Are you making these critical dieting errors?
Summer has been creeping up on us…
And while some of us only need to worry about the bloating, there are others who would like to lose those last few extra pounds that have been hanging around since the holidays…
Fact is, we all know that healthy eating and exercise are the only ways to lose weight and get fit the healthy way.
But if weight loss was always that simple, I don’t think obesity would be as big of an issue in this country. There are definitely more than 2 factors that go into weight loss and maintenance.
So, can you make dieting mistakes that will work against your progress?
The answer is yes.
Sometimes, even the healthiest women fall victim to these common weight loss mistakes. But, knowing is half the battle.
Here are some common weight loss mistakes that you should try and avoid when attempting to lose a few pounds.
1. Starving yourself
So, you would think that if you eat as little food as possible that you would easily lose weight, right?
But, your body is a smart machine that wants preserve itself as much as possible. When you don’t eat for long periods of time, your body goes into “starvation mode/preservation mode” and slows your metabolism.
It believes you may not get to eat again soon, so it wants to hold on to the energy it has before it must use it’s nutrient stores to make your body work.
Eventually, your anorexia will make you lose weight, but in addition to losing fat you will also lose muscle (lean muscle tissue), which is not something you want if you have worked hard to give your body any sort of definition.
2. Skipping meals
Like with starvation, skipping meals will lead your body to think that you aren’t going to be feeding it again for a while.
It also means your blood sugar will not remain constant or stable. Large spikes if your blood sugar can wreak havoc on your body (and not just if you have diabetes). Often when you skip a meal to save yourself the calories you really end up eating way more later because you binge when you are very hungry.
In reality, when you skip meals, you are costing yourself more in the long run.
3. Eating out a majority of the time
Restaurant meals are often much higher in calories than your same copycat meal you can make at home.
Restaurants only have the responsibility to make you a meal that is delicious, not necessarily healthy. In reality, going out to eat should be a special occasion type of thing, but when we get busy or just tired of cooking, we tend to eat out more.
This can sabotage your dieting.
If you must eat out, try and be smart about it by avoiding things you know are terrible for you (like fried foods, fat-laden dressings and heavy, buttery dishes). And if you know you’re going out tonight, try and make sure the rest of your eating that day is A+!
4. Not meal planning
Do you often find yourself tired after work and end up eating a roll of cookie dough or ice cream for dinner?
We have all been there…staring into the fridge wondering what you even have to make a whole meal out of…
If you meal planned your week, you wouldn’t find yourself in this situation as often.
Consider picking at least 3 dinner and 3 lunch options for the week that you know are easy and healthy to make (its even a good idea to make some of the dinners into large enough portions that you can have leftovers on those nights that you can’t fathom turning on the oven or leaning over a hot stove.
This makes it much easier for you to eat healthy at home, rather than finding yourself wrist deep in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or surfing Postmates for your dinner.
If you’re feeling extra motivated, you can meal prep ahead of time so that you may only have to throw some ingredients in a crock pot or throw a dish in the oven. This is also a great money saving idea (less food waste and eating at home is always less spendy.)
5. Not making a grocery list for your weekly food shopping
Like with the meal planning, it is important that you have a game plan when it comes to eating.
Half the battle when it comes to healthy eating is honestly staying organized and planning ahead.
DO NOT go the the grocery store hungry and without a list. This will result in you purchasing things that don’t make for a meal or impulse purchased snacks that you will later regret buying. The easiest way to stay away from junk food is to not buy it in the first place.
By having a list, you can stick to your planned meals and also won’t spend more than you budgeted for. This is not only great advice for someone looking to lose weight, but something everyone should be doing.
6. Drinking your dinner
We know that alcohol is rather high in calories and low in nutritional value. But if you’re gonna have a cocktail, make sure you get some dinner in their too. You may think that if you don’t eat the calories, then the drink won’t seem as unhealthy.
If you don’t eat, you most likely will end up getting those drunk munchies you know are inevitable when drinking on an empty stomach. Those drunk munchies are rarely healthy foods, so now you are worse off than if you just had dinner to begin with.
Also, I have definitely learned my lesson when it comes to not eating and boozing it up. It always starts with a quick trip to drunkie town, and ends with a terrible hangover that I have to cure with more unhealthy food. It’s a vicious cycle that will only ruin your weight loss efforts.
Better to just eat a healthy dinner and avoid the pain later. If you drink your dinner, you are really just screwing yourself in the end.
7. Not enough vegetables
Vegetables are wonderful for you!
They are low in calories and packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They will fill you up and make you feel full without the impact of so many calories. While many people are counting calories, they forget to rely on foods like vegetables to make up a majority of their diet.
Try and make half your dinner plate vegetables and make your mid-afternoon snack vegetable based. You will find it is not as hard and unpleasant as you think to incorporate more veggies into your daily diet.
Even if you aren’t dieting, you should make sure you are getting enough vegetables. You will look and feel much better.
8. Too much protein
When you think dieting or muscle building, many people think you should get as much protein as possible.
And while you can have a very healthy diet that is high in protein, excess protein can also be stored away as fat.
