| | Five Pitfalls to Avoid In Your Diet

Author / Rob Exline

5-7 min read

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life, you made the decision that you wanted to optimize your body – both its performance and its composition. We keep reading stories and hearing about how obesity is on the rise in most developed countries. Here in the US, it’s gotten to the point where there is genuine concern by the military whether they will be able to meet their enlistment quotas due to how many people are overweight and unfit. The modern world with all its conveniences has created many factors that contribute to this spike: sedentary lifestyle, psychological issues, processed foods, and food abundance just to name a few. And usually, we’ve gone a decent ways down the wrong path before we realize we need to turn around.

Unfortunately, in a world where we can have whatever we want delivered to our doorstep within 3-5 days, the path back to health is not so quick – it requires discipline and consistency. And once we start the journey to course correct, we invariably run into snags. Either we get fast results that suddenly slow drastically, or worse yet, no results at all.  What went wrong? You followed the instructions, you watched all the YouTubes, but are still having issues.

Here are some of the most common pitfalls we’ve seen here at Power Athlete with our nutrition clients that usually cause them to get hung up. Once we’re able to identify which one (or ones) apply to them, we’re able to help them figure out how to overcome the obstacle and get them back on the road towards their goals.

The Hang Ups

1.      You aren’t tracking food intake. There is a saying in business: what you can measure, you can manage. So if you aren’t tracking, you don’t know how much food you are shoveling down the hatch. How easy is to track? Well…it depends how much effort you want to put it. The easiest way involves next to not tracking at all – just building your plate to a predetermined template (ex. split into thirds, 1/3 protein, 1/8 of the plate starchy carbs, and the remaining 1/2 veggies with a little oil). Or, you can weight and measure everything; more complex for sure, but you’ll have a much better (and more accurate) understanding of what your intake truly is.

2.      You are tracking…but not tracking liquid. You have a food journal already, awesome! What did the macros look like in that morning coffee order? The one you got with heavy cream…you know, that one. What about that afternoon energy drink? Or that random health drink? How about those “two” drinks you had at the Happy Hour? Oh…you didn’t track those? Yes, liquid calories count too – and they can really run the score up on you if you’re not watching them. Don’t let these liquid calories send your clean eating down the drain.

3.      Weekend food orgy. Monday through Friday noon, you are brilliantly tracking your food and crushing your workouts like a champ. You may even get a solid Saturday burner in at the gym. But then it’s like like Loverboy said, everybody’s working for the weekend. Saturday afternoon is college game day at the bar – followed by dinner out with the crew. Sunday mornings are for brunch (#obvi), then onto another bar to watch NFL Sunday, which means you won’t be getting home until after that Sunday night game. One off-script meal is acceptable; heck, it’s even encouraged, both for your social life and general sanity. But an entire off script weekend can undo what you worked so hard to stick by during the week. Don’t be weird, but do be disciplined.

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4.      Your food quality is poor. There are some on the internet that lead you to believe good quality doesn’t matter. All that matters is calories, and if you balance them enough, you an eat whatever you want and still lose weight! Technically, yes this is true – you can lose weight if you carefully balance these calories. But there are a couple pitfalls. Typically, these markets adds mention very high calorie foods, meaning portion control is critical. For instance, one large slice of pepperoni pizza from Pizza Hut is 299 calories, 117 calories from fat, 136 calories from carbohydrates, and 48 calories from protein.  But are you going only to eat 1 slice?  Very unlikely. And more importantly, what’s the nutrient breakdown from these foods? You can lose weight by weighting and measuring Twinkies, but are you getting the nutrients you need? Hint: NO. Real, quality foods are the name of the game here.

5.      Your sleep is terrible. Poor sleep quality will affect weight loss in several ways. Sure, you won’t recover from that bout of hard training you did. But, did you know you’ll be hungrier throughout the day? And, you’ll crave and respond to higher-calorie comfort foods. Combine this with a being sleepy and you have a higher likelihood of putting your willpower to the side and giving in to some poor nutritional decisions. I mean, think about the last time you were sleep deprived (maybe from those “two” happy hour drinks); did you wake up craving some chicken breast, white rice, and broccoli? Probably not.

The Solution

If you are not achieving the desired results, you might be doing one or all of these. Take a scientific view of your action plan. Put yourself under a microscope and be willing to call BS on yourself where you’re falling short. Where you focus your efforts is an indication of your success in anything. Wanting a certain result is great; it’s the first step. But just wanting isn’t enough. You must dig in and do the habits and actions that lead to the desired outcome. Sometimes, you may need a coach to help walk you through the process. Click the link below to connect with one of the Power Athlete Nutrition Ninjas that can make this difficult process much easier.  And while you’re at it, sign up for one of the Power Athlete programs and put that great diet advice to work!  

Related Content

COACHING: Power Athlete Nutrition Coaching

PODCAST: PA Radio Episode 651 – Hitting Reverse On Your Diet

EDUCATION: Power Athlete Academy

BLOG: Making Calories Count by Hunter Waldman

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St-Onge, M.-P., Wolfe, S., Sy, M., Shechter, A., & Hirsch, J. (2013). Sleep restriction increases the neuronal response to unhealthy food in normal-weight individuals. International Journal of Obesity, 38(3), 411–416. https://doi.org/10.1038/ijo.2013.114


Rob Exline

Rob has been in the fitness/strength and conditioning industry for 21+ years. For the last 12 years, he has owned and operated CrossFit West Houston. Through CrossFit, Rob found Power Athlete the methodology course and earning his Block One. Nutrition is a passion which lead him to currently pursuing a Masters program in Nutrition at Lamar University and Power Athlete Nutrition coach.

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