Losing weight isn’t easy. Shedding those extra pounds of body fat requires dietary changes along with an increase in activity – and small lifestyle changes often make a big difference. The last thing you want to do is drastically overhaul your lifestyle all at once to try to lose weight quickly. It’s more achievable and sustainable when you make incremental changes. Even with the best intentions, many people do things that work against you when trying to lose weight. According to a registered dietician writing, for U.S. News and World Report, who sees people struggling to lose weight, there are 7 seven common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight. How many apply to you?
Not Eating Enough Protein with Breakfast
What’s your go-to breakfast? Hopefully, it’s not a bagel, croissant or a high-carb cereal. Protein is what should be on the menu first thing in the morning. Research clearly shows protein is the most satiating macronutrient and more likely to tame your appetite than carbs or fat. That means less nibbling later in the morning.
One study showed participants who started the day with eggs rather than an equal caloric quantity of bagel at least 5 days a week lost more weight. Eggs top the list of high-quality sources of protein, meaning your body easily can put it to good use building lean body mass and doing other things like supporting your immune system. Plus, when you wake up to a breakfast of eggs and you’ll have better blood sugar control and fewer cravings.
Misjudging the Size of Snacks
There’s nothing wrong with snacking, as long as you keep your snacks snack-sized. As registered dietician Keri Gans points out, some people turn snacks into a mini-meal by losing track of how much they’re eating. As she points out, a snack should be less than 200 calories. Keep it balanced too. The best snacks are a combination of high-fiber carbs, protein and a small amount of healthy fat, for example, an apple with peanut butter. Plan balanced snacks ahead of time so you aren’t at the mercy of a vending machine or snacks in the office break room.
Not Counting Beverage Calories
For some reason, people forget that beverage calories count. Beverage calories are inherently less satisfying, so they don’t curb hunger. That 100-calorie beverage you sip at each meal does little to satiate your appetite. If you drink three or four 100-calorie beverages each day, you’ve increased your calorie load with less satisfaction than something you chew – not a good trade-off when you could have enjoyed two snacks consisting of real food instead. Stick to zero calorie beverages like water, coffee, and tea.
Eating a “Healthy” Salad at Lunch
The word salad has a health halo, but it’s not always justified. A salad chock full of colorful vegetable and lean protein topped off with a healthy salad dressing deserves to be called healthy while a salad loaded down with croutons and other crunchies – not so much. Watch the salads you get at restaurants and fast food establishments. Some have over 1,000 calories and the dressing you put on it likely contains less healthy oils. “Salad” isn’t always synonymous with low calorie or healthy.
Being TOO Carb Phobic
It’s not a good idea to demonize entire food groups and that includes carbs. Make friends with healthy, whole food sources of fiber-rich carbs and make processed carbs a smaller part of your diet. Vegetables and fruits are the carbohydrates you want on your plate. Don’t clear your plate of carbs in the hope of losing weight faster. As always, balance is important.
Completely Eliminating Foods You Love
Just as being carb phobic is too extreme, so is completely eliminating foods you enjoy from your diet. It’s okay to give yourself an occasional splurge and then get back on track. Knowing you can still enjoy the foods you love, even if they’re slightly decadent, is psychologically liberating. You might discover as you start to limit sugar in your diet you don’t crave sugary foods as often. So be it. But it’s still not a good idea to say you can NEVER have food you enjoy. Moderation is key. After all, you’re trying to make positive changes you can live with for a lifetime.
Jumping on Board Fad Diets
Seems there’s always a new “lose weight fast” diet making its rounds on social media but don’t be lulled into trying it. Fad diets that eliminate food groups or focus on a small number of dietary options don’t work long term and they can lead to nutritional deficiencies. You might lose a few pounds, but without a balanced, healthy nutritional strategy, you’ll inevitably gain them back. When you do, you’ll feel discouraged and defeated. Think long term and frame losing weight in the context of health. You’re not JUST trying to drop your weight – you’re trying to be healthier. Make sure your eating plan is designed to do this.
The Bottom Line
Losing weight takes patience and commitment. Then, once you lose it, you have the lifelong task of maintaining your new, healthy weight. Taking shortcuts won’t work, at least not long term. Eat smart and combine healthy eating with aerobic and resistance training to lose weight in a healthy, sustainable manner. Make sure the rest of your lifestyle is geared towards healthy weight loss. If you’re not getting 7 or more hours of sleep a night, you’re making it more difficult to shed those extra pounds.
Finally, make sure you’re losing what you should – fat – and not muscle tissue. You can limit the loss of muscle tissue and even gain muscle while you’re losing body fat by adding resistance training to your workout. Pick up weights that challenge you. Light weights you can lift 20 times without resting won’t build lean body mass unless you’re lifting to near failure.
Hang in there! You can reach your goal with patience and without making these seven mistakes.
U.S. News Health. “7 Diet Mistakes Sabotaging Your Weight Loss”
Int J Obes (Lond). 2008 Oct; 32(10): 1545-1551. Published online 2008 Aug 5. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2008.130.
Harvard School of Public Health “Healthy Weight”
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