Dirty Dozen Diet Pitfalls

Dirty Dozen Diet Pitfalls

  1. Being too impatient
  2. Doing too much exercise
  3. Lack of a support network
  4. Thinking “diet”.
  5. Following fad diets.
  6. Too few calories.
  7. Not weighing your food.
  8. Needle chasing.
  9. Taking treats you ‘deserve’
  10. Neglecting to plan a soft landing.
  11. Depression
  12. There really isnt a number 12

Being Too Impatient

Surprisingly the main reason that people fail to lose weight is not that they are too lazy or lack willpower. On the contrary, the main reason that people fail is that they are too impatient. They think that the harder they work and the more they punish themselves with drastic caloric deprivation, the faster the weight will come off. This is a sure fire recipe for failure. It took years or decades to gain all that fat and you cant expect to turn things around on a dime. It can take a full year or more to get your weight down to healthy levels again.

Doing Too Much Exercise

People who are too impatient often think that the more exercise the faster their fat will come off. The problem is that overdoing the exercise is a sure way to get injured and then game over. Things like running are really hard on the body, especially when you are overweight. You have to stick to low impact exercises like walking, swimming, or biking, and even then you have to be careful not to overdo it.

Lack Of A Support Network

This is one of the toughest things to deal with, the fact that your friends and family are not supportive of your weight loss. Rather than rooting you on and telling you that you can do it, hang in there, they tell you to “live a little” and have a piece of birthday cake.   They leave candy and cake all over the house and are constantly begging you to go out for pizza.  Find yourself a good, supportive online community like sweat4health that can help provide the support that your friends and family dont provide.

Thinking “Diet”!

Although diets can help you lose fat short term, they always fail long term – why? Because you go “ON” a diet, you are already admitting that its a short term thing and when you go “OFF” – guess what happens? Yep, fat comes back.  Its the vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting that so many people get stuck in.

Its a new lifestyle, not a diet!

Dont be one of those people who loses dozens of pounds a year only to gain it back, its WAY too much work and there IS an easier way!

The only way to keep the bodyfat off long term is to change your lifestyle, its that simple. You change your eating habits, you can increase your activity level, or both. To be most successful really requires a bit of both. You need to make exercise part of everyday life, even if it is just biking to work every day or going for a little walk at lunch.  Its also helpful to learn to like a few foods that are less calorie dense – vegetables, legumes, and whole grains for example.  Thats all it takes!  It doesn’t have to be major changes, just a few minor lifestyle changes made really add up over the course of a year.

Following Fad Diets

Weight loss is a huge industry, every month there is another fad diet book hitting the bookstores and the talkshow circuit. How can one differentiate between a dangerous fad diet and a good nutritional plan? First of all, don’t be snowed by the authors credentials – use your own good judgment and critical thinking to decide for yourself if something makes sense or not. More than one dangerous, useless fad diet has been touted by a unscrupulous medical doctor interested in making lots of money on book sales. A sure fire sign of a fad diet is some “mysterious weight loss property” like the grapefruit diet suggests. The only thing mysterious is why so many people fall for this ridiculous diet.

The most dangerous misconception about diets is about weight loss. Weight loss is not the same as fat loss. When you weigh less on the scale, it can be because you have lost fat (good), you are dehydrated (bad), or you have lost muscle (very bad). If you weight loss diet is a poorly designed one, like most of the fad diets, then you will lose muscle as well as fat!  You want good solid nutritional plans like the ones that the free custom meal planner provides so that you only lose FAT and not muscle.  In fact, with good nutritional plans like the ones at custommealplanner, there is no reason you cannot gain muscle while you are losing fat.

Read more about fad diets.

