5 habits that are inhibiting your fat loss

Picture by Greg Williams

Picture by Greg Williams


Fat loss can be confusing.

In the media we are inundated with thousands of articles and research papers with different methods for fat loss, all guaranteed to get you results, and even worse, most of them completely conflicting hypothesis or methods. Do eat fat, don’t eat too much fat, no carbs, some carbs, juice only, never have juice … Science changes it’s mind more than I change my outfit (wait that’s not saying much when I spend all day and night in yoga pants… )

So in an attempt to slice through the confusion I wanted to compile for you some simple things to consider before you embark on a more complicated ‘diet’ approach. Please also understand that there are some people that follow these bad habits and yet remain skinny or lean - but I want to remind you that being lean, doesn’t necessarily mean you are healthy. Some people are genetically resilient to junk food diets and rock & roll lifestyles, some people are not. However trust me when I say, it will catch up with you, one way or another.

If you have been struggling for a while with fat loss or with health in general, I want you to check in with yourself honestly. 

Avoid these bad habits below before you frantically subject your body to aggressive ‘health’ regimes.

1. You’re skipping breakfast: Breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. It is breaking a 7-10 hour fast and therefore influences nearly every metabolic process within the body. It also hugely effects our mental state by determining the release of certain neurotransmitters within the brain. Because of this I am also a huge advocate of a protein rich breakfast as it stimulates the ‘right’ neurotransmitters to keep you motivated and alert throughout the day.

There is no doubt that calories in vs. calories out is a major process that effects fat loss/gain, so I understand that there is enough research to suggest that if your calorie expenditure and macro breakdown is balanced, then it doesn’t matter when or how you get your food, as long as you get it. Well, I (and many other health practitioners) have a more holistic approach. I believe that sustainable fat loss and more importantly HEALTH, arises from an array off variables - not just ‘eat less and move more’. As I mentioned, it's not only me that believes this, a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found, through analysis of behavioural data, that eating breakfast helped reduce dietary fat and minimize impulsive snacking throughout rest of the day.


2. You’re still drinking alcohol: I get it. It helps you to escape, let loose, release, let down your hair, have a little fun … However you justify it, I’m telling you now, that it is inhibiting your fat loss - but more importantly than that, it’s inhibiting your optimal health. If you’re serious about seeing a change, get it out of your diet for 30 days. Feel a little resistant and annoyed at what I’m saying? Ok - that's cool, keep on drinking poison, while expecting your body to thrive and perform for you.

In its purest form, ethyl alcohol, supplies seven calories per gram (2 grams less than fat per gram). In one glass of wine there is roughly 84 calories - that’s just in the alcohol alone! Then you add the sugar on top of that and it bumps it up even more. You know what else, it’s pretty much devoid of any nutrient value, so you’re just drinking empty calories that numb your brain, dehydrate you, poison your liver and strain your kidneys. Mmm, yum. 

"Here's the problem with all alcoholic beverages, and the reason I recommend refraining from alcohol consumption on the diet. Alcohol, whenever taken in, is the first fuel to burn. While that's going on, your body will not burn fat.” ~Robert C Atkins (Author of the Atkins diet)~

I’m not against partying, having fun or getting “crunk” (not even going to pretend that I knew what that really meant - had to urban dictionary it and now I’m even more confused). I just don’t think we should be continuously vindicating an alcoholic lifestyle as though it’s ok to have a massive binge every weekend, as long as we 'eat clean' during the week. Soz but that is like totes ridic.

Tell your friends that you’re giving it up for 30 days, not only will you learn who your ‘real’ friends are, but you’ll also see massive improvements to every single aspect of your life - you will also look better naked.

3. You need a sweaty change: When was the last time you changed up your exercise routine? Cardio/HIIT bunnies, have you thought about picking up some weights, increasing your lean muscle mass and therefore raising your metabolic rate, creating greater, daily calorific demand? Or how about the ladies and gents that lift weight (I love you by the way), when was the last time you attempted a real cardio session, be it a long distance run, or a sprint session …? Pilates, Reformer and Yoga lovers, how do you feel about exercise? That sounds harsh, but seriously, when was the last time you actually sweated and felt like your heart was pounding out of your chest (either with weights or cardio). I think by now you understand what I’m getting at. Too often I see people staying in their comfort zones with exercise, and the body really begins to plateau. Adaptations occur and you stop seeing results. Change. It. Up. You might also find something you enjoy more, and therefore will do more.

My weekly routine looks like this:

Monday - Legs

Tuesday - Sprint Intervals on Curve Treadmill and Abs

Wednesday - Upper Body & Yoga

Thursday Bike Sprint Intervals & Calisthenic Abs

Friday - Legs & afternoon Yoga

Saturday - Gymnastics & Light cardio

Sunday Yin Yoga & Rest

4. You’re not drinking enough water: Hydration seems to be one of the most underrated aspects of fat loss. But I (and other health and science professionals) would really like to change that.

Researchers from the University of Birmingham have shown that drinking 500ml of water at half an hour before eating main meals may help obese adults to lose weight.

Those who reported preloading before all three main meals in the day reported a loss of 4.3kg (9.48lbs) over the 12 weeks, whereas those who only preloaded once, or not at all, only lost an average of 0.8kg (1.76lbs).

In addition to all this, it’s important to remember that 95% of the brain is composed of water and that even a 2% drop in body water can cause minor (but critical) shrinkage of the brain, potentially leading to migraines, impaired neuromuscular coordination and decrease concentration. Dehydration can also reduce endurance, decrease strength and cause cramping - all these things greatly effect your workout, which ultimately affects the results from your workout.

5. You’re too stressed: Aside from the usual symptoms of emotional stress such as mindless eating (in search of a dopamine response to make you feel better), stress can inhibit fat loss and increase fat storage in various different ways. 

When the brain detects stress in some way, whether you’re being chased by a tiger, or chased by your boss or the tax department, it triggers the release of a cascade of chemicals, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Excessive amounts of cortisol in the body can cause belly fat and even visceral fat - this is a primal survival adaptation to protect vital organs from attack. Excessive cortisol also slows the metabolism to help the body maintain adequate supplies of glucose for all the energy required to deal with the threat (even if that threat is not life or death).

So - get to a yoga class, start meditation, breathe more consciously - like all good things, it won’t happen over night, but it will happen. Consistency is key. If you’re time poor try my sun salutations every morning for 30 days - keep a diary and I know you’ll feel better.


Good luck - although you won’t need it because you love yourself enough to make these changes - right?


Lots of love.


Miss Vertue.

Shona Vertue3 Comments