1) You’re Eating Too Many Carbs
This should be pretty obvious to most people by now, but there are still the old die-hards out there who swear that everyone should be consuming two grams of carbs per pound of bodyweight every day while maintaining a low fat intake. Load up on whole grains and fruit while cutting down on healthy, essential sources of fat like grass fed beef they’ll tell you.
Anyone experienced in physique transformation knows this is nonsense.Most people have a terrible tolerance for carbs, shitty insulin sensitivity and simply don’t do enough physically demanding work to warrant too many carbs. If you want to get lean cutting carbs is usually one of the first and most important steps you need to take. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any but you need to make smart choices and they need to be taken in at the right times and cycled properly.
2) You’re Eating Carbs at the Wrong Time
If you’re above 20% body-fat pretty much any time is the wrong time. In that case I would only recommend vegetables and possibly some post workout potatoes or a once per week refeed. When you get down to 15% you can increase the amount of carbs in the post workout meal or the weekly refeed. Everyone else should limit carb consumption to post workout and night time, as per The Renegade Diet rules. During the day you want to be alert and focused, which is one reason why you don’t want to load up on starchy carbs during this time. Save for them for the night time when you want to optimize serotonin production and rest, relax and repair.
3) You’re Eating Too Much Fat
Some people cut carbs and assume that they’re good to go and there’s nothing else to worry about. Unfortunately, the low/no carb diet isn’t as much fun as Dr. Atkins made it out to be. You can’t just eat pounds of bacon and mayonnaise with reckless abandon and think that you’ll magically end up ripped. Fat contains calories; nine per gram to be exact. At the end of the day total calories still matter, and if you’re eating more than you burn you’re never going to get ripped. Please don’t mistake this as my advocating a low fat diet. That’s just as bad, if not worse, than eating too much fat. A bare minimum of 20% of your calories should come from healthy fats like pastured egg yolks, wild caught salmon, grass fed beef and coconut oil to ensure optimal health. Just be careful about going overboard with it and thinking that low carbs automatically leads to single digit body-fat. You still need to keep a handle on things like total calories.
4)You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
In my experience it’s usually only females who are guilty of this but guys can make this mistake on occasion as well. The average female who can’t lose body-fat usually eats a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast with an egg. One… single… egg.
Then she’ll have a sandwich for lunch with four ounces of lean turkey. For dinner it will be a salad with low fat dressing and four ounces of chicken or fish. Although, in all honesty they may skip the protein all together and just have a salad for either lunch or dinner. Let’s assume she weighs 135 pounds. Most experts would agree that she would need to consume at least 100 grams of protein per day, if not a gram per pound, which would equal 135 grams. Each ounce of protein is around 4.5 grams of protein. So in this example she had 36 grams combined with lunch and dinner plus the six grams from the egg. So that’s a total of 42 grams, which falls just a wee bit shy of where she needs to be.
Females often freak out when you tell them to eat more than six ounces of protein at a sitting but when you break down the numbers for them and reveal just how many calories they’re eating it should make more sense. If they had eight ounces of protein three times per day it would 108 grams of protein. That’s only 432 total calories. Add in the fat and it’s still not that much.
People who eat a sufficient amount of protein usually end up having an easier time getting ripped than those who don’t. Make sure you’re getting enough.
5) You’re Drinking Too Many Protein Shakes
There are two problems associated with drinking shakes when you’re trying to get ripped. First of all, whey protein can raise insulin levels, as I have been telling people since the mid 90’s. If you’re trying to get lean you don’t want insulin to be flowing like the Nile all day. You want a nice insulin surge post workout but the rest of the day you want it under control. That’s why The Renegade Diet limits the intake of whey protein to very small amounts during most of the day and only allows a larger amount post workout or at night.
The second problem with drinking too many shakes is that they are so easy to digest that you don’t really burn any calories when you eat them. When you chew down some salmon and broccoli your body works harder to digest that food and you burn more calories during the digestion process. When you drink something that is so easily digested, like a protein shake, your body does almost no work in the process.
So, when getting ripped is your main goal, limit your shake intake and chew as many calories as you can.
6) Your Liver is Over Stressed
This is usually the last thing people think of when embarking on a fat loss diet but it can sometimes be the most important. Everything that goes into or on your body has to be processed by the liver. That means all food, alcohol, suntan lotion, environmental pollutants, etc. If you are constantly exposing yourself to this kind of stuff and overstressing the liver fat loss will be much more difficult to come by. Cut out booze, stop eating grain-fed, chemical laden meat and incorporate some regular periods of intermittent fasting to give the liver a break and you will find your rate of fat loss is noticeably faster.
