Alright guys, we’ve all been there…we start a diet with the aspirations to be leaner, put on a little muscle or just perform better and be healthy. With so many different ways to go about a diet from IIFYM to the ‘pre-packaged’ diets sold by IG fitness ‘gurus’, it can be easy to get lost in what works, what doesn’t and what is a waste of money. Well, we’re here to cut through the BS and dispel a few things you can do to clean up your act and get you on the path to getting on the right track by covering some of the ways guys usually f**k up their diet.
You Diet Like a Sedentary Woman
First off, realize that many of the popular diet and weight loss programs out there are created off of a concept of what is referred to as an ‘avatar’. This is in reference to the targeted demographic that they used in general for creating such a plan, and after crunching some numbers and surveying, the typical weight loss plan you see on TV is aimed at sedentary women looking to lose weight.
For years, the mindset for dieting has been smaller numbers on the scale is the only thing that matters, and with this in mind, the marketing and product design has followed suit, targeting the statistically biggest audience, which happens to be the average woman looking to lose scale weight. Unfortunately men have followed suit as well with both sexes being oblivious to the idea of body composition (lean muscle vs. body fat) and solely judge their body based on what a scale says.
Unless you’re morbidly obese and need to drop weight in the worst of ways for a medical reason, you should be more selective than “I want to drop 10 lbs”. Be more specific and look to lose body fat, maintain/gain lean muscle and keep your strength levels up. I can assure you that none of these are going to be delivered by some frozen dinners designed on a point system or coming from Dr. Oz.
There are good pre-made diet plans out there, but the key is take a hard look to make sure it’s designed for your ideal ‘avatar’. Look for one designed for the gym goer who wants to lean up and gain some muscle and set the scale numbers aside.
Cutting Too Soon…No Gains Bro
For whatever reason, another idea that has been pounded in the head of many guys these days is that if they just lose 20 lbs, they’ll have a shredded, sculpted physique to show off and will be on track to be looking like the guy on the cover of Men’s Health. As a result, many end up shredding down and end up looking more along the lines of a rotisserie chicken, crushed to find that they don’t have near as much muscle as they thought they did.
Sure, you’ve been going to the gym regularly and crushing the iron and just think you have a little fluff. You think the only thing holding you back from landing that date with good looking gym ladies is having a set of abs, so inevitably you start a cutting diet. Rather than her digits, you end up with a lack of muscle, a slowed metabolism and shattered confidence. We can smell the insecurity coming from under that XL hoodie, bro.
Now, while you may not want to be a bodybuilder, let’s put something in perspective here. The average guy if asked what his ideal physique would be would most likely resemble one of the ‘small’ men’s physique competitors. Even then, these guys are weighing 180 plus and that’s shredded to the bone. With that in mind, if you’re a fluffy 160, does it really make sense that you’ll look the way you want at a gangly 148 lbs? Instead, focus on putting on some muscle before you shred down.
If you fall into this category, we recommend that you bulk up a bit and gain some quality muscle before you start to shred down. While it may sound counterintuitive if you’re a bit fluffy, it will make it easier to lean out as muscle not only is the end goal, but it is metabolic tissue and the more you have, the more calories you will burn at rest. Instead of dieting down, first focus on cleaning up your diet to get rid of obvious junk and then give your body the fuel it needs to grow for a bit.
Eating TOO Big to Get Big
The old saying is “You gotta eat big to get big”. While this has a lot of merit as you need a calorie surplus in order to put on some lean muscle you desire, it’s also easy to get carried away with how many calories you’re pounding down. There’s a world of difference between eating in a surplus to fuel training, recovery and growth compared to shoveling down whatever you feel like “because gainz.”
While you may add an inch to your arms, it won’t be as good if you’re adding inches around your waist as well. If you notice that your belly is growing along with your biceps, chances are you’re getting more than enough to fuel muscle growth and you can scale back on your calories a bit. While it may not seem like that big of a deal as you can always cut, remember that it is layering on stubborn fat deposits and you could be stretching out the skin permanently.
Another issue is that you could be wrecking your metabolism by way of decreasing insulin resistance which impairs your ability to build muscle and increases your tendency to further store body fat. More downsides is that you’ll start notice that it’s harder to get that desired muscle ‘pump’ during training, your strength gains may stall and worst of all, each subsequent time you decide it’s time to cut down, it will be harder and harder.
To remedy this, you only need to eat in surplus of a few hundred calories a day, that’s it. First figure out your basal metabolic rate to see how many calories you need which can be easily done with one of those online calculators and then add in the extra fuel. Make it clean too and your body will thank you…this isn’t the time to see how many extra burgers you can cram down.
Living a Teenage Dream
Long after the high school days of 2 a day football practice and the college days of staying up all night and surviving on pizza have passed, a lot of guys need a reality check. You aren’t torching through calories any more with sports practice, nor do you have the metabolism of your early 20’s, and while they say age is just a number, your metabolism doesn’t always like to play by the same rules. Your body adapts over time and your metabolism slow down.
