The 4 most common weight loss pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

If you starve yourself and work out until you drop, you would also lose fat. Clear.

Sustainable … is however something else.

How to keep the weight off? Without hating your life? Without risking your health?

In fact, the "starvation plus brutal workout workload" combo is pretty much as enjoyable as it sounds.

So it’s no surprise that 7 out of 10 people who diet successfully quit, the kilos back on the hips a year later – often even more.1

Moin moin, Jojo effect..

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The 4 most common weight-loss pitfalls (and how to avoid them)

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What is the yoyo effect?

Avoid yo-yo effect provides the following definition:

"The yo-yo effect is the term used to describe an unwanted and rapid weight gain after a reduction diet. Repeated dieting can cause body weight to move up and down like a yo-yo, with the new final weight often being higher than the starting weight."

The causes are many.

If you choose the wrong way to go on a diet, you’ll lose not only body fat, but usually precious muscle as well.

If the energy deficit is too high, your body switches to an ancient emergency program: Your body’s hormonal situation changes radically:

  • body temperature and Drive sink,
  • You consume less Energy (this also reduces your caloric needs).
  • The Mood goes down to the cellar – up to the Depression.
  • Certain metabolic processes are exposed, z.B. women and men can become infertile.
  • etc.

The 30% who successfully change their diet stay on it for life and can look good naked for life.

You’ve learned to avoid the four most common weight-loss traps…

Most people approach weight loss from the wrong angle.

There is a healthy and an Unhealthy way to lose fat.

Even experts, who should know better, often set the wrong focus.

Let’s take the Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI one of the most common indicators when it comes to obesity, not only in practice but also in research.

But there is a serious catch, because the value ONLY takes into account body weight and height:

Who maintains an active Lifestyle, flies with its BMI rather fast from the curve.

I wanted to know exactly and had my body fat percentage measured by DEXA scan a few weeks ago. A DEXA scan is the most accurate way to measure your body fat percentage. You get a fairly detailed evaluation of your physique, which calculates not only your body fat percentage, but also your BMI.

Avoid the yo-yo effect

My result (cf. Graphic):

  • Body fat percentage: 8.3 % (= super!)
  • BMI: 25,4 (= overweight!)

The BMI is not only in my case quite nonsense. By the way, the same applies to body weight as the sole measurement parameter. You can avoid a lot of unnecessary frustration if you adopt the following mindset:

You can forget about BMI and weight. Measure your physique instead!

Where is the difference between body weight and physique? That, and how to determine your physique in seconds, you will learn in this article. Why you should distrust the scale, you can read here.

It’s not just the metrics that matter. Whoever follows marketing promises a la "record time to the beach figure" is ignoring the truth. A truth that many don’t want to accept and is therefore harder to market:

Radical fat loss measures rarely lead to long-term success.

Most diets have a start and an end date. They are doomed to fail. Most diet concepts leave you alone with the question of how to go on afterwards. Many people are even aware of this, but they suppress the problem: "I’ll worry about that when the time comes"!"

Not having a plan is like hammering the nail to the coffin of your dream body yourself.

So let’s face reality. Now.

4 common weight loss traps and how you can avoid the yo-yo effect

If you know the following four psychological weight loss traps and how to avoid them, you increase your chances of success dramatically.

Psychological trap #1: The harder it feels, the more effective it is

Belly off tips against belly fat

FDH, no thanks: losing weight can be fun!

You wake up one day and decide, "That’s it!! The belly comes away."

What would you do?

Some ban everything they like to eat from the kitchen. Turkey breast instead of pizza, eggs instead of ice cream, asparagus instead of sweets. Oh, you Hate Asparagus? Never mind. If already, then already – correctly?

You are top motivated for the first days. You feel strong. You feel .. invincible.

At some point the hunger comes. Then the ravenous hunger. And then the feeling of getting under the wheels of a 16-ton truck…

Some would then sit there and smile inwardly, because they thought they knew that this besch****ne feeling could only mean one thing: It is the fat that is melting.

If you want to be slim, you have to suffer, or??

Solution #1: The more relaxed, the more success!

Many believe that fat loss is exhausting must. If it would feel good, then that would be a sign that something is not working. This is based on a treacherous invisible script: If you want to be slim, you have to suffer.

The opposite is true.

The idea is that you will lose fat in a way that will help you easily falls. That is:

  • Eat: You eat as much as possible without the fat loss stopping.
  • Workout: You exercise as little as necessary to support fat loss.
  • 90/10 Approach: You do not impose any prohibitions on yourself. If you eat right 90% of the time, 10% of the time you can call it quits.
  • No FDH: You resist the "eat half" temptation because you know it will inevitably cause you to reach a plateau at some point (and then you’ll have no room for further adjustments).

