6 Diet Mistakes You’re Making, According to a Personal Trainer

This might be why you're not seeing results at the gym.


Photo by: artursfoto/iStock


“I’m crushing my workouts. Why am I not seeing any results?” Sound familiar? As a fitness professional, I hear that question all too often. The answer lies between your fridge, pantry and those empty take-out containers. Yes, abs really are made in the kitchen.

That’s why my first follow-up question to clients is always diet-related. In order to see change in the mirror, we have to emphasize nourishing our bods just as much — if not more than — working them out. So what food faux pas are prohibiting you from seeing major gym gains? Here are 6 must-know oversights to tweak STAT to get back on track.

Carbs are your nemesis. For far too long carbohydrates have been known as the black sheep of macros, when in fact they are crucial energy sources for hitting those PRs. Carbs, especially digestion-supportive resistant starches like legumes and whole grains, can keep you feeling satiated. Forty-five to 65 percent of the average adult’s daily caloric intake should be made up of carbohydrates, according to the Institute of Medicine, so break out the brown rice.

You’re over-supplementing. Sport gels, bars and powders may claim to boost energy — alongside a laundry list of other health performance benefits — but at the end of the day, they could be categorized as glorified candy. While there are certainly whole food-based products that are great for on-the-go, many still stocked on your grocery store’s shelves are overly processed and loaded with calories and chemicals. Rule of thumb: If you can’t pronounce or define an ingredient on the label, ditch it!

You aren’t hydrating enough. We know that we need to drink plenty of water to keep ourselves effectively moving and grooving, but what we often overlook is the power hydration has on our body mass index (BMI). In fact, studies have shown that boosting our intake can lead to greater weight and fat loss. According to The Institute of Medicine, women should consume 2.7 liters of fluid per day, while men should down 3.7 liters.

The scale is your BFF. Fat loss doesn’t always equate to dropping numbers on the scale. And if your goals are to tone, even gain muscle? Well, those digits will most likely go up and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! The only scale I ask my clients to have is one for their kitchen. That’s right, there are no weigh-ins required with this gal because I believe that we are more than just a number. Instead, I ask for progress photos as a visual reminder to not let the scale rule you!

You’re overindulging on cheat days. Overdoing it on high-fat foods may spike your blood sugar and insulin levels, sparking future cravings and combatting all of your hard work. For years I, too, skimped on my favorite crunchy snacks and all things dark chocolate as I (impatiently) waited to reward myself on Sunday. But as I’m sure you can relate, come the end of the week I went ham — leaving my gut a wreck, my workout the next day mediocre at best and overall sparking a struggle to keep a healthy relationship with food. That’s why I don’t separate foods into “good” or “bad” categories. I also try to eliminate associated guilt from the equation altogether by giving in to cravings here and there in moderation.

The bar is besting you. Booze is often the first thing people cut back on when committing to a healthy lifestyle however as we know, sometimes we just need a drink. Or two. So are those sips detrimental? According to a 2014 study in the journal PLOS One, athletes consuming six screwdrivers three hours post-workout experienced a 37 percent drop in protein synthesis. Translation: The muscle’s growth process (i.e. building and restoring) decreased as they drank. Interestingly enough, if they chugged a whey protein shake prior to slamming vodka, their protein synthesis only lessened 24 percent. Moral of the story: Be sure to recover properly post-workout before ordering your first drink and, of course, drink responsibly.

Lauren Seib is a pug mom, personal trainer, online coach and group fitness instructor based in Stamford, Conn. Her credentials include NASM CPT, Spinning®, RYT 200 and Barre by exhale.

*This article was reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.

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