Mistake #1: You fail to plan your week of eating
When training increases, appetite may increase, too. This is why it is important to have healthy snacks on hand to prevent cravings for the less healthy (and far too conveniently accessible) treats and drinks. Stock up on raw and unsalted nuts, divide a larger 1kg tub of plain or Greek yoghurt into smaller ready-to-eat containers, and boil eggs in advance to leave in the fridge (in the shell) for up to 4 days.
Mistake #2: You’re prioritising shakes over real food
Supplements like protein shakes may play a role as an emergency meal or snack if it helps prevent you eating junk instead. However, be cautious of using shakes too frequently as this will add to your overall kilojoule intake for the day and not support weight loss goals. A serving of protein shake is usually around 3 eggs worth of kilojoules and recovery drinks with carbs and protein as much as 4 slices of bread with 2 – 3 eggs! Remember that shakes need to supplement the diet (i.e. take the place of the food version) and are not in addition to your kilojoules for the day. Compared to food, these supplements may lack nutrients like fibre, vitamins and minerals that enhance good health, and being liquids don’t bulk as much in the stomach as solids.
Mistake #3: You’re eating either too little or too much for your training
You can eat all the protein you can stomach but if you’re not training sufficiently, any excess kilojoules, whether from carbs, protein or fat, will be stored on the body as fat. To lose weight, you need to consume less kilojoules then you burn each day. While running tends to burn a high amount of energy, don’t undermine and overvalue your training by treating yourself to a slice of chocolate cake (Paleo or not). Limit treats to once or twice per week and in controlled portions. On the other hand, you can spend a lot of time training but if you follow a diet too low in kilojoules to support the high energy action of muscle building, you won’t build muscle either.
Mistake #4: You expect results too quickly
Just like it didn’t take you a week to gain the weight or increase your body fat, it won’t take a short week to see results. For weight loss, an aim of 500g to 1kg per week is normal. When it
comes to gaining muscle, if you are training and eating well, you can aim to gain at most 300 – 400g per week. Often,we forget this and expect results quicker than is healthy for the body.
Mistake #5: You are inconsistent with your diet
You eat amazingly well Monday to Friday but come the weekend you let go completely. Consistency is key with any successful eating plan and training program. Rather than go to extremes, find a comfortable grey area with your eating. It may help to have a treat during the course of the week to nip cravings in the bud early. Never have more than two bad meals in a row and have smaller cheat meals rather than larger cheat days.
Monique is a registered dietitian at Nutritional Solutions in Bryanston, Johannesburg. She has a Masters degree in dietetics and is a PHD candidate. She has a keen interest in the role of good nutrition to optimise performance and recovery in athletes. Read more about Monique Piderit