The basics of weight loss seem pretty obvious: Consume less calories, exercise on the regular, and ditch the junk food. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. It all seems straightforward, but if you’re not careful, popular dieting mistakes will set you back.
These mistakes didn’t come out of the blue. They stem from common weight loss myths! Yet, like many aspects of health, eating to lose weight isn’t a sweet and simple process. There’s a heck of a lot to it. The goal is to avoid messing with your own metabolism. To do so, ditch common diet mistakes. Even if you have all the motivation in the world, making these blunders will only thwart your weight loss success.
Mistake #1: Skipping Meals
Eat less, weigh less, right? According to science, this is far from the truth. When you skip a meal, hunger is more likely to skyrocket. You’ll be starving later on in the day. This is especially true after skipping breakfast, a habit associated with weight gain, high blood cholesterol, and poor glucose control.1
Plus, extreme hunger doesn’t bring on the best food choices. It’ll be tempting to grab anything (and everything) in sight, especially if you’re at work or on the go.
Mistake #2: Ditching Carbohydrates
Not all carbs are bad. Let’s say it again, folks: Not all carbs are bad. When carbs are digested, they break down into glucose, the body’s primary source of energy. Glucose isn’t stored like protein or fat, so you need to replenish it throughout the day. Skimping on carbohydrates will just make the body and brain slow down.
While fat can be broken down into ketone bodies, they’re very efficient. It can also be harmful to the body. The solution? Choose “good” carbohydrates. Instead of refined white bread or pasta, reach for whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. The fiber in these foods will actually aid your weight loss goals by increasing satiety.2
Mistake #3: Avoiding All Fats
It’s the same story. Not all fat is equal! The “bad guys” are saturated and trans fats. They heighten the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and early mortality.3 It’s the reason why foods like fried chicken and potato chips aren’t healthy.
On the other hand, unsaturated fats are good news. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids improve blood cholesterol and glycemic control, so why avoid them? Besides, fat is a major macronutrient, and it’ll help boost satiety.45 Eating healthy fats will only help your weight loss goals. Delicious options include avocado, unsalted nuts, and fatty fish.
Mistake #4: Drinking Your Meals
Meal replacement shakes seem like a quick fix. With little to no effort, you can easily cut calories. Unfortunately, liquid food doesn’t satisfy hunger like solid meals, so a grumbling stomach will show up sooner than later. The act of chewing and digesting food also burns more calories. And while many shakes claim to contain tons of nutrients, nothing ever beats the real thing.6
For the sake of a happy stomach, eat whole meals whenever possible.
Mistake #5: Consuming Diet Soda
At first, diet soda sounds like a good idea. The artificial sweeteners are sweeter than normal sugar but offer zero calories. Isn’t it a great way to get your fix without the guilt?
Sadly, that’s not the case. Artificial sweeteners don’t satisfy the same taste pathways as real sugar, so you’ll be left with a growing craving. The brain can tell the difference.7On the short-term, diet soda is useful for weening yourself off soda. Otherwise, it’s not a wise choice. Infused waters, fruit smoothies, and homebrewed teas are much healthier alternatives.
Need more guidance? Consult a nutritionist. She can help you navigate the grocery store, prepare meals, and work with your allergies and preferences.
|↑1||Neumann, Brianna L., Amy Dunn, Dallas Johnson, J. D. Adams, and Jamie I. Baum. “Breakfast Macronutrient Composition Influences Thermic Effect of Feeding and Fat Oxidation in Young Women Who Habitually Skip Breakfast.” Nutrients 8, no. 8 (2016): 490.|
|↑2||D’Anci, Kristen E., Kara L. Watts, Robin B. Kanarek, and Holly A. Taylor. “Low-carbohydrate weight-loss diets. Effects on cognition and mood.” Appetite 52, no. 1 (2009): 96-103.|
|↑3||De Souza, Russell J., Andrew Mente, Adriana Maroleanu, Adrian I. Cozma, Vanessa Ha, Teruko Kishibe, Elizabeth Uleryk et al. “Intake of saturated and trans unsaturated fatty acids and risk of all cause mortality, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes: systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies.” Bmj 351 (2015): h3978.|
|↑4||Garg, Abhimanyu. “High-monounsaturated-fat diets for patients with diabetes mellitus: a meta-analysis.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 67, no. 3 (1998): 577S-582S.|
|↑5||Crescenzo, Raffaella, Francesca Bianco, Arianna Mazzoli, Antonia Giacco, Rosa Cancelliere, Giovanni di Fabio, Armando Zarrelli, Giovanna Liverini, and Susanna Iossa. “Fat quality influences the obesogenic effect of high fat diets.” Nutrients 7, no. 11 (2015): 9475-9491.|
|↑6||Pan, An, and Frank B. Hu. “Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food.” Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care 14, no. 4 (2011): 385-390.|
|↑7||Frank, Guido KW, Tyson A. Oberndorfer, Alan N. Simmons, Martin P. Paulus, Julie L. Fudge, Tony T. Yang, and Walter H. Kaye. “Sucrose activates human taste pathways differently from artificial sweetener.” Neuroimage 39, no. 4 (2008): 1559-1569.|