Protein needs can vary based on athletic activity, but for the most part, you need about 0.8g of protein per kg of weight. And unless you are an Olympic level athlete, you probably don’t need much more than that.
9. Not enough carbohydrates
We all know about the Atkins diet and other low-carb diets that definitely result in weight loss.
But, this type of weight loss is hard to maintain and low-carb diets are not meant to be long term. Your brain runs mostly on carbohydrates and not getting enough of them can make you feel foggy and grumpy (your serotonin production goes up when you eat a lot of carbs).
If you want to watch your carbs, be sure to avoid those simple sugars and stick to things higher in fiber, like whole grain breads, fruits, and vegetables. Carbohydrates are not your enemy. If you didn’t need them, your body wouldn’t have a use for them.
10. Not getting enough sleep
Although it may sound silly, not getting enough sleep is a huge weight loss mistake because when you’re tired, you tend to make less healthy eating decisions. No shock there.
Get enough shut eye so that your body can rest. Stress causes the release of hormones that can make you gain weight, so be sure not to add the stress of exhaustion to the menu.
11. Always eating the same thing (same with your workouts)
While I think meal planning and prepping is awesome, if you make your eating throughout the week monotonous, you will end up splurging on fatty foods too hard on the weekends, or even on a weeknight after a stressful day at work.
I think it is totally acceptable to be routine and consistent with your breakfast. I am usually the healthiest eater when I eat the same two things every morning.
But switch it up with lunch and dinner. This is your opportunity to learn to become a better cook (if you want) so you can master fun new recipes!
If you are foodie like me, meal time is one of my favorite part of the day. By making each day’s lunch different and interesting, it can help to break up a boring day at work and give you the boost of energy you need to make it to 5pm.
12. Eating too fast
For you brain to get the message that your stomach is full (and you are satiated), it is not an instantaneous message. It takes 20 minutes for your brain to receive the message and let you know to stop eating.
Since it takes that long, if you are scarfing down food, you can easily find yourself with a stomach ache from overeating or bloat from the extra gas (air) you swallowed while eating.
Try to avoid technology or watch tv when eating. Being distracted makes you eat mindlessly and often too fast. You should be focused on eating so that your body and brain recognize what activity you are partaking in. Be present.
13. Rewarding your workouts with junk food
Great, you made it to the gym today for a whole hour!
You are hungry after your post-workout shower and peruse the pantry. What do you choose?
Don’t sabotage all of your hard work at the gym by eating junk food (or as I used to do with my gym buddy, guzzle down lots of wine). You have accomplished something for the day, why ruin it by feeding your body something that it really doesn’t want in reality?
Feed your body well and it will return the favor.
14. Not getting enough fiber
Fiber keeps your gastrointestinal tract running smoothly as well as plays a role in regulating your cholesterol. Remember when you were 18 and taking a poop meant basically losing 5lbs?
You would be apt to keep your fiber game strong.
Keeping your GI tract healthy is important to weight loss and general health. You absorb many of your nutrients there, since it is where all your digestion occurs. It will keep you feeling thin and fit (unless you never eat fiber, then you will feel bloated).
This is all a game of balance, and fiber is your friend.
15. Not drinking enough water
Water is so essential to our bodies, yet most of us don’t get enough everyday…
Keep a reusable water bottle with you throughout the day so you have no excuse as to why you haven’t gulped down any H2O today. Many times when you think you are hungry you may in fact just be thirsty.
For more about water needs, read my article about dehydration!
16. Eating “diet foods”
Diet sodas and diet foods are not real food.
When you try and save calories by eating diet foods, your body doesn’t really enjoy these things. You probably won’t feel full or the feeling won’t last long, which will lead to eating other things to compensate later.
Many of these products use fake sugars or sugar substitutes that really don’t do you any good in the long run.
EAT REAL FOOD.
17. Lack of portion control
While you can pretty much eat as many veggies as you want each day (except those more starchy ones, like potatoes), the rest of your foods need to be consumed in moderation.
Consider eating small meals throughout the day, rather than massive meals once or twice a day. This prevents spikes in blood sugar and binge eating, two big enemies of weight loss.
18. Eating when bored, rather than when hungry
If you’re not hungry, why are you eating?
I’m not saying your stomach should be hurting by the time you finally feed yourself, I’m just saying if you ate 2 hours ago but find yourself eating through a bag of chips mindlessly in front of the tv, you should stop and think.
Why am I eating this? Is my body in need of nourishment?
I am very guilty of eating when I’m bored. Don’t mindlessly eat.
Find something else to do to entertain yourself.
Looking for more weight loss tips?
Honestly, the best tip I can give you is to avoid these common weight loss mistakes. The key to successful dieting and weight loss is to avoid bad habits. There’s no big secret.
My advice? Eat a balanced diet with lots of vegetables and fruits, and get your ass off the couch.
Also, having the support of your peers when you are trying to get back on the healthy eating bandwagon can be the difference between failure and success.
Just remember that no one is perfect, and just because you may have one bad day of eating doesn’t mean the next day has to be bad too.
Have a weight loss mistake that you would like to add to the list? What about a favorite recipe you want to share that was helpful to you in your weight loss or even weight maintenance? Share with me on twitter, Facebook, or right here in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.