14 Common Weight Loss Mistakes
Losing weight, for a lot of people, can seem very tough. Sometimes you feel like you’re doing everything right, yet still not getting the results you’re looking for.
For most of these people, they’re probably hindering their progress by following misguided or outdated advice from the mountain of so-called diet and fitness gurus popping up daily, that we see on social media these days; the Instagram Hero's as we call them!
Just because they’ve had success with themselves, doesn’t give them an ounce of validity in charging others for advice, especially without degree level qualifications to support the guidance they’re providing 😉
Here are 14 common weight loss mistakes we see people making when trying to cut body fat:
- Only focusing on their weight seen at the Scales!
- Eating too many or too few calories
- Not exercising or exercising too much
- Not lifting weights
- Choosing low-fat or “diet” foods
- Overestimating how many calories you burn during exercise
- Not eating enough protein
- Not eating enough fibre
- Eating too much fat on a low-carb diet
- Eating too often, even if you’re not hungry
- Having unrealistic expectations
- Not tracking what you eat in any form
- Still drinking sugar
- Not eating whole, single-ingredient foods
Lets delve a little deeper into each of these mistakes and help you avoid making them yourselves...
COMMON WEIGHT LOSS MISTAKES
1. Only focusing on their weight seen at the Scales!
It’s very common to feel like you’re not losing weight fast enough, despite faithfully sticking to your diet. However, the numbers you see on the scales is only one measure of weight change. Weight is influenced by several things, including fluid fluctuations, how much food remains in your system, and of course body composition (the muscle mass to body fat ratio).
In fact, weight can fluctuate by up to 4 lbs (1.8 kg) over the course of a day, depending on how much food and liquid you’ve consumed.
Also, for women increased oestrogen levels and other hormonal changes, can lead to greater water retention, which is reflected in your weight on the scales. If the number on the scale isn’t moving, you may very well be losing fat mass but holding on to water. Fortunately, you can do several things to lose water weight.
If you’ve been working out, you may be gaining muscle and losing fat. When this happens, your clothes may start to feel looser — especially around the waist — despite a stable weight on the scales. Measuring your waist with a tape measure and taking monthly pictures of yourself can reveal you’re actually losing fat, even if the scale number doesn’t change much.
2. Eating too many or too few calories
A calorie deficit is required for weight loss.
This means you need to burn more calories than you consume. For many years, it has been believed that a decrease of 3,500kcal per week results in 1 lb (.45 kg) of fat loss. However, recent research shows the calorie deficit needed may actually vary from person to person, although starting out with a 3500kcal deficit is still a good rule of thumb and a play to start before assessing your progress.
You may feel as though you’re not eating very many calories. But in fact, most of us have a tendency to underestimate and under report what we eaten. In a two-week study, 10 obese people reported consuming 1,000 calories per day. Lab testing showed they were actually taking in about 2,000 calories per day – double!
One area of confusion for many here is consuming too many foods that are actually healthy, but also high in calories, such as nuts and nut butters.
On the other hand, decreasing your calorie intake too much can be counterproductive. Studies on very low-calorie diets providing less than 1,000 calories per day show they can lead to muscle loss and significantly slow down metabolism.
3. Not exercising or exercising too much
During weight loss, you inevitably lose some muscle mass as well as fat, although the amount depends on several factors. If you don’t exercise at all while restricting calories, you’re likely to lose more muscle mass and experience a decrease in metabolic rate. By contrast, exercising helps minimise the amount of lean mass you lose, boost fat loss and prevent your metabolism from slowing down. The more lean mass you have, the easier it is to lose weight and maintain the weight loss.
However, over-exercising can also cause problems. Studies show excessive exercise is unsustainable in the long term for most people and may lead to exercise induced stress.
Trying to force your body to burn more calories by exercising too much is neither effective nor healthy. Lifting weights and doing cardio several times per week is a sustainable strategy for maintaining metabolic rate during weight loss. If you’re unsure about your training regime, contact our Founder & head coach, Ben Steven Hunter, who can create a tailored training plan suited to your individual requirements.
4. Not lifting weights
Performing resistance training is incredibly important during weight loss. Studies show lifting weights is one of the most effective exercise strategies for gaining muscle and increasing metabolic rate. It also improves overall body composition and boosts belly fat loss.
In fact, a review of 15 studies with more than 700 people found the best strategy of all for weight loss appears to be combined aerobic exercise and weightlifting.
5. Choosing low-fat or “diet” foods
Processed low-fat or “diet” foods are often considered good choices for losing weight, but they may actually have the opposite effect. Many of these products are loaded with sugar to improve their taste. For instance, 245 grams of low-fat, fruit-flavoured yoghurt can contain a whopping 47 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons!).
