Dietitians Reveal 5 Most Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Losing weight and getting into shape means you have to make different choices — you have to prioritize exercise, and you have to eat healthier foods.
Scheduling time for physical activity is hard, but making smart food and beverage choices is important, too. There's a lot of misinformation and confusion out there it can be hard to figure out what's true and what is helpful.
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To help you reach your weight loss goals, we've reached out to some registered dietitians to weigh on on the five most common mistakes we should avoid.
Common Weight Loss Mistakes
#1 - Too Many Salads
Whenever I see someone talking about wanting to get in shape and lose weight, the first thing they gravitate to is a salad.
I mean lettuce is healthy, right?
They post on Instagram this salad that has more calories than if they were to have just eaten the Taco Bell they normally would have. It's loaded with meat, cheese, ranch, extra ranch, bacon, but hold the tomatoes.
Lauren Harris-Pincus, RDN, is the founder of NutritionStarringYOU and is the author of "The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club." She weighs in by saying how a salad could be a nutritious choice when filled with non-starchy veggies and lean protein. Going overboard on toppings can cause calories to add up quickly.
When making a salad, opt for a variety of fresh veggies and top your salad with grilled chicken or fish. Adding avocados or nuts, and a light vinaigrette will provide a tasty punch of nutrition.
Eating healthy means you eat a variety of nutritious foods. It doesn't mean you have to eat rabbit food every meal. Enjoy the lean cuts of meat, enjoy the flavorful fats, and fuel your body with healthy carbs.
#2 - Trying Fad Diets
Social media runs rampant with fad diets that promise you everything in the world if you just eat this terrible tasting soup every meal for two weeks. In many cases, these fad diets eliminate entire food groups. This isn't sustainable nor practical.
Even if you lose weight initially, you set yourself up for failure later,” said Lauren. “When you’re super restricted with what you can eat, it becomes really challenging to eat out and have a social life.”
Look, you know the frozen burritos aren't healthy. The more processed and "ready to go" a food is, the less likely it is to have the same nutrition as its whole food version.
Buy quality proteins, fresh fruits and vegetables, and some whole grain carbohydrates. You don't need anything fancy, just start with fresh ingredients and cook tasty dishes.
#3 - Waiting Too Long Between Meals
Have you ever snoozed through your alarm and you couldn't eat much of a breakfast?
As soon as you know it, it's 2 pm and your stomach is about to implode. Without having any food, you freak out and eat whatever you can around you. You've waited so long between meals that you are hungry... and your body is letting you know.
This can result in poor portion control and a blood sugar drop. This can derail your weight loss efforts.
Instead of waiting hours to eat, be sure to pack your lunch. If you can't stop for lunch, having a full meal or snack every four hours can keep you satisfied and away from binge eating whatever you can find in the office break room.
#4 - Having Cheat Days
Something I would do is allow myself a cheat day. I would restrict "bad" foods from my diet and on one day I could go at it.
While it worked some, I can tell you that restrictive dieting doesn't work... and I've lost 120 pounds twice now.
Instead of having this cheat day, strive to follow an 80/20 rule. That means that you should strive to have 80% of your calories come from nutritious, whole sources.
Start with a healthy protein like chicken or fish, add a healthy carb like rice or a potato, and grab as many fresh or steamed veggies that your plate can handle. The other 20% of your calories can come from your sinful treats.
So if you have a 2,000 calorie intake, that means you should aim for 1,600 calories from nutritious sources, and 400 calories from whatever you'd like.
#5 - Never Indulging
I'm down around 135 pounds right now and I eat great foods. I don't particularly have a sweet tooth, but I love some stir fry.
I do have my occasional chips, a four-piece jalapeno and cheddar bite, or the occasional frozen burrito... and that's okay because I get plenty of nutritious foods in my diet.
Breaking the habit of getting an extra scoop of ice cream or being conscious of how much you are eating takes time and a lot of work, but it's achievable. You can still have a Twinkie at night... just eat one.
Rachel Fine, RD is the owner of To The Pointe Nutrition. She says "the more you restrict foods, the more inclined you'll be to overdo it in the future."
It's true — it is easier to only have one or two pieces of pizza when it's not off-limits, but I may eat the whole large pizza if I restrict myself from eating it.