Most overweight people have probably followed at least one weight loss diet and have not achieved the results they hoped for. Or you might even have lost weight but, after a few weeks, you regained the weight you lost.
This can be for several reasons but there are a number of all-too common mistakes that most people make when following a weight-loss diet. I know I made these mistakes when I first tried to lose weight and so did my friends.
In this article, I want to share FIVE common mistakes to avoid and along with alternatives to help you eliminate these potential threats to your weight loss goals.
1. Eating processed food
Processed food, check our hot dog example here, usually contains high levels of sugar, fat, and salt which results in lots of calories but without providing nutrients, vitamins, protein, or fiber. That’s why you don’t feel full after eating processed food although you have eaten a lot of calories.
Avoid eating processed food. If you can’t avoid it, reduce it or, even better, substitute with healthier options and create a new healthy habit.
Instead of saying no, go other way, a healthier way!
Breakfast cereal – High in sugar
Replace with: Buy cereals made with whole grains and with little or no added sugar
Cookies, cakes, donuts – High in calories, trans-fat, and sugar
Replace with: Can’t avoid cakes? Make homemade cakes and cut 1/3 of the sugar from the recipe
Frozen dinners – High in calories, low on nutrients
Replace with: Make your own frozen dinners by spending an hour on Sunday making and then freezing healthy, nutritious, meals for the rest of the week
Ice cream – High in sugar and trans-fats
Replace with: Make your own ice creams or yogurt smoothies
2. Added Sugar
Added sugar is only processed by the liver and as your body doesn’t need much sugar, most of the added sugar that we eat is converted to and then stored as fat.
Fructose does not suppress ghrelin and leptin, the hunger and satiety hormones. After eating a lot of sugar, your brain doesn’t get the message that is full and you continue to feel hungry. You eat more when you have already had enough.
“Added sugars contribute zero nutrients but many added calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity, thereby reducing heart health.”
The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) per day for men.
A 12-ounce can of Coke contains 9 teaspoons of sugar.
All Bran cereal contains 5.5 teaspoons of sugar per 100 grams
Tomato Ketchup contains 6 teaspoons of sugar per 100 grams
What about Fruit? Fruit contains fructose, so should I also avoid it? No, not all.
Fruit contains natural sugar in small quantities along with fiber and vitamins. Fiber slows your body’s digestion and makes you feel fuller for longer
Pears contain 9.80 grams of sugar (2.45 teaspoons)
Apples contain 10 grams of sugar (2.5 teaspoons)
Fixes and Alternatives
Avoid soft drinks, sugars, candy, cakes, cookies, pies, and fruit drinks. Drink water or drink water with flavors but no added sugar
Read the nutrition label before purchasing a product and look to see if it contains sugar and how much. 1 teaspoon is equivalent of 4 grams of sugar.
Eat fruit and drink fruit smoothies to reduce sugar cravings
Want to see results? For 1 week don’t eat any added sugar and I’m sure you’ll feel lighter, less hungry, suffer fewer cravings, and have more energy.
3. Skipping breakfast
After a 6-8 hours sleeping, your stomach is empty and your body needs energy.
Approximately 31 million Americans choose to skip breakfast to lose weight, while 10% always have a high sugar/high fat breakfast (a soda, donuts, eggs with ham or bacon), and only 7% start the day healthily.
Studies (by NCMI) show no relation between losing weight and skipping breakfast. As with any other main meal of the day I don’t like to skip breakfast; I prefer to have healthy meals instead.
My recommendation is don’t skip breakfast. Instead go for a light and healthy breakfast.
Start your day drinking 2 cups of plain water to hydrate your body.
Pick two seasonal fruits, slice them and mix with plain yogurt (sugar-free if possible, or even better, use Kefir). Enjoy!
This is a light meal for your empty stomach that contains vitamins, natural sugar (to boost your energy levels), fiber (to make you feel full for a couple of hours) and vitamins.
4. Minimizing calories with the wrong foods
A calorie is a unit of energy. Although a calorie is not a calorie. In nutrition, everything is calculated using calories (or kilocalories kcal). Different energy sources result in the same number of calories, but the effects on your body are totally different.
A can of coke contains 140 calories, mainly from 39 grams of sugars.
Our strawberry banana smoothie, recipe here, contains 150 calories from Protein (6g), Carbs (7g) Healthy Fats (3g) and Fibers (1 gram).
Both have a similar number of calories, but our strawberry banana smoothie has different sources of energy providing nutrients, fiber, and vitamins, while the coke mainly has only sugar.
That’s why you feel full after drinking a strawberry banana smoothie, and not with a can of coke.
A calorie from healthy fat is not the same as a calorie from trans-fats. A calorie from protein is not the same as a calorie from added sugar.
It’s important to understand the sources of energy, and think about more than just calories alone. You need to know what else is in your food above and beyond the calories.
Don’t get obsessed with cutting calories. Instead, eat food containing healthy sources of energy.
It’s not only about how many calories your food contains but what else does the food provide? Does it contain fiber? Healthy fat ( “How to choose healthy fats“) ? No sugar ? Protein ? Is it healthy? Being low in calories is not enough!
When you are on a 2000-calorie diet, you could eat burgers and fries OR eat healthy food (healthy recipes here). Needless to say, you’ll get much better results if you eat healthy foods as the energy from burgers and fries, plus the trans fats and other toxins, make burning fat harder.
5. It’s Not a onetime thing
It’s a common mistake to put a lot of effort on a 15, 21, 25 or 30-day diet plan and, once it’s finished, to go back to your old, unhealthy habits. This will cause you to regain your weight and your results are gone.
Nutrition is all about education, understanding your body, and learning what you should eat, what to avoid and how to have a balanced diet to keep your body and mind healthy.
Once you learn about your body, you’ll learn to create healthier eating habits (how to create the healthy smoothie habit), and that’s the purpose of a diet. It’s not a onetime thing, it’s a habit to incorporate in your daily life.
When you start a diet plan (“How to lose weight with meal replacement shakes“), take the challenge to learn and change your eating habits; your body will appreciate it and so too will your mood.
I’m not saying to forget your goal of losing weight, I’m just saying change your bad habits, create new ones, and repeat these new healthy habits forever. That’s how you not only lose weight but keep it off too.
This is the only way to maintain your results, avoid regaining the weight you lost, and to continue feeling healthy. Diets are NOT short-term fixes.
Trying and failing, try again and succeed. That’s probably the best recipe for any personal achievement. But, let’s learn from our mistakes so that, next time, we don’t make the same ones again.