Losing weight can be difficult – and annoying, especially if you’re working out and sticking to your diet with military precision. But if you’re hitting a plateau, you aren’t alone in your frustrations. According to the Boston Medical Center, every year over 45 million Americans find themselves on some type of a diet. However over two thirds of Americans are overweight, which means there are millions of people out there who are finding it difficult to lose weight.
There are obvious causes of diet derailment such as, too many cocktails on the weekends, misjudging portions, and overdoing it on cheat days. However, there are also diet derailments that are easy to miss and therefore difficult to correct. If you are finding it hard to start losing weight or you have suddenly hit a weight loss plateau, you may be making one of these ten diet mistakes. Fixing even just one of them could be the thing to get you back on track and back on the road to weight loss success.
10. You Skip Meals
Skipping any meal will never help you lose weight, but skipping breakfast will completely backfire any plans of dropping pounds you may have. When you wake up your body has gone several hours without food, which means your metabolism is running slower. If you don’t give your body any nutrients in the morning, then your body continues to run slower than normal. But when you do give your body nutrients upon rising, it sparks your metabolism and gets you moving.
Most dietitians recommend eating breakfast within 30 minutes of waking up. Great choices for breakfast are greek yogurt with fruit and a handful of granola or an egg white omelette loaded with vegetables and a slice of whole wheat toast. When your breakfast is complete with healthy carbohydrates and protein, you are giving your body fuel to get you up and moving and feeling full until lunch time.
9. You Neglect an Entire Food Group
The concept of limiting starchy carbohydrates makes sense when considering weight loss. Your body uses carbohydrates as its main source of energy. However, when you ingest more carbohydrates than what you body needs to function, your body converts the unused glucose to glycogen and stores it in your liver. When you liver fills up with glycogen your body stores the extras as fat, thus leading to weight gain.
The natural thought process of removing carbohydrates from your diet will cause your body to burn fat instead of glucose, thus creating a weight loss effect is correct. When carbohydrates are limited to below 20 grams, your body enters a ketogenic state, meaning it does not have enough glucose to keep your brain and muscles functioning so it uses ketones to break down fat for energy.
While the process sounds like it should work like a charm, it has some side effects that will interrupt weight loss. Severe fatigue, dizziness, abdominal pain, confusion, and vitamin deficiency can result from prolonged limiting of carbohydrates. All of these side effects will make it difficult to function as well as exercise, which will in the end derail weight loss efforts.
8. You’re Not Drinking Enough Water
Water makes up to 60% of your body weight. It serves dozens of purposes, such as flushing out toxins from vital organs and maintaining continuous flow of the intestines and bowels. So it’s only natural that water would play a vital role in your ability to lose weight.
Most of us know that drinking eight glasses of water a day is necessary for proper hydration. But many do not know that when you allow your body to become dehydrated your kidneys can’t function properly. Your body ends up using the liver for support, which in turns forces your body to store fat rather than burn off glycogen.
In addition to assisting the kidneys, proper hydration also ensures that your body does not retain water. Sounds like a contradiction right? When your body enters dehydration it holds onto the water that you have in your body and organs. However, when you are properly hydrated your body is able to remove excess water from your body through urination and perspiration.
Finally, water is a natural appetite suppressant. Drinking a glass of water before a meal will help you feel full and lead to less calories consumed.
7. You’re Doing the Wrong Kind of Cardio
The old trends of hour long aerobics classes and moderate walking to burn calories and lose weight are largely gone. Now, after much research, experts have found that the most effective way to lose weight and inches from your waist line is high intensity interval training. Essentially short bursts of high intensity training (like sprints) mixed with short recovery periods. Combine HIIT with weight training and you will not only decrease your time at the gym, you will also gain muscle and lose fat.
High intensity interval training keeps your muscles guessing because you are going from high intensity to low intensity exercises during each workout. It also deters your muscles from breaking down, the way steady state cardio can do over a long period of time.
HIIT workout typically only take 30 minutes to perform. But don’t let the short time fool you. HIIT workouts are tough and will get you sweating. They are also perfect for fat loss because if done properly, HIIT workouts keep your body burning fat for up to 48 hours after a workout!
6. You Drink Too Many Calories
Drinking high calorie sugary drinks is one of the most common reasons that people do not lose weight. Mainly, because you don’t realize just how many calories you are consuming when you drink a 20 ounce bottle of soda. Most 20-oz bottles of soda have more than 200 calories and most of those calories come from sugar. More than 39 grams of sugar are found in every can of soda, which basically means you sucked down the equivalent of a few large scoops of sugar when you thought you were just sipping a tasty drink.
When you think about weight loss and high calorie, think in terms of mathematics. If you drink two 20oz Coca Colas, you are consuming 480 extra calories. If you switch those two drinks out for plain old water, you will reduce your weekly consumption of calories by 3,360 calories. Since a pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, you will be able to lose about one pound a week just by ditching your soda! The same idea goes for fruit juices – especially those that really don’t have an ounce of fruit in them – and high calorie coffee drinks.
