to.
Your body will balance things out over time.
Not Eating Before Bed
The one thing I do normally recommend is keeping your last meal about two to three hours before you go to bed. And this is more to prevent digestive issues for me.
I get acid reflux as we get older, our digestion is also not as strong. So what didn’t bother you before, maybe just eating and then falling asleep straight away may very well become a problem later on.
And for most people, it will still interfere with their sleep. In some way, you might not really notice it, but the next day you might be feeling sluggish. And if you’re doing that regularly enough, if you’re tired, you eat more, you probably aren’t exercising as much and it can spoil your weight loss efforts.
Intermittent Fasting And Skipping Breakfast
And you can also skip breakfast, which is essentially intermittent fasting. As long as you eat well throughout the day, maintain your calories for a calorie deficit and you don’t have a tendency to overeat later on in the day. I do generally recommend not to go too long without eating though, because what usually happens if people are really, really hungry, they tend to overeat at that next meal.
They might consume things that are higher in calories.
They might end up binging on too much food, or they’re more likely to choose foods that are higher in calories. More of those treat foods, comfort foods that are going to add more calories to the daily total.
Follow The Nutrition Strategy That Works For You
The main message that I want you to take away is that nutrition should be highly individualized for your needs and preferences.
You don’t need to follow the rules that people are giving you. Some of them are based on bad science or misunderstanding of the science anyway, or just following what we used to think a long time ago.
What A Calorie Deficit Is
As long as you get yourself into a calorie deficit, there are many strategies that can help you lose weight.
A calorie deficit is when your body burns off more calories than you’re taking in through food. So it’s going to use its internal storage of energy, which is your body fat. And that’s what you want. If you’re looking for fat loss, you want your body to dig into those fat stores. Are there any other popular weight loss tips that you’ve ignored and been successful? Share your story with me in the comments.