Even for those who crush the gym on a regular basis, you aren’t going to be as active as you once were and your body has become accustomed to the adult life. You have grown up things to tend to such as a job, kids, bills and other things that you didn’t have to worry about in your high school days, so your diet has to be adjusted accordingly.
It’s time to grow up a bit here and eat like a ‘big boy’. Get out of the mindset that you are invincible diet wise and that you’re a ‘growing boy’ just feeding the machine. Instead, fuel your body for what you are ACTUALLY doing. While you need fuel for training, an hour long weight training session and cardio doesn’t equate to needing to destroy 3 burgers and fries.
Eating Like a Pro Bro
While in structure, they are the right idea, a lot of guys think that after watching Phil Heath win his 6th straight Mr. Olympia, whatever he is doing for his diet must be the ticket. Well, the think is that if you’re trying to emulate what you see pro bodybuilders doing, it isn’t going to work out as well as you think. The reason being that you simply don’t have the genetics or other factors that they do. Even other bodybuilders that are non-pros and compete probably couldn’t do the diet that a genetic elite like Phil Heath or Ronnie Coleman do and get away with it.
If you dive into their off-season diet, you’ll probably be packing on fat along with muscle and on the flip side, if you think you’ll get shredded like them by undertaking their cutting diet, you’ll ended up losing muscle and slow your metabolism. Yes, you may see these diets in popular magazines and online, but don’t get it twisted, these guys are in a business and everything is for sale. While it may have some nice points for structure and food selection, keep in mind you need to eat for YOU.
It’s statistically supported that women face more pressure than guys do to look immaculate. Bombarded by make-up ads, fashion shows, magazines, social media and the ever changing level of what is considered the ‘standard’ for beauty, they are always aware. This can be a good thing so some degree as having a constant reminder is nice at times to encourage you to make better choices with your diet, workout more and live healthier in genera.
On the flip side, guys admittedly don’t have that same pressure, usually. It seems that the ‘dad bod’ craze hit with full force and what is now standard is a jiggly gut, man boobs and getting out of breath when eating an extra order of ribs. This is just sad and what’s worse is that most times the saying ‘you are the company you keep’ is true. IF you have out of shape friends, it’s more likely you’ll follow suit. Compounding this is that there is tendency to have a lot of social activities like tailgating, bar hopping and the like to revolve around eating and drinking.
Snap out of complacency if you’ve fallen in a rut. Not only will you look better and increase your confidence in yourself, but you’ll do your health in the long term a favor. Getting in some more exercise, eating better and dropping some body fat has never done anyone wrong, so take a hard look in the mirror, be honest and see if you are truly happy with what you see. Start by cleaning up your diet, call up your friends to hit the gym instead of the bar and try downing a few more chicken breasts in place of the baskets of wings.
You Suck at Cooking
Growing up, you relied on your parents to cook for you. You’d come home from school, drop your book bag and crush whatever dish your mom had prepared. College saw the departure of those dishes your mom prepared, and instead was replaced by endless options at your college cafeteria or you had that cute girl from chemistry class to take out to dinner. Fast forward to adult life and sadly, most guys peek in their fridge to see what equates to snacks and leftovers from take out. How do you expect to reach your goals if you don’t know how to cook for them?
While you don’t have to be a master chef, a few basic cooking skills and meal prep ideas will go a long way to influence the progress you’ll make in reaching your goals. You no longer have to depend on anyone to cook for you, and you can focus on your goals. Use this to your advantage and create the body you want, starting with the kitchen.
Now, this won’t take a rocket scientist to figure out, but alcohol has calories. While this won’t shock you, most don’t understand that while alcohol has calories it can also cause issues with your metabolism. In other articles we’ve broken down how alcohol works, but for those that haven’t had a chance to read them, think of alcohol as more of a fat burning suppressor. In other words, when you consume alcohol, your body halts fat burning and shifts it to burning off the alcohol ingested.
This is especially problematic if your main goal is fat loss, and can also be detrimental to those looking to put on muscle. While you can have a few drinks here or there, the key comes down to being able to control it. Realistically, even if you are having a few drinks a day, is it really working in your benefit to set aside 300+ calories for alcohol? Of course not, it would make more sense to allot those calories to quality food to fuel your physique.
Stop and evaluate your drinking habits and don’t get caught up in what the ‘social norm’ is. You are your own person and set your own goals, so why let someone derail them because they don’t have the same ambition? Plan ahead when you can if you plan to drink and definitely don’t make it a regular thing if you want to reach your physique goals.
We hope that with this article you’ve become more aware of the common mistakes guys make when it comes to their diet. With the most common pit falls outlined here, you now can avoid them and take a better, smarter approach to getting on the right track and reaching where you want to be. Consider yourself enlightened and remember, it pays to be a “Bro In the Know”.