We're watching our calories, we're hitting the gym regularly... but our weight stays on that cruel weekly rollercoaster ride we know so well. What are we doing wrong?
We skip breakfast. How many times have we heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” and yet still we “run late” and use our so-called busy lifestyle as an excuse to skip our morning meal. (We all know what we are really doing is just sleeping in after binge-watching Netflix the night before.) But then we use our absent breakfast as an excuse to eat one of those cellophane-wrapped cheese danishes from the gas station Quik Mart on the way into work. Those empty calories won't keep you from grabbing snacks throughout the day, but a full belly from a high-protein breakfast will.
We are not getting enough protein. The right diet is more than just calorie-restricting, it is muscle-feeding. Growing muscles burn calories even when you are off the treadmill. You should be consuminga minimum of 0.68 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight each day, and around 30 grams of protein per meal.
We dieters aren't eating enough, period. We pride ourselves on how few calories we survive upon daily, as if we were Name That Tune! contestants guessing songs with a minimum of hints. The dirty secret is that our bodies won't let us starve ourselves, at least without putting up a fight, no matter how foolishly we set about trying. Not long after you stop eating your body will enter a metabolic starvation mode and will ramp down its needs – to the detriment of things like your cognition.
We trust those calorie counters at the gym. Those dials on the treadmills and elliptical machines are usually woefully inaccurate. But the counter told us we just stair-mastered off 750 calories, and so we feel we're entitled to that extra chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie at the gym's cafe. Use those calories as relative metrics to gauge your exercise progress, not as absolute indicators of a particular work-out's benefit.
We believe that “Cheat Days” are A Thing. Sometimes our sense of entitlement carries across to a full one-seventh of our diet. We believe that since we have been “good” all week, we owe ourselves a beer or a piece of cake on the weekend. What we are actually doing is erasing days of good behavior and conditioning, not to mention calorie loss. Pace yourself for the long run, and don't deny yourself any of the foods you love – just eat and drink them in smaller portions.