If you’re having trouble shedding pounds, take a look at your strategy you may be making some of these top 10 weight loss mistakes.
A diet is not a straitjacket. Most people are successful if they stay within the rules 90 percent of the time. That additional 10 percent can be used for special treats: that unavoidable drink or lunch out with the friends who love all the “wrong” foods.
Dieting makes food an enemy, not a source of sustenance and well-being. So-called yo-yo dieting—losing weight, putting it back on, losing it again and so on—is bad for your health. If you suddenly reduce your food intake, you body, because it is designed for survival, will slow down your metabolic rate in order to store energy more efficiently. This is why people on a diet crave snacks like chocolate, which gives a quick boost to their energy levels, and why weight loss slows down dramatically after the first couple of weeks.
Too much exercise, especially when your diet is poor or your calories are too low, is a sure way to send your body running for safety by slowing your metabolism.
In my practice, excessive weight signifies a severe nutritional deficit. How do you resolve a deficit? Hint: it’s not by limiting or depriving your body of nutrients (limiting calories= restricting nutrients). If you think of your body like a bank account deep in debt, doesn’t it make sense to make as many nutritional deposits into your bank account every day instead? Now we’re on to something!
We lose muscle mass after middle age, which slows metabolism and can lead to weight gain. Research shows that diets with up to 50-percent protein may help and are safe for most (except those with kidney disease). A 130-pound adult could aim for 70 grams daily. These substitutions will add protein—but won’t add lots of fat and calories.
Not only do we crave unhealthy comfort foods when we’re tired, but our sleep levels are linked to our hormone levels, says Joey Shulman, the Thornhill, Ont.-based author of The Last 15—A Weight Loss Breakthrough. “People who are sleep-deprived tend to have more secretions of the hormone cortisol, so they’re more stressed out. And that’s going to trigger fat storage as well,” she says. Lack of sleep also causes fluctuations in the hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin, which indicate whether you’re full or hungry.
No matter how good the fitness plan, sticking with the exact same routine day after day is hard—and discouraging. In his first book, 5-Factor Fitness, Hollywood trainer Harley Pastnernak recommends a different workout for every day of the week, each focusing on a different body part. Whether you vary the number of reps you do or make a switch from cardio to resistance training, it’s important to vary your routine enough so you don’t get bored. “At least one thing should be different daily,” Pasternak suggests.
“Skipping meals can have a negative impact on your metabolism,” says Toronto nutritionist Aviva Allen—your body might start storing extra fat in anticipation of more missed meals. Instead of eating less, consume small, nutrient-dense snacks and meals more often – every three hours is ideal – and try not to eat after seven o’clock at night, when your metabolism is at its slowest.
Most people shed a lot of pounds in the first couple of weeks of a program, a combo of carbs and water. It’s an artificially high drop, so don’t get discouraged when progress peters out.
It’s easy to get complacent when you’ve been dieting for a while. If you’ve slipped back into bad habits like plastering butter on your toast, nibbling while you’re cooking or having dessert every night, you may be taking in enough extra calories to prevent yourself from losing weight.
Avoid These 10 Weight Loss Mistakes if you really want to lose weight.