Losing weight can seem very tough. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything right, yet still not getting results. You may actually be hindering your progress by following misguided or outdated advice. Here are common mistakes people make when trying to lose weight:
- Choosing Low-Fat or “Diet” Foods
Processed low-fat or “diet” foods are often considered good choices for losing weight, but they may actually have the opposite effect.
Many of these products are loaded with sugar to improve their taste.
For instance, one cup (245 grams) of low-fat, fruit-flavored yogurt can contain a whopping 47 grams of sugar (nearly 12 teaspoons).
Rather than keeping you full, low-fat products are likely to make you hungrier, so you end up eating even more.
Instead of low-fat or “diet” foods, choose a combination of nutritious, minimally processed foods.
- Eating Too Many or Too Few Calories
A calorie deficit is required for weight loss. This means you need to burn more calories than you consume.
For many years, it was believed that a decrease of 3,500 calories per week would result in 1 lb (.45 kg) of fat loss. However, recent research shows the calorie deficit needed varies from person to person.
You may feel as though you’re not eating very many calories. But in fact, most of us have a tendency to underestimate and underreport what we eat.
In a two-week study, 10 obese people reported consuming 1,000 calories per day. Lab testing showed they were actually taking in about 2,000 calories per day.
You may be consuming too many foods that are healthy but also high in calories, such as nuts and cheese. Watching portion sizes is key.
On the other hand, decreasing your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive.
Studies on very low-calorie diets providing less than 1,000 calories per day show they can lead to muscle loss and significantly slow down metabolism.
- Not Eating Whole, Single-Ingredient Foods
One of the worst things you can do for weight loss is to eat a lot of highly processed foods.
Animal and human studies suggest that processed foods may be a major factor in the current epidemic of obesity and other health problems.
Some researchers believe this could be due to their negative effects on gut health and inflammation.
In addition, whole foods tend to be self-limiting, meaning they are hard to overconsume. By contrast, it’s very easy to overeat processed foods.
When possible, choose whole, single-ingredient foods that are minimally processed.
- Only Focusing on the Scale Weight
It’s very common to feel like you’re not losing weight fast enough, despite faithfully sticking to your diet.
However, the number on the scale is only one measure of weight change. Weight is influenced by several things, including fluid fluctuations and how much food remains in your system.
In fact, weight can fluctuate by up to 4 lbs (1.8 kg) over the course of a day, depending on how much food and liquid you’ve consumed.
Also, increased estrogen levels and other hormonal changes in women can lead to greater water retention, which is reflected in scale weight.
If the number on the scale isn’t moving, you may very well be losing fat mass but holding on to water. Fortunately, you can do several things to lose water weight.
Additionally, if you’ve been working out, you may be gaining muscle and losing fat.
When this happens, your clothes may start to feel looser — especially around the waist — despite a stable scale weight.
Measuring your waist with a tape measure and taking monthly pictures of yourself can reveal you’re actually losing fat, even if the scale number doesn’t change much.
- Replacing Meals with Liquids
Green juices and smoothies are very popular right now, and a lot of people will use these as meal replacements.
Unfortunately, oftentimes these beverages aren’t made up of the right mix of nutrients. Green juices lack fiber and protein, which are key nutrients in keeping you full and helping you meet your nutrient recommendations, and smoothies are typically loaded in sugar from juice, sweeteners, or too much fruit, and can be really high in calories from oversized portions of healthy fat sources like nuts and seeds.