You could be accidentally disrupting your body’s natural ability to lose weight, and isn’t it hard enough already? Common diet mistakes can prevent women from achieving their ideal, healthy weight by interfering with the weight loss process.
While there are many factors involved with losing excess weight, you’ll have more success if you understand what your body needs — and doesn’t need — when you are trying to lose weight. Clearing away obstacles — both mental and physical — allows you to work with your body to shed excess pounds.
Scan these common weight loss mistakes and see how simple it can be to correct them. Then you can finally gain some traction toward finding the weight that makes you happy.
Mistake #1: Eating low-fat foods or fat-free foods.
When manufacturers engineer food to be low fat or fat-free, they improve the taste by pouring in extra sugar, salt and additives. To lose weight, you need to eat whole foods instead of demonizing individual ingredients like fat. Studies show clearly that when people choose reduced- fat or fat-free dairy products, they consistently make up the difference by eating extra sugar and carbohydrates.
“Studies show that when people choose reduced-fat or fat-free dairy products, they consistently make up the difference by eating extra sugar and carbohydrates.”
People also tend to eat a lot more of fat-free foods — especially those with artificial sweeteners. Fat is essential to the weight loss process because it helps keep you full by slowing digestion. Healthy fat helps regulate hormones — a crucial key to active weight loss. So eat fat, but choose wisely.
Easy fixes: Select healthy, full fat foods and enjoy them in sensible amounts:
- Two tablespoons of peanut butter on a banana makes a great snack.
- Have an egg for breakfast.
- Toss your salad with 1-2 tablespoons of regular vinaigrette instead of low-fat dressing.
- Snack on nuts or a serving of full-fat, unsweetened yogurt topped with fresh berries.
Mistake #2: Underestimating the challenges of “eating healthy” for weight loss.
An unhealthy diet is probably the result of lifelong habits that started in childhood. If you’ve been trying to lose weight along the way, you may have inadvertently picked up bad practices. Top offenders include not eating enough at mealtime or skipping breakfast completely. Both actually slow down your metabolism by stressing your body.
When you start to choose healthier foods for weight loss, give yourself time to break old eating habits. It’s tempting — but not realistic — to say you’re going to suddenly eat nothing but vegetables and lean protein. Plunging yourself immediately into an entirely new way of eating is a recipe for failure.
Easy fixes: Start small!
- Switch out one snack per day for a fruit (try a pear with almond butter or half an avocado with lime).
- Add an extra serving of vegetables at dinner.
- Trade bread for a baked potato topped with salsa, diced artichoke or cottage cheese.
- Consider trying a supplement with extra minerals (calcium, magnesium, chromium) B vitamins, and cutting-edge, metabolism-supporting ingredients with good research behind them.
Mistake #3: Eating processed “diet” foods.
Pre-packaged “diet” foods seem like such a great idea: just heat up a frozen “diet” entrée for dinner or grab some pre-packaged “diet” crackers. But a single serving of many processed weight-loss foods can have more salt than a 8 snack-size bags of potato chips! Other unhealthy additives are common too.
Sugar-free or low-sugar processed foods and drinks are just as bad because they contain artificial sweeteners that shockingly are linked to higher risk for obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome and heart disease. Other unhealthy processed foods include colorful “veggie” chips, fast-food smoothies and turkey burgers, which can contain extra saturated fat and skin.
Easy fix: This one is easy. Stay away — far away — from the diet-food aisle at the supermarket and watch out for frozen limited-calorie dinner options. With the exception of a good quality protein bar every now and then, processed foods will not help you lose weight and you may even add a few pounds. Instead, set aside a little time for meal prep and steam a medley of vegetables, then grill or broil chicken, fish or lean beef. Season with salt and pepper and chopped fresh herbs and enjoy. Whole foods like these feed your body with solid nutrition — an absolute necessity when you’re ready to lose weight.
Mistake #4: Not drinking enough water.
The second most popular soda in the US is Diet Coke, with at least four other diet brands in the top ten. Many women trying to lose weight drink gallons of these drinks, which have no nutritional value and are loaded with artificial sweeteners and unpleasant chemicals hidden in the ingredients as “natural flavors”.
One study showed that people who drink diet sodas had 70% greater increases in weight. And bottled iced tea is no better — diet or regular. Juices seem healthy but are packed with sugar, and their recommended serving sizes are only eight ounces or less. You end up wasting your calories on drinks that don’t fill you up or provide nutrients.
Easy fix: Trade one daily diet soda (or other drink) for a tall, cool glass of water and build up your water consumption a little more every week going forward. A large new study found that increasing daily water intake by 1-to-3 cups is linked to taking in fewer calories and eating less. By substituting water for other drinks, people also ate much less sugar and salt.
You CAN lose weight — with a few small repairs to your diet
Every one of us knows how challenging it can be to lose weight and keep it off. Give yourself a real advantage by choosing any of these easy fixes to move forward and gain momentum toward your weight loss goal. Plus you’ll be eating healthier and giving your body the support it needs during the active weight loss process. Go for it!
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S Swithers. Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism. Volume 24, Issue 9, p431–441, September 2013. http://www.cell.com/trends/endocrinology-metabolism/abstract/S1043-2760(13)00087-8. Accessed 8.12.16.
J McCaffrey. Plain water consumption in relation to energy intake and diet quality among US adults, 2005–2012. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 22 February 2016. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jhn.12368/abstract. Accessed 8.12.16