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The real reason you’re not losing weight

Start shedding body fat faster by dodging these common – but easily avoidable – weight-gain traps, says New Body Plan editorial director Joe Warner

When you’re desperate to lose weight there’s few more frustrating feelings than thinking you’re doing everything you can, yet days and weeks go by with those bathroom scales refusing to budge.

Or when you do finally start dropping the pounds, it happens so slowly that it seems like it will take forever to get the results you want, and you wish there was a way to put your foot down on the accelerator to speed up your fat-loss journey.

Don’t worry – all is not lost! The chances are that you’re making one or some of the most common mistakes that can undermine even the most well-intentioned fat-loss plan. Read on, see which ones apply to you, then eliminate them from your life to burn fat faster and achieve the lean, fit and healthy body you want!

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You’re a slave to the scales

I mentioned bathroom scales above with good reason: stop stepping on them Why? Scales are a notoriously unreliable method of tracking your fat-loss efforts because your weight can fluctuate hugely hour to hour and day by day, based on many factors, including how much you’ve recently eaten and drunk.

They also fail to differentiate between fat and lean muscle mass: if you’re lifting weights you’ll build new muscle and burn off fat to look and feel so much better – but the number of the scales may well stay the same or even creep higher! Taken in isolation this can be devastating for your morale and motivation. Don’t get distracted and disheartened and raise your risk of throwing in the towel by using the best methods to monitor your fat-loss progress.

You’re having portion problems
You think you’ve cracked it. You’ve cleared out the cupboards and stocked the fridge with all the fresh, natural and wholesome foods that will now form the basis of your healthy-eating nutrition plan. You know that if you eat like your grandparents did – lean meat, fish, fruits and vegetables; nothing processed nor any food that has its own TV advert – the weight will melt away.

So far, so good. But you still need to be aware of portion control because – quite simply – if you consume more energy than you burn you’ll gain weight, and to lose it you need to expend more than you eat. It is possible to work out how many calories you need each day, as well as how many calories you’re actually burning, but a far easier way is the Perfect Portion approach to meal-making, and it’s the best method we’ve found to start eating for a leaner and healthier body.

You go wild at the weekend
You know that burning more calories than you consume is the cornerstone of losing weight. But even if you eat well Monday to Friday your efforts can be more than undone by a big weekend of piling down all those foods and drinks you’ve deprived yourself of all week.

Say you eat in a calorie deficit of 250 calories Monday to Friday, which is a perfectly achievable aim if you exercise and eat smart. Keep that up through the weekend and you’re on track for a weekly deficit of 1,750 calories. Fantastic – you’ll be shopping for new jeans in no time!

However, if you go wild at the weekend and consume an extra 750 calories on Saturday and Sunday you’ll end the week having eaten 250 calories more than you burned. That might not sound much, but you can’t lose fat if you’re in a calorie surplus. And it’s likely you’ll eat far more than that if you’re not conscious about what you eating or how much of it.

If you want to lose weight without giving up the foods you love Monday to Friday so you don’t end up on a weekend binge, try the 90% Nutrition guide for eating for fat loss. It allows you to eat well for most of your meals, but you can still have whatever you want 10% of the time. It’s a fuss-free and fad-free way of losing weight quickly without every worrying about what to eat.

You’re drinking without thinking
It’s called a beer belly for a simple reason: the excess calories from too much alcohol are one of the big reasons for weight gain, and amongst people who consume alcohol, these drinks account for up to 10% of their daily calories intake. Indeed, according to the UK government, 3.4 million Brits consume an additional days’ worth of calories every week from alcohol – that’s an extra 91,250 calories in a year! If you don’t want to give up booze entirely then there are some smart drink swaps to cut back on the calories.

But it’s not just alcohol that’s the problem; many other drinks can be highly calorific yet 80% of people are unaware of the calorie count of most common drinks, and typically underestimate how many when asked to guess. Fizzy drinks, milky coffees and fruit juices are packed with sugar and best avoided; have sparkling water with fruit slices for a no-calorie soda, and have tea or coffee black or just with a splash of milk.

You go through the motions
If you’re serious about shifting your spare tyre then you’d be smart to follow a progressive, weights-based training plan, such as those in the New Body Plan range of fat-loss programmes. It’s your best chance of building the body you want in the least amount of time, because following a tried-and-tested approach that’s already worked for thousands of people removes all your nagging doubts and uncertainties from your mind about whether you’re “doing it right”.

Nothing that saddens me more in the gym than seeing the same guy go through motions, doing the same moves with the same weight with the same bad form every session. He once told me that I “just can’t work out why I can’t get back into shape”. I could.

If you’re not sure what exercise programme is right for you, just take the 60-second New Body Plan Quiz to find your perfect fat-loss plan.

To find your perfect transformation plan, take the New Body quiz!
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