Ask anyone with a six-pack and they’ll tell you that a great physique is often built more in the kitchen than in the gym. And it’s not just that you can’t put down the junk food. A lot of guys think that they’re making the right choices, but those well-intentioned miscalculations could throw off your gym progress or set back your weight loss goals. Here are three of the most common mistakes and how to fix them to get back on the road to a better body.
You might think, “the less calories in, the more calories I can burn.” But starving yourself is an empty victory. The foundation of long-term fat loss is building muscle. And if you don’t put in enough quality fuel, you’ll see your muscles shrink more than your waistline while also messing with your metabolism.
Use a calorie calculator like MyFitnessPal to work out how much you should be eating every day. Then track your daily food intake to ensure you’re getting roughly 30% of your calories from fats, 40% from carbs and 30% from protein. A recent study found eating double your recommended daily allowance of protein (approx. 110g) boosts muscle growth and fat loss.
Eating Too Much at Night
You’re rushed in the morning, so you grab something on the go. Maybe you eat a sandwich at your desk for lunch and a little something when the munchies strike around 3 pm. Then, like most men, you save your big meal for dinner or end up gorging after a night out. But then you’re stuffed and go to bed with a belly full of food that you’re not burning off.
Learn to embrace the old saying: breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper. A Spanish study found that dieters who ate their main meal before 3 pm lost significantly more weight than those who ate later in the day. This held true even though the early eaters were consuming roughly the same number of calories as their late-night counterparts. Eating the bulk of your calories early will not only provide you more energy throughout the day but it also gives your body more time to process the calories.
Cutting Out All Carbohydrates
We could all be eating less carbs—that’s probably a given. But those who have heard this message over and over and are now cutting out all carbs, you’re likely depriving your body of necessary fuel for workouts and for brainpower. Without some good carbs, you’ll be sluggish, foggy and generally feel like crap.
Reduce your overall carbohydrate consumption, but don’t cut them out completely from your diet. Try to eat them early in the day, and make sure you’ve got the right kind of carbs such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Not overly processed junk. Vary the amount you consume based on how active you’ve been that day. For example, on days when you haven’t been vary active, eat less carbs. And if you want to cheat and have a piece of cake, the best time would be after a hard workout.