Discover more from Strong As An Ox
The 5 Most Common Dieting Pitfalls I See (And Avoiding Them)
Make Progress, Not The Same Mistakes As Everyone Else.
If you previously recall, I am an observant type, and contrary to the overwhelming evidence I like to listen more than I talk when dealing with people’s diet and training issues.
In these quasi-therapy sessions, I see a lot of common pitfalls that make people fall short of their goals related to dieting—your issues are likely not unique or that different from the overwhelming majority.
Dieting is far more complicated and has far more margin for error than training does, it’s really not even close. Dieting is very simple in theory, but in practice there are an immense amount of variables that come out to play.
Really, the key is to limit as many variables and moving parts as you can and streamline/simplify the process down to something that is set up in a way that is much more likely.
Those who have mastered their diet will master their physique. While definitely not preferred, you could diet well and not even exercise and still have good overall health, same cannot be said for exercising and having a terrible diet.
Failing Is Normal
This could go down as number 1, but this is the root issue that causes many issues I see with people's success (or lack thereof) in terms of their diet.
You will mess up, you will have moments of weakness and give into cravings, this will happen more than we want and more than most, even your favorite fitness guru, will admit.
You’re not a failure, you didn’t derail your progress, you simply made a micro decision, a micro lapse of judgement, that we shouldn’t have made. Instead of beating yourself up about it, zoom out—look at why this happened, what conditions led to this, what you could’ve done to avoid it, and learn from this negligible shortcoming.
Now, I digress, you are going to run into some, if not all of these issues at some point. I will even tell you exactly what to do and you will still do it, which is fine, but seriously, these are major issues I see slowing down or preventing that 6 pack and a truly elite physique.
1. Guesstimating (Wrongly) How Much You’re Eating
Every single person I’ve ever met who has gone on to track food was completely wrong on estimating how much they were eating—and a majority wrong in a rather significant manner, aka not getting any results.
This is low-hanging fruit and the most obvious of what I’ll list here, BUT it is of absolute necessity to, at the very least, to become familiar with serving sizes and relative calories, but even better, track and measure everything because it’s fun, makes it a game, and gives more diet flexibility.
Go out, buy the food scale, download an app like MyMacros+ (or even better, pay less than $10 a month and have your diet coached via app with Carbon), and start accurately tracking and seeing the inedible results of the laws of physiques
Again, cannot emphasize enough how simple this makes the diet process. If you can simply eat to the numbers you will get the exact result you are going after, it’s science.
2. Keeping “Trigger Foods” In Your House
I don’t care how tough and disciplined you think you are, when you’re in a caloric deficit, especially if for a prolonged time period, your body and mind will start to actively conspire against you to cheat on your diet.
There are hormones, physics/laws of energy conservation, and a lot of factors working against you, so do yourself a favor: MAKE IT HARDER TO FUCK UP!
If you’re anything like me, when you diet you will start to get a little voice in the back of your head trying to convince you it’s “totally okay to eat the sleeve of Oreos, you were looking small today, you need it.”
The best way to avoid eating it (or whatever you crave at your lowest points)?
Don’t have it in the house!
This is definitely harder with kids or family members not on the same pain train to Sufferville, but do your best to avoid having ANY foods that challenge the odds of you being successful with your diet—out of sight, out of mind.
3. Poor Planning and Preparation
This should probably actually be number one.
It’s simple, when left to your own devices, with no real plan, in a pinch because you are short on time and don't think to cook, maybe you grab something quick, something probably from a box or a bag, something you probably shouldn’t have had…
This happens to us all, this can be completely avoided by taking a little extra time to actually plan out our meals and game plan for the day. When you have a good plan, results truly do come almost effortlessly.
This can be as elaborate as you want or as simple as knowing what you’re going to eat and when—this is very important, this is a trait of the most successful dieters on this planet. If you truly want it, you will meal prep and set yourself up for success and do whatever it takes.
Personally, the more extreme you get with this, the more you’ll enjoy it. Not saying this is for everyone, but eating at the same time everyday, eating the same meals everyday, training at the same time, doing cardio at the same time, hell, even sleeping and waking up at the same time on the dot too…
This is how you get into almost a permanent “flow state” where results and success just start happening all around you. It’s super nice, life changing even, like the finest natural high.
Anyway, I digress. When in doubt, remember the “6 P’s”:
Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance!
4. Trying To Rush Results & Diet Too Fast
This goes both ways, for those trying to lose fat and those trying to build muscle, and nearly every beginner gym bros fucks both up at some point.
On one hand you have people trying to rush fat loss, just don’t. This is unsustainable, creates bad relationships and habits with losing weight and body composition, and you’re just probably not going to be successful doing it.
There is a reason mine and so many other good fitness coaches suggest limiting fat loss to 1-2 pounds of fat per week, a 500 to 1000 calorie deficit, realistically the closer to 500 the better.
Losing fat at this rate will be tough at times still, but it’s much more manageable which means you’re much more likely to adhere to your diet and get the results you are after. Not to mention, rushing a diet, creating unsustainable caloric deficit is a fantastic way to lose muscle and strength in the process.
On the inverse of this we have those who try to rush the process of putting on muscle and bulking, another “good idea” a lot of guys learn is very flawed and dumb.
The secret is, muscle doesn’t really need that many extra calories to grow, a 200-300 calorie surplus is all you truly need, some, especially beginners, can even get away with less.
Don’t make the mistake of trying to rush a bulk just to end up putting on a lot more fat than muscle and having to stop your surplus earlier because now you look terrible—a productive bulk should be 16 weeks or more. Don’t put on 10lbs of fat in 4 weeks and have to stop, you will not have put on any real muscle—just fat and water.
5. Not Being Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable
Not only do people fail with their diets here, this is where they come up short in life…
You NEED to accept that you are going to be uncomfortable:
You’re not always going to be motivated, you’re going to hate the idea of eating another boring meal, having another hungry night, going to the gym when you’re dog-tired, waking up before the sun to do cardio, sometimes it’s just gonna fucking suck.
Doing hard shit makes you hard and eventually you’ll realize the beauty in the discomfort, in the suffering, and the fact absolutely nothing great comes without discomfort as a prerequisite.
Don’t ask me “oh but how can I make it suck less”. You already lost.
Sure, I love looking for ways to make dieting less of a chore, but if you’re asking that before even making the effort, and a lot of you do, then you’re missing the entire point.
Big muscles, abs, all that are cool, respected, even admired because they are HARD to achieve.
Once you get acquainted with discomfort and struggle and see that she always leads you to somewhere nice, you’ll start to love her. This is why the gym and fitness are so important—you develop this mental condition and programming with effort and discomfort, it forces you to form a positive relationship with it, and that spills over into EVERYTHING else in life.
So in short, when you’re hungry and feeling sorry for yourself, you have the choice to take another step towards overcoming yourself, of you can just be a slave to comfort.
This is not Legal, Medical, or Financial advice. Please consult a medical professional before starting any workout program, diet plan, or supplement protocol. These are opinions from a Cartoon Ox.