The #1 Mistake Women Make When Trying To Lose Weight Is Undereating—Let Me Explain

I've been a personal trainer and health coach for more than 5 years now. Women are always surprised when I tell them that undereating is actually one of the most common mistakes that hinder women from reaching their fat loss goals. Let's discuss.

By Gina Florio3 min read
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Losing weight and attempting to shed fat can be one of the most frustrating, tedious experiences you will ever put yourself through in your life. That's because it's not easy, especially if you've been programmed to follow the standard American diet of overeating and perpetually consuming foods with little to no nutrients. However, once you have all the tools to lose fat efficiently, the process can be one of the most rewarding, exhilarating journeys you'll ever embark on in your life.

I myself have been very overweight and many of my current clients come to me with huge weight-loss goals. I know what it's like to battle with weight loss, which is why I've devoted so much time and energy to helping get over this hurdle in life. This is the information I wish all women knew before they attempted to lose weight.

Most Women Make the Mistake of Undereating

I've seen it so many times I've lost count. A woman comes to me nearly in tears and says, "I've been barely eating anything and I've been running 30 minutes every day for the last three months and nothing is happening! I've only lost one pound!" I'm not even kidding when I tell you I've had women say these exact words to me: "I eat like a bird and I still can't lose weight." They will nearly starve themselves and only eat 1,000 calories a day.

It's crucial to eat enough food so that your metabolism actually works and burns calories.

I know it sounds counterintuitive and you think you're going to see huge results when you deprive your body of calories and nutrients, but that's simply not how it works. In fact, many women who choose this route end up feeling extremely frustrated and they just give up on their weight-loss dreams because they think their body type simply isn't wired to be lean. This is a wildly common phenomenon that I have seen in almost every single one of my clients.

Here's Why Undereating Doesn't Work

Most women are obsessed with the scale. We focus far too much on losing weight rather than changing our body composition. At the end of the day, the number on the scale doesn't matter. No, that doesn't mean it's okay to be 300 pounds. It does mean that having an excess amount of fat is what's dangerous (especially having a lot of metabolically active fat around the midsection), and most of the time when we talk about losing weight what we really mean is shedding excess fat and getting lean in order to change our body composition.

Body composition is all about the amount of lean muscle mass in the body vs. the amount of fat. And at the end of the day, do you really care about your weight? Or do you care more about looking toned and lean and being healthy? I would bet the latter is what women are more interested in – at least that's the case for all my clients.

When you don't eat enough, you sabotage your chance to build lean muscle mass.

That's precisely why undereating doesn't work. In order to develop lean muscle mass, you need to eat enough protein every day because protein is the only thing you eat that builds lean muscle mass. Why is lean muscle mass so important? It's the very thing that speeds up your metabolism, sheds fat faster, and burns more calories at a resting rate.

When you don't eat enough, you sabotage your chance to build lean muscle mass, which means you're sabotaging your chance to burn excess fat at a faster rate. Before you get nervous about the prospect of building more muscle mass in your body, it's important to understand that as a woman you will not get bulky by prioritizing muscle growth in the body. Women have 17 times less testosterone than men do, and it's virtually impossible to get bulky unless you're taking crazy supplements that will make you bulk up.

Finally, it's crucial to eat enough food so that your metabolism actually works and burns calories. The body is a highly complex, efficient system, and if you aren't giving it many calories to burn, it will adapt and slow down.

This Is How Your Diet Should Change If You Want To Shed Fat

Protein must be a priority. You should be eating at least 100 grams of protein every day. I actually suggest that my clients eat their body weight in protein – in other words, whatever your weight is in pounds is how many grams of protein you should be eating each day.

There are lots of different ways to calculate your macro and daily calorie goals. But the most important thing is that you're eating full meals every day and prioritizing nutrient-dense foods and lean protein.

All of my clients cannot believe how much they're able to eat. They're thrilled that they're "allowed" to eat pasta, bread, and even dessert as long as it fits their macros. For women who have starved themselves for a long time, it feels like a luxury to be able to eat 1,900 calories a day. When in reality, that's a normal amount of food for a fully functioning adult woman.

Don't make the mistake of undereating if you have fat-loss goals. Besides, life isn't enjoyable if you're constantly hungry! Eat delicious food, move your body regularly, and enjoy life.