5. You Don’t Get Enough Sleep
You’re supposed to get at least seven hours of quality sleep per night. Most of us don’t get close to that on a consistent basis. Or, if we do get over seven hours of sleep, it is interrupted by bathroom breaks, crying children, or a snoring spouse. Sleep, while a nuisance for those of us on the go, is essential to balancing our hormones and giving our body and mind time to recuperate from the day. Without it we lack energy, thus making us more susceptible to a sedentary lifestyle and sugar cravings.
Lack of sleep also disturbs the hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin cues us to eat. Leptin tells us to stop eating. When you lose sleep you have more ghrelin, thus making you overeat. You also have less leptin, which means we are not cued to stop eating. These hormone imbalances lead to weight gain.
4. You Have an Underlying Medical Condition
When you are following a strict diet, working out regularly, and keeping control of your portion sizes, but you are still having trouble losing weight, you may have an underlying medical condition. Several conditions can hinder weight loss or cause weight gain. Chronic stress such as anxiety or grief can produce and abundance of hormones called cortisol. Cortisol makes your body store fat and thus leads to weight gain.
Another psychological disorder that can cause weight gain is depression. Depressed individuals are less like to be active, tend to eat more, and often take medications that can lead to weight gain.
Cushing’s syndrome, which originates from an over production of cortisol by the adrenal glands, causes weight gain as well. Weight gain associated with Cushing’s syndrome is generally seen around the face, upper back, and abdomen. Hypothyroidism, an under active thyroid gland, result is your body not producing enough thyroid hormone, which results in a slower metabolism and a higher rate of fat storage. Insulin resistance, polycystic ovary syndrome, and hormonal changes all result in weight gain as well.
3. You’re Not Eating Enough Protein
Most people, especially women, tend to reach for high carbohydrate foods when they are in a rush simply because it is easier to grab a bagel than it is to cook a skillet of egg whites. But just by taking the time to add more protein and less carbohydrates to your diet, you would be surprised how quickly you might begin to lose weight. A 2003 study in the “Journal of Nutrition” stated that between two groups of overweight women who consumed the same number of calories, the group that consumed 128 grams of protein per day lost more weight than the members of the other group that consumed just 68 grams of protein per day.
As stated in reason #9, you cannot neglect carbohydrates as a whole, however you can adjust the amount of protein you eat per meal in combination with a slight reduction in carbohydrates to create a more balanced meal plan. This doesn’t mean you should add a big slab of steak to your breakfast, lunch, and dinner and expect to lose weight. But, consuming protein at every meal will foster more satiety at meal, which will help you feel fuller longer and prevent snacking.
If you are working out, protein is a must for weight loss. Protein builds and repairs muscles that have been broken down during exercise. In combination with whole grains, fruits and vegetables, protein consumption can be a major promoter of weight loss.
2. You Drown Your Food in Condiments
Condiments such as ketchup, mayonnaise, and salad dressings do contain calories – a lot of calories. Many dieters forget this when they are trying to liven up their ‘diet food’ with a bottle full of ketchup or jazz up their spinach salad with a cup of full-fat salad dressing. Much like sugary drinks, condiments tend to be overlooked and therefore never counted in calorie totals. But just a tablespoon of mayonnaise contains 90 calories and 10 grams of fat! Creamy Ranch salad dressing contains 73 calories and nearly 8 grams of fat in a tablespoon. Most often, when people are flavoring their food, they fail to realize just how little a tablespoon is and end up drowning their food in high calorie condiments.
In order to maintain weight loss, you should either limit your use of condiments or choose healthier, lower calorie condiments. Creamy dressings can be substituted for balsamic vinaigrette or lemon juice. Bar-b-que sauce, ketchup, and sweet and sour sauce can be substituted for mustard, horseradish, salsa, hummus, or lemon juice.
1. You’re Not Lifting Weights
Most women think that lifting weights will turn them into the Hulk. Not true. Most women do not have enough testosterone to bulk up. What weight lifting will do is rev up your metabolism, keep your bones strong, and decrease your waist size.
One Pen State study tested the theory of cardio vs. weight training and discovered that when dieters trained with weights they lost just as much weight as those who only did cardio or did not exercise at all. However, those that lifted weights lost six more pounds of fat while the others lost fat and muscle mass. In the end, losing muscle mass will cause your metabolism to slow because muscle burns more calories than fat. It also takes up less space than fat, which means your clothes will fit much better when you have more muscle.
Weight lifting – the kind that gets you sweating and leaves your muscles burning – may not burn as many calories during the exercise, but it will create an extra 100 calorie burn during the 24 hours after strength training. Weight lifting also reduces deep belly fat which guards against diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and some cancers.