Losing weight isn't easy. You could do everything right – change your diet to try and eat healthy, go for long walks or set time aside to exercise, even doing fasted cardio or trying fad diets – and still come up short in the results you might have expected. For many, this might be frustrating enough to give up on the mission altogether.
But before you despair, run through this checklist from trainer Jeff Cavaliere. A hugely famous trainer and YouTube fitness star, Cavaliere runs the Athlean-X YouTube channel and spent three years acting as a physio for the New York Mets baseball team. Check out the video below:
Watch Jeff Cavaliere's five common weight loss mistakes here:
1. Exercise isn't the fastest path to weight loss
You might be searching how to get a slim waist, or how to lose weight from your thighs, and think exercises like sit-ups or squats might be the right way to achieve those specific results. Unfortunately, this isn't the case – you can't "spot reduce" fat, unfortunately, it clings to some places easier than others – but Cavaliere says diet is actually the key, rather than exercise.
"We know that spot reduction isn’t possible, but beyond that, it’s the idea that exercise is the fastest path to weight loss that is flawed". Cavaliere says we need to focus on changing our diets, taking in less calories in total, and more healthy food specifically. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise we do – as long as we do enough during the week to offset what we do eat.
2. Fasted cardio
One of the biggest weight-loss trends right now is fasted cardio, doing exercise on empty to encourage your body to burn fat. But running on empty is a horrible experience, and studies (opens in new tab) show it makes no difference to our fat-burning, regardless whether you eat before or after a run.
"When it comes to cardio, research has yet to prove that doing cardio in a fasted state provides any additional benefits to fed cardio," writes Cavaliere in his YouTube video description. You're more likely to enjoy your workouts if you're not starving – and you're less likely to get up and do fasted cardio if you dread it every day.
3. "Clean eating" mistakes
Chicken. Fish. Vegetables. Rice. All of these foods are cornerstones of a healthy diet, and it's easy to swap out pizzas and pies for these tasty, healthy alternatives. However, what if it's a breaded chicken katsu curry, dripping with thick, creamy sauce?
Cavaliere recommends that we shouldn't consider ourselves clean eaters just because we've swapped a single ingredient. You may eat chicken or fish more, but was it prepared in a healthy way? Soaked in vegetable oil and roasted, or tossed in a little olive oil and lightly grilled? Once you begin to look at the way your food is prepared, you’ll start to discover all the different changes you have to make in the way we approach food to lose weight.
4. Diets with names
Keto. Atkins. 5:2. Intermittent fasting. If you're planning on dropping weight rapidly, it's easy to jump on board a heavily restricted, well-marketed eating plan and watch the lbs drop off. But unless you're planning on sticking to these diets forever (and some of them are so restrictive, it would be all-but impossible) you're inevitably going to put weight back on once these diets end.
Cavaliere recommends "long term lifestyle solutions" rather than quick-fix diets. Slow, sustainable weight loss and muscle gain is the best way to go about it, rather than hoping for an instantaneous drop in fat.
5. You've given yourself a target date
This tip ties in very closely with the last one. If you've got a big event coming up, like a birthday, wedding or big social function, you might be tempted to try everything to look good for it, only to pile the weight back on afterwards.
As Cavaliere mentioned, slow, sustainable lifestyle changes are the ticket rather than quick fixes. Don't put a date on your weight loss – a healthy life is for, well, life, not just for the Christmas party.
Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and News Editor at Fit&Well, covering all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen runner, gym-goer, and infrequent yogi. His top fitness tip? Stretch.
Best resistance bands 2022 for building strength
Buying guide We tested the best resistance bands to improve your strength and flexibility
By Meg Walters • Published
It only takes 20 minutes to build upper body strength and muscle with this workout
Workout This upper body circuit is quick to complete and effective for developing muscle and improving strength
By Jessica Downey • Published