I know this may sound unconvincing. Maybe it contradicts everything you have believed so far.

We are wired to see the world in black and white. Either train hard or not at all. Either the perfect diet or "sh** on it". With this point of view we simplify our thinking. Tempting, I know. But it is also the sure way to the self-made hamster wheel.

We step on the gas pedal all the way and forget to release the handbrake at the same time.

I like the idea that you think in shades of gray. The 90/10 approach is a good idea.

Psychological trap #2: The faster the weight goes down, the better

Shoulder pain impingement syndrome

Even though Superman is fast, patience is a good idea.

This point is in the same vein. We want results, and we want them now.

And we live in a world that can even serve that need in many cases:

  • When we look for information, the solution is often just a fingertip away (Ahoy, Google!).
  • When we want things, we order them online. Delivered as early as tomorrow (Ahoy, Amazon Prime!)

We’re used to having our needs met fast will be satisfied. It’s clear that we also expect lightning-like progress when it comes to losing weight:

"What, in one week only one kilo less? Something does not seem to work!"

Two kilos? That’s better…but it should be a little faster. Four? Not bad, but why not make it five…?

Solution #2: If you’re in a hurry, go slow!

Most people – fueled by media formats like "The Biggest Loser" or brazen advertising – enter the race with completely exaggerated expectations.

If you’re healthy, you can follow this rule of thumb:

With a good nutrition program (that you also implement), you can reduce your body fat percentage per week by about half a percent Lower.

If things go perfectly, maybe even 0.75 percent. For most people, that’s optimally between 250 and 750 grams per week. If you have a very high body fat percentage, a little more; if you have a very low body fat percentage, a little less.

If the pointer on the scale should move faster now, you are probably losing not only fat, but precious muscle mass as well. At the latest, you should measure your body fat percentage and make sure you don’t lose muscle.

Psychological Trap #3: You Believe in Miracle Cures

Lose weight through strength training

"Magic" fat burners exist in fairy tales at best…

Have you also heard about this brand new "superfood"?? People buy it like stupid and it really seems to work wonders. Everybody talks about it.

No matter how you eat, you will lose fat with it. You just have to buy it and when you wake up soon you will have your dream body.

It’s incredible, you don’t have to change anything in your lifestyle. All you need to do is stir it into your coffee in the morning – that’s it! It’s really super simple.

The truth is..

Solution #3: It. Gives. None. Miracle cure.

Again: It. Gives. None. miracle cure.

If it were, we’d all have to walk around "ripped" like the next Men’s Health six-pack model (resp. Women’s Health, ladies), or?

At the risk of making myself unpopular … there’s only one way that really works: new LIFTS. You may replace old, counterproductive habits with new, helpful habits.

  • Lots of protein. For optimal fat loss, I recommend at least 2.5 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Unprocessed foods. Simple test: Does it have an ingredient label?
  • Foods with a high nutrient density and a low energy density. Lots of vegetables, some fruit, lean meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. are good examples.
  • No liquid calories.Water is a real slimming agent.
  • Track your diet. A food diary is one of the simplest ways you can discover the foods you love and that help you.
  • Nutritional supplements like protein powders or micronutrients can make things easier, but real food should always be the foundation.

Do you have to change everything at once now? Absolutely not!

The easiest way to do this is to pick and choose from the many options available to you low-hanging fruit and then you get rid of one after the other.

Successful dieters change one habit at a time.

Fat loss is really simple once you get the hang of it. If you bring the willingness to leave old habits, old thought patterns behind and instead test new behaviors.

You don’t need fat burners and other "miracle cures" for this.

Psychological trap #4: Everything you do is temporary

why we eat

No prohibitions: If you eat 90% on course, you should allow yourself 10% exceptions.

Okay, maybe you’ve been following this new diet for close to three months now and have visibly lost weight. Maybe you’ve completely re-stocked your closet with clothes for your new, slimmer "me" and feel like the world is your oyster.

You’ve changed quite a bit in your life in record time. Maybe you cook for yourself and don’t eat out like you used to. Maybe you eat twice as much protein as you used to and give up sugar. You have found the perfect gym and are a regular there.

Two full-body workouts per week has turned into a 6-day split program – along with 6 cardio sessions per week.

Frappuchino? No thanks. Instead you have your protein shake at the start.

FINALLY…you have reached your goal. What you see in the mirror exceeds your expectations. You can’t remember ever having had so little body fat and being so fit.

