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The Four Deadly Sins of Dieting

Temptations are everywhere!

You've committed to eating right and finally losing that extra weight. There's just one problem. That diet plan you're starting may be hiding a serious flaw.

I call them the "Four Deadly Sins of Dieting." They're the dangerously misguided things people do when starting a weight loss program. Is your plan here?

The Dramatic Drop in Calories Sin Number One: The dramatic drop in calories.

It seems like a good idea at first. Eating too much causes weight gain, so if you cut back on your calories, you should lose weight fast. Unfortunately, your body doesn't know you're going on a diet.

If there's a large drop in calories, your body goes into starvation mode and hangs onto all the fat it can. You start burning muscle for energy and your metabolism slows down to conserve body mass. After a few weeks, the weight loss stops and your body adjusts to the lower food intake. Worse, you've now lost some metabolism-boosting muscle and hung onto unhealthy fat.

A better plan is only to drop calories down 10-20% from your current level. It'll create a caloric deficit without triggering a plunge in your metabolism. Once a week, enjoy a "cheat day" where you eat a little more. The increase short-circuits your body's adaptation response, so your metabolic rate doesn't start moving down.

The No Fat Solution Sin Number Two: The no fat solution.

It's been hammered into our heads for decades that fat is bad. So many people, in a misguided effort to do something healthy, try and eliminate fat entirely from their diet.

That's a really bad idea. Our bodies need fat to process "fat-soluble vitamins." A severe reduction in fat can interrupt the proper digestion of those vitamins. It can also compromise the production of muscle-building testosterone. If testosterone levels fall, the metabolism drops right along with it.

Instead of eliminating fat, concentrate on getting rid of anything with trans fats and reducing your intake of saturated fats. Higher monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fat foods like salmon, trout or tuna should be replacing the cookies, cakes and chips. The "good" fats not only help lower blood cholesterol levels, but they help fight muscle inflammation after a workout as well.

The No Carb Fallacy Sin Number Three: The no-carb fallacy.

The diet books claim if you cut out carbs, you'll drop the weight. What many fail to mention is that carbs are critical to building muscle. Completely cut out complex carbs like bran cereals, oatmeal, multigrain breads or legumes and you could find yourself getting weaker as time goes on.

For the best results, you should eat most of your carbs two times a day. Load up on carbs for breakfast and they help reverse the catabolic state your body is in from fasting while you were asleep. The second time is within 30 minutes of a workout to increase your body's natural insulin levels.

After you workout, insulin is an anti-catabolic, meaning it helps stop muscle breakdown. To boost insulin when you finish exercising, look for carbs high on the Glycemic Index (GI) scale. Fruit, fruit juice, sports bars, sports shakes and baked potatoes are all good post-workout meals.

The Diet Without Exercise Plan Sin Number Four: The diet without exercise plan.

It's a compromise many people make when they don't have enough time, enough energy or they just hate working out. Unfortunately, it's a plan doomed to fail. When you're on a diet and you're losing weight, your metabolism will naturally slow down. Worse, over time, the muscles that aren't exercised will start to waste away.

Exercise helps with both problems. It can reverse muscle atrophy and helps boost your metabolic rate. The reason is simple. Pound for pound, muscle burns more calories than fat. If you exercise when you diet, the muscle you're adding can help keep your metabolism running at a higher level.

Now it's time to look at your diet plan. Are you committing one of the Four Deadly Diet Sins?

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