Plus rather than keep you full, low-fat products are likely to make you hungrier, so you end up eating even more. Instead of low-fat or “diet” foods, choose a combination of nutritious, minimally processed foods.
6. Overestimating how many calories you burn during exercise
Many people believe that exercise “supercharges” their metabolism. Although exercise increases metabolic rate somewhat, it may actually be less than you think. In one study, people burned 200 and 300 calories during exercise sessions. Yet when asked, they estimated they had burned over 800 calories. As a result, they ended up eating more. That being said, exercise is still crucial for overall health and can help you lose weight. It’s just not as effective at burning calories as some people think.
7. Not eating enough protein
Getting enough protein is extremely important if you’re trying to lose weight. Protein has been shown to help with weight loss in several ways. It can reduce appetite, increase feelings of fullness, decrease calorie intake, increase metabolic rate and protect muscle mass during weight loss.
In a 12-day study, people ate a diet containing 30% of calories from protein. They ended up consuming an average of 575 fewer calories per day than when they ate 15% of calories from protein.
8. Not eating enough fibre
A low-fibre diet may be compromising your weight loss efforts. Studies show a type of soluble fibre known as viscous fibre helps reduce appetite by forming a gel that holds water. This gel moves slowly through your digestive tract, making you feel full.
9. Eating too much fat on a low-carb diet
Ketogenic and low-carb diets can be very effective for weight loss. Studies show they tend to reduce appetite, which often leads to a spontaneous reduction in calorie intake. Many low-carb and ketogenic diets allow unlimited amounts of fat, assuming that the resulting appetite suppression will keep calories low enough for weight loss.
However, some people may not experience a strong enough signal to stop eating. As a result, they may be consume too many calories to achieve a calorie deficit. If you’re adding large amounts of fat to your food or beverages and are not losing weight, you may want to cut back on the fat.
10. Eating too often, even if you’re not hungry
For many years, the conventional advice has been to eat every few hours in order to prevent hunger and a drop in metabolism. Unfortunately, this can lead to too many calories being consumed over the course of the day. You may also never truly feel full.
In one study, blood sugar levels and hunger decreased while metabolic rate and feelings of fullness increased in men who consumed 3 meals versus 14 meals within a 36-hour time frame.
The recommendation to eat breakfast every morning, regardless of appetite, also appears to be misguided. One study found when people skipped breakfast, they took in more calories at lunch than when they’d eaten a morning meal. However, they consumed an average of 408 fewer calories for the day overall!
11. Having unrealistic expectations
Having weight loss and other health-related goals can help keep you motivated. But having unrealistic expectations can actually work against you. Researchers analysed data from several weight loss centre programs. They reported overweight and obese women who expected to lose the most weight were the most likely to drop out of a program after 6 to 12 months.
Adjust your expectations to a more realistic and modest goal, such as a 10% drop in weight in one year. This can help prevent you from getting discouraged and improve your chances for success.
12. Not tracking what you eat in any form
Eating nutritious foods is a good weight loss strategy. However, you may still be eating more calories than you need to lose weight. What’s more, you may not be getting the right amount of protein, fibre, carbs and fat to support your weight loss efforts.
Studies show that tracking what you eat can help you get an accurate picture of your calorie and nutrient consumption, as well as provide accountability. In addition to food, most online tracking sites and apps allow you to enter your daily exercise as well.
13. Still drinking sugar
Many people cut soft drinks and other sweetened beverages out of their diet to lose weight, which is a great thing. However, drinking fruit juice instead isn’t smart – in fact in some case can be even worse!.
Even 100% fruit juice is loaded with sugar and may lead to health and weight problems similar to those caused by sugar-sweetened beverages. For instance, 330ml of unsweetened apple juice contain 34 grams of sugar. That’s even more than in the same volume of coke.
What’s more, liquid calories don’t seem to affect the appetite centres in your brain the same way calories from solid foods do. Studies show that you end up consuming more calories overall, instead of compensating for the liquid calories by eating less later in the day.
14. Not eating whole, single-ingredient foods
One of the worst things you can do for weight loss is to eat a lot of highly processed foods. Animal and human studies suggest that processed foods may be a major factor in the current epidemic of obesity and other health problems.
Some researchers even believe this could be due to their negative effects on gut health and inflammation. Whole foods tend to be self-limiting, meaning they are hard to over-consume. By contrast, it’s very easy to overeat processed foods. When possible, choose whole, single-ingredient foods that are minimally processed.