The sad truth is that a vast majority of people who lose weight on a diet pile it back on, and then some. One common reason: Trying to lose too much weight too fast.
“The biggest mistake people make is to cut calories too drastically,” registered dietician Joan Salge Blake tells Newsmax Health.
“If you don’t eat strategically and get the right nutrition at every meal, you’re going wind up being hungry. Being hungry can make you grouchy and tired, and no one wants to feel like that. Therefore you don’t stay on a reduced-calorie regimen.”
Here are 10 other common dieting mistakes that may be keeping you from reaching your weight-loss goals:
Eating bad breakfast foods: Research suggests that skipping breakfast won’t help you lose weight, but Blake says you may have to make smart choices. “If you typically have a bagel, big muffin or croissant with a sugar-laden designer coffee, you should exchange that for healthier foods,” she says. “It’s important to get protein, fiber and healthy fats.” Whole grain cereals, eggs, nuts and Greek yogurt are examples of good breakfast foods.
Selective calorie counting: Dieters who meticulously keep track of their calories during meals will sometimes not count snacks. “It’s easy to go over your caloric goal when you add in the two cookies from the office party, the vending machine run during the afternoon slump, and the bedtime sweets,” says Chris Mosier, a fitness and nutrition coach. Experts suggest using a mobile calorie-counting app to log everything you eat or drink.
Eliminating favorite treats: Trying to do without the things you love could be a recipe for diet disaster. “I don’t think you should ever block any food from your diet because you’ll crave it, make yourself crazy and end up giving in and eating too much of it,” says Blake, an associate clinical professor in Boston University’s Nutrition Program. “You’re better off eating these treats in very small amounts. That way, you minimize negativity while still cutting calories.”
Skipping meals: “When people don’t eat enough during the day, by the time they get home they’re starving and they overeat,” notes Blake. Going without food also triggers the metabolism to slow down, and you’ll burn fewer calories, even after you pig out.
Overrating exercise: Most people can’t exercise enough to overcome a bad diet. “It is very, very hard and rare that you will lose weight with just exercise,” says Blake. “What really counts is cutting calories. However, exercise will help you to maintain your weight loss.”
Eating out too often: A University of Texas study found that women dieters consumed an extra 543 calories and 16 grams of fat on days when they dined out, compared to eating at home. The culprits, say experts, are super-sized portions and meals designed to satisfy your taste buds more than your nutritional needs. Learn to love your own cooking.
Cutting out too much fat: Research shows that a low-carb diet beats a low-fat one for weight loss. “Reducing fat too dramatically is not good,” says Blake. “Eat healthy fats, which stay in your stomach longer than carbs and help to prevent overeating.” Some of the best sources of healthy fats are olives and olive oil, fatty fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, tofu and avocados.
Forsaking water: Drinking more water is a simple way to lose weight for many reasons. First, it can be a no-calorie replacement for sugar-laden sodas and fruit juices. And downing a glass of water before you eat will help curb your appetite. Water also revs up your metabolism, especially if it’s cold because your body has to work harder to warm it up. Experts recommend consuming about a half-gallon of water a day.
Late-night snacking: “At nighttime, you tend to eat foods that are high in calories and low in fiber, such as frozen desserts,” says Blake. “These are also the types of food you tend to overconsume.” And you may just be tired, not really hungry. Studies suggest that a lack of sleep makes you crave salty or sweet snacks. “Try just going to sleep instead of eating,” suggests Blake. “Chances are you’ll wind up bypassing that snack.”
Not sleeping enough: Research shows that people who are sleep-deprived tend to consume about 500 extra calories a day. One reason is that too little shut-eye slows down the metabolism and produces hormonal changes that make people feel hungry even when their bellies are full. Experts say to shoot for at least seven hours of sleep a night.
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