7) You’re Eating Nuts
I love nuts. I mean, who doesn’t? Give me a bag of pistachios or cashews and I won’t look up till the whole thing’s gone. The problem is nuts have a ton of calories. When you’re dieting for fat loss the rules are usually the opposite of those followed by skinny hardgainers trying to gain size. Those guys want the most calorically dense foods possible. Fat loss dieters do not. You’re better off filling up on nutritionally dense foods that don’t pack a lot of calories, like green vegetables. If you’re dieting you need to limit your nut consumption to about ten almonds per serving. No too many people can eat ten almonds. Most people eat ten handfuls. If you are strictly tracking and calculating everything all day and you want to load up on nuts at certain times I suppose you could but I wouldn’t recommend it. Nuts can be very problematic for a lot of people, especially those with digestive or auto immune issues. As Paleo Solution author Robb Wolf has noted, nuts should be used the same way you use condiments- sparingly.
I should also add, and this is strictly my opinion, meaning it has NOT been proven and posted on Pubmed… nut butters seem to be easier for most people to digest than actual whole nuts. Just something to consider.
8) You’re Eating Fruit
“What?! You’re telling people not to eat fruit!? Everyone knows that it’s impossible to get fat from eating too much fruit!”
Yeah, yeah I know, that’s why physique competitors eat so much fruit and why all fat loss experts who specialize in getting people shredded recommend such high quantities of it. In our hunter gatherer days fruit was nothing like what you see in the supermarket today. Berries were small, dark and bitter; not the huge sugar sacks most people consume these days. Don’t get me wrong, fruit is healthy and can be eaten by lean individuals in limited amounts but any type of excessive fructose (a sugar found in fruit) consumption will lead to fat gain. Fructose can only be processed by the liver and once liver glycogen stores are full the excess gets converted to triglycerides and stored as body-fat. If you want to get ripped cut fruit completely for a while or limit it to one to two small servings per day. Just be sure to really up the vegetable consumption so you can keep your vital nutrient uptake where it needs to be.
9) You’re Not Training Heavy
When you want to lose body-fat the first inclination is often to crank up the reps and cut the rest periods. I actually have no problem with fairly low rest periods. But not if you’re used to resting three minutes between sets and all of the sudden cut them down to thirty seconds because you decided it was time to get shredded you’ll be in trouble. That never works. All that happens is your weights start plummeting on every exercise and you get weaker and smaller. High reps have the same effect.
When dieting, the primary role of strength training is to maintain muscle mass. That is the single most important thing. Don’t use it as your primary “fat burning” activity… UNLESS you are seriously overweight. If you need to lose more than fifty pounds or so that would probably be fine (although please don’t ever do any of the bullshit you see on those fat camp TV shows). Females can actually get something out of metcon workouts in the right situation as well. The caveat, however, is that that they need to be strong and actually have some muscle mass. If you take a weak female with no muscle and give her a silly metcon circuit she won’t usually get much out of it because she’s too weak to produce enough force. Females should get strong first before they attempt that type of training.
If you’re a guy and are trying to lose 10-20 pounds of body-fat without losing all your muscle mass in the process you should use strength training as a way to maintain size and strength; nothing more, nothing less. So the same principles that helped you get big and strong apply when dieting. Keep the reps low and the resistance high.
10) You’re Overdoing Cardio
Traditional forms of cardio are largely useless for fat loss. But useless is even okay, it’s when it starts to be counterproductive that we have a real problem. Excessive amounts of cardio lead to an overproduction of cortisol which leads to more abdominal fat and numerous health problems. If you want to do cardio that won’t actually hurt you and could do you some good, go for a long walk. No self respecting man should ever be spotted on an elliptical machine.
Sled work builds muscle, burns fat and is irreplaceable
11) You’re Not Running Sprints or Doing Sled Work
Dieting is the most important thing for fat loss. After that you should be doing some form of strength training to maintain your muscle mass. When you have those to things dialed in you’ll want to add in some type of sprinting or sled work. There is nothing more effective for fat loss. See all wide receivers, defensive backs, sprinters, soccer players, etc. for proof. Two or three 20-40 minute sprint or sled sessions per week will be enough for most people.
Don’t have a sled?
12) You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep
When you’re short on sleep your insulin sensitivity decreases and your cortisol goes up. Both things lead to less than optimal fat loss. You also miss out on the critically important Growth Hormone boost that comes each night during deep sleep. If you want to lose more fat you have to get more sleep. Most people will ignore this and some of you are probably reading this at 2am. Unfortunately this just might be the most important thing on the whole list. More sleep improves EVERYTHING. Make it a priority.