FINALLY…the time has come to lighten up on things. You put your feet up, kick the protein powder into the garbage can, cancel your gym membership and book a vacation trip on the Aida – because you want to look good again earned have.

Now that you look good naked, you can FINALLY live like you did before ..?

Solution #4: You know that looking good naked is a lifestyle

If you want to keep your dream body, you may say goodbye to your old lifestyle. If you fall back on old habits that prevented you from looking good naked back then, it means "back to square one"!"

The reality you may accept is this:

Whatever you change in your lifestyle, you may be ready to do it for good.

This does not at all mean that these new habits have to be brutal, hard or unbearable. That would not be the right way.

The right path consists of steps you can take for as long as you want to get the body of your dreams and make it Keep.

That’s why it’s so critically important that you change just one small thing at a time. Finally, you want to develop a new habit that you can stick to for as long as you like. Therefore it may feel good.

Three hours of exercise a day is illusory and a great way to burn out internally. Banning your favorite foods forever is not a good idea either.

With every step you take, you may ask yourself:

Can you imagine doing the same thing a year from now?? If the answer is "yes", you are on the right track.

If the answer is "no", all is well. It only means that you may find an alternative.

If you’ve been losing fat and living in a calorie deficit for an extended period of time, at some point you often feel helpless and burned out. One reason is that many people’s metabolism is on the back burner at this point.

"What is the best way to continue now?", you may ask yourself when you have reached the desired body fat percentage. Maybe you want to build muscle or just keep your shape.

If you proceed too drastically now or even fall back into old dietary patterns, you overtake your metabolism on the right track. This would be a suitable way to put on fat in record time – like Joschka Fischer, Oprah Winfrey. Or some contestants on "The Biggest Loser" after they leave the stage.

Similar to fat loss strategic Procedure also a good idea when increasing energy intake. If the adjustments are gentle, you give your metabolism enough time to adjust, feel better and avoid unnecessary fat gain.

Book tip for a healthy transition after fat loss: Reverse Dieting (Engl.)

Avoid the yo-yo effect

How to proceed correctly after a fat loss phase, teaches you the new Ebook "Reverse Dieting" by Sohee Lee (Fitness Coach, Author) and Dr. Layne Norton (nutritionist, fitness coach, co-author).

The complex metabolic processes involved in losing weight and building muscle are explained in plain (English) language. The authors pay special attention to the mechanisms that cause many people to gain weight quickly after a diet.

The concept of "Reverse Dieting is coherent and explained in detail. It is based on the same principles I teach in fitness coaching.

If you’re looking for a guide to transitioning after fat loss, Reverse Dieting is the place to find it a good guide.

The Ebook is available for download here. The authors offer a money-back guarantee.

Note: I would like to give you a German book tip, but a comparable German book is not known, at least not to me. (Suggestions welcome in the comments section!) If English is not your thing, you will be able to avoid the worst mistakes if you follow the principles in this and other articles in the "Lose Weight" section implements. Alternatively, there remains the individual advice of an experienced fitness coach.


There are healthy and unhealthy ways to lose fat.

Four unhealthy ways, all of which lead to a dead end, you know now.

The healthy way is based on ..

  • … the the right metrics: You can save yourself a lot of frustration if you leave key figures like the BMI to the left and measure the physique instead.
  • … cautious gradual adjustments instead of radical measures.
  • … the knowledge that losing weight doesn’t have to be "hard", but rather feel good may.
    (Solution #1 – The harder, the better. The more relaxed, the more successful!)
  • .. realistic ideas instead of exaggerated expectations.
    (Solution #2: The faster, the better. If you are in a hurry, go slowly.)
  • .. natural food and new habits instead of fat burners and other "miracle cures"
    (Solution #3: You believe in miracle cures. It. Gives. None. Miracle Cure.)
  • … one Lifestyle, which you tailor to your life circumstances. So you can keep at it as long as you like
    (Solution #4: What you do is only temporary. Looking good naked is a lifestyle.)
  • … one strategic plan, which goes not only up to the Sixpack, but also beyond that.

When you get the hang of it, losing weight not only becomes easy, it can also feel easy.

Because you get to experience that the process feels good and can be fun.

Question: In my first fat loss experiments I took each of the four weight loss traps with me – more than once. Which of the four traps have you (or someone you know) fallen into?? If you’ve already reached your desired weight, how did it go for you afterwards? What has helped and what experiences have you had? Write a comment.

Image sources in the article "Avoiding the yo-yo effect": (c) Depositphotos, (c) iStockphoto, (cc) JD Hancock via Flickr.

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