To Few Calories

This is probably the biggest pitfall of all for dieters. So many dieters wait way too long to start their fat loss plan and then “have to” lose the weight really, really fast.  Less calories is not better! You need to eat less calories than your maintenance to lose weight but cut them too much and you lose muscle.  Do you want to lose muscle??? I thought not!   If you have good, clean nutrition a 20% deficit is safe. A 25% deficit might be safe and any more is not safe. For cutting as fast as possible without losing muscle I recommend a 25% caloric deficit.  So plan ahead and start your calorie cutting soon enough so that a 25% deficit will get you to the bodyfat percentage you  want at the given date.  If you need help setting your cutting targets, please use custom meal planner to come up with a meal plan that will optimize your *fat* loss, not muscle loss!

Read more about four biggest cutting mistakes.

Not Weighing Your Food

The problem is that the margins are very tight. As I mention above, we want to be right in the 20% to 25% caloric deficit to lose fat at the optimal rate without affecting our ability to gain muscle.  The average person needs about 2500 calories to maintain their weight and 2000 calories a day to optimally cut. You need to get your daily calories to within a hundred calories of that 2000 number and there is now way in hell you can do that by eyeballing your portions. You have to weigh everything because as I mention before if you cut too much you lose muscle, don’t cut enough and you don’t lose any weight at all. WEIGH EVERYTHING!

Needle Chasing

Chart a good nutrition/exercise course and HOLD it for at least 3 weeks without alteration! There is a really good reason for that. When you change your eating habits it can take a LONG time for your body to reach a new equilibrium, especially if you change your macros as well as lowering your calories. A lot of the weight you lost in the first week will be water only so its no wonder your loss rate slows down. Hold your course!  Do not look at the scale needle every morning and let that determine how much you eat and exercise that day!  Big mistake!  If you use custom meal planner, weigh all your food and are honest about the number of hours of *strenuous* cardio you do per week, I guarantee you that you WILL lose fat!

Taking treats you ‘deserve’

People who are chronically overweight have this thing about “deserving” treats. They have a bad day at work so the “deserve” that cake with dinner. They have dieted hard all week so they “deserve” pizza. Let me tell you the hard truth, the reason you are obese is that you have eaten food that you do NOT deserve! “Deserve” has a simple scientific definition. If in a given month you have burned off the exact same number of calories as you have eaten, then you “deserved” all the calories. If you eat more calories than you burned off then you did not deserve the calories AND YOU ARE GOING TO GAIN FAT!  If your eating is tied to depression, stress, eating disorders, or other mental problems then the only way you are going to lose fat is to seek medical help.

It is very hard to get a caloric deficit in a day, most people are lucky to get a 400 calorie deficit on a consistent basis so over the 6 days you have a 2400 calorie deficit over the six days. So, do you deserve a treat? How big?  Well one supersized big mac meal deal will completely neutralize the fat loss you would have had for the week.  One single meal and an entire weeks worth of fat loss is GONE!  Think about that!  If you DO have a treat, you need to count the calories and make sure that you do not go over your TDEE for the day.

Neglecting to plan a soft landing

When you reach your target weight with your low carb diet, its reason to celebrate!  Remember though,  you cant go back to eating like you used to eat or you will go back to being as obese as you used to be!  Losing the weight is only half the battle, the other half is keeping it off!  Just a little more work when your diet is “over” can keep you from having to do the whole agonizing weight loss thing over again.

The soft landing can be used, and should be used, with any weight loss diet.  Just as you had to train yourself the proper portion sizes to lose weight, you need to train yourself what the proper portion sizes to maintain weight are.  If you are someone who is doing a low-carb diet, its even more important because *what* you eat is going to change.   You need to start planning now for when you have reached your target weight and go off the diet because unless you make some serious changes, the fat you lost will come right back on.  What you need to do is what I call the “soft-landing”.  Rather than a flash-cut from low-carb to your old eating habits in one day, spread out the transition over a month.

Read more about diet soft landings!


In many people, fat gain is caused by mental health issues like depression or the drugs used to treat these conditions.  So how can you avoid depression?  In most cases you need the help of a mental healht professional but still, do what you can.  Daily exercise could very well have a definite mood improving effect so if you can at all, exercise every day even if its just walking for 15 minutes.


There were really only 11 pitfalls and I didnt want to make one up just to make it an even dozen :)