Weight loss tips: 12 biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight fast
Not drinking enough water or eating too few calories, nutritionists reveal the common mistakes most people make when trying to lose weight. Learn how to not make these weight loss mistakes.
Losing weight can be tricky business. Even if you're armed with an arsenal of weight-loss tips, it can be tough to focus on your goals in a healthy, sustainable way. It's easy to mess up, but remember, knowledge is power —when you know the traps you're most likely to fall into, it's easier to steer clear. Registered dietitians know these roadblocks all too well, but that means they also know exactly how to help you get past them. We spoke with experts about the 12 most common mistakes you're likely to encounter if you're trying to lose weight, or eat healthier in general.
Before we get to them, though, it's important to understand that healthy eating looks different for everyone. "When it comes to weight loss as a goal, what works for some people may not work for others. It's really crucial to think about your reasons for wanting to lose weight — and whether pursuing weight loss is a healthy decision for you at all," says Kolkata-based dietician Anupam Dey. For instance, if you have a history of disordered eating, you should check in with your doctor before beginning any new nutrition plan at all, weight-loss oriented or otherwise, he suggests.
And even if you have no such history with disordered eating, it's still critical to be realistic with your expectations and focus on a health-based approach. "Weight loss is about so much more than counting calories. Your results will depend on getting enough high-quality sleep, limiting your stress levels, and can also be impacted by factors outside your control, like health conditions or hormones. The most important tip is to pay attention to your body, treat yourself well, and be kind to yourself above all," says Mumbai-based dietician and clinical nutritionist Geetanjali Shah.
Ahead, nutritionists reveal the biggest weight-loss mistakes and how to avoid them:
1. Focusing on what you can't eat.
"So many people embarking on a weight loss journey focus on what they can't have — such as no sugar, alcohol, dessert, bread or dairy. I like to tell my clients to focus on what they can have, like all the nutritious superfoods out there," says Shah.
2. Not having a solid plan.
Not having a solid, realistic plan is a mistake. People should set themselves up for success by coming up with small, challenging yet attainable action steps to work towards. "Start off with a few actionable and specific goals for the first week. Once you master those, keep adding on. Before you know it, those action steps will become lifelong healthy habits," says Shah.
3. Cutting out an entire food group.
When people are trying to lose weight, they often cut out an entire food group, like carbs or meat, but this usually just results in an unbalanced diet and even deficiencies in certain nutrients, says Shah. Plus, for most people, this is not sustainable for a lifetime. "I always say if you couldn't do it for the rest of your life, it's a diet that's probably not going to work in the long run," says Shah.
4. Steering clear of healthy fats.
“Many people are stuck eating low-fat or fat-free versions of food. A moderate amount of fat is important as it helps with satiety. Plus, people end up replacing fat with refined carbs, which can have a detrimental effect on health and weight," says Shah. Include healthy fat at every meal, in the form of nuts, seeds, oily fish, and dairy products, she suggests.
5. Replacing meals with liquids.
Juices and smoothies are very popular right now, and a lot of people will use these as meal replacements. Unfortunately, oftentimes these beverages aren’t made up of the right mix of nutrients. "Juices lack fibre and protein, which are key nutrients in keeping you full and helping you meet your nutrient recommendations, and smoothies are typically loaded in sugar from juice, sweeteners, or too much fruit, and can be really high in calories," says Shah.
6. Eating too few calories.
“The biggest pitfall I constantly see my clients falling into is the calorie counting trap," says Dey. We live in a culture that is so obsessed with calorie counting that oftentimes we are depriving our body of the very nutrients that will actually help us not only to live healthier, but lose more weight, he explains. “I try and help my clients transition from counting calories to counting nutrients because at the end of the day, what you eat is just as important as how much you eat," says Dey.
7. Not drinking enough water.
"A lot of my clients don’t drink enough water. Changing this habit is one of the easiest ways to help your health," says Dey. Studies show that drinking water or eating a water-rich salad or soup before a meal can help decrease how much you eat during the meal. "Figure out how you prefer to get your water: Do you like drinking from a bottle or a glass? Whatever your preference, keep a water container at your side as often as you can. You’ll reach for it a lot more," says Dey.
8. Ditching fruits and vegetables with high sugar content.
“Some people cut out certain fruits and vegetables because they think they contain too much sugar. Sure, some do contain a bit higher amount of naturally occurring sugars, but fruits also contain fibre, which helps counterbalance the effect on blood sugars. Compared to highly processed snacks and drinks, there is nothing to be worried about," says Dey.
9. Or not eating enough vegