Barriers to fat loss

Barriers to Fat loss !!

In the  quest to subtract body fat.. which I hope you are, Not still trying to LOSE WEIGHT !!!

There can be many things that take you off course and slow down or stop your results, here are some of the common ones 


This is maybe the most common one that derails most people. Scale weight can be really confusing as so many factors affect it.

Carbohydate intake, muscle gain, water intake, salt intake, menstrual cycle, bowel movements ( yes I said it) can all affect scale weight and not the amount of fat or muscle we have !!

So the scales tell us a figure but for a sec lets look at if we weigh a tonne of feathers or weigh a tonne of bricks the size and mass taken up is very different !!!!

Muscle is heavier and denser than fat and commonly why when people start training they will say “” all my clothed for me better but I’ve only lost a pound “

When you don’t understand this fact scale weight can be demoralising and cause people to soon give up the journey and its a crying shame 

The scales are a lagging metric of the journey and portent you may gain weight initially if you gain muscle but this then means fat loss will be more consistent and long term as your percentage of mass in the form of muscle has gone up and metabolic rate goes up in Line with this percentage.

So yes weighing yourself can be very important as one of the metrics you track but measurements, how clothes are fitting, weights lifted, fitness improvements are all more important as if these are all heading in the right directions the sales will follow later !

2. Jumping from fad diet to fad diet

In todays world of influencer insta and tik Tok garbage advice the average person is sometimes left going round in circles from cleanses, vegan, carnivore, atkins, kept, paleo, oreo ( sorry made that one up) but you catch my drift here .

Research always shows one common factor that makes any diet successful … ADHERENCE

Ive worked with clients and athletes who have lost fat on most diets as I always say the best diet is the one that suits your lifestyle and you can stick to LONG TERM

The caveat to that is it has to underpin health and support muscle maintenance so a fast food diet even though it may put you in a deficit isn’t a healthy long term option.

Things I would consider and look for no matter what you choose to do

  • does it hit my daily protein goal
  • Does out hit my daily calorie goal
  • Is it simple to follow
  • Does it provide the fibre and micronutrients daily
  • Am I getting enough healthy fats daily ( omega 3 primarily) 
  • Do I get to include some foods I really like 

If it ticks those you have pretty much cracked it and whichever diet you choose  !!

I will add that a simple way of thinking about your meal plate is

  • is 1/3 to 1/2 plate protein based ?
  • Have I got some veggies / salad on the plate ?
  • After that choice of fats/ carbs can be flexible for most people 

3. No idea on the numbers 

“Im eating really well and hardly eat anything but I’m not losing weight”

How do you know ?

How much protein are you consuming ?

How many calories are you consuming ?

What are your activity levels ?

How many hours are you sleeping ?

We need to track the important metrics or we are just guessing folks !

Long term undereating can be destructive also as the body will start consuming muscle tissue for energy which is the worst possible thing for long term fat loss so tracking is critical here too but in most case people are over consuming and not realising it.

Common things people don’t factor,

  • milk in coffee and tea
  • Butter, spreads etc
  • Oils when cooking 
  • Those little treats throughout the day
  • Reading labels wrong and forgetting what portion of the pack they have eaten and maybe more than the per serving recommended 

In 26 years in this business coaching I see all the above and I see that people under report the foods they feel guilty about eating and overestimate / report the foods they think they should eat and both these combined doesn’t help anyone. 

Honest reporting and self awareness are crucial if you are looking to lose body fat

4. Just focusing on CARDIO

This definitely isn’t a cardio bashing point as doing cardio I essential for overall wellness and cardiovascular health and mental health HOWEVER it isn’t essential for fat loss !!!!!

Yes I did say that…\

I don’t recommend cardio for fat loss, I recommend cardio for getting fitter and boosting vo2 max and boosting dopamine and feel good hormones. All this helps you power through strength sessions and helps you live longer.

For sustainable long term fat loss 26 years has shown me you should have 4 priorities,

  • lift weights and  focus on getting stronger and building muscle
  • Hit daily protein goal of 0.8-1.2g protein per pound target bodyweight
  • Track calories and adjust based in weekly – biweekly results
  • Get 7-9 hours quality sleep per night 

Anyone can get almost stage ready without doing “cardio” if you are lifting weights with sufficient protein and the calories and overall activity are right with steps and overall N.E.A.T and good sleep and time.

So if you are slogging it away on the x trainer or treadmill in the misguided belief that it is the only way or necessary to lose fat I’m here to say it doesn’t have to be that way.

In summary cardio is fab for cardiac and mental health and makes you fitter as long as we train it in a progressive way to get fitter and not just a tool to burn calories and should be included in a. Well rounded programme but it is not necessary for fat loss !!

5. Stress, managing it and doing MORE when you need less !!

I have coached plenty of people who when I look at current lifestyle I find

  • stressed constantly 
  • Poor sleep 
  • Processed food / fast food diet
  • Juggling kids, business, family , health etc

I then see that person who is living on 15 coffees a day getting up at 5am to do HIIT classes 5 days a week ands my advice usually shocks them

  • stop getting up at 5am and doing intense exercise !!!!

If someone is sleeping poorly and stressed we need to tackle these and initially we need to get sleep right and do gentle forms of exercise like walking and getting steps in, pilates, yoga or stretching.

Eat more natural foods and reduce ultra processed foods, get a sleep routine, do Breathwork / meditation and once we reduce the stress and get the sleep tight we can start adding more intense exercise 

If we are not in the place for super intense exercise down rush and get the basics right at the foundation of the pyramid 

Burnout is not good for fat loss as we won’t build muscle, likely no adhere to any plan and snack more and make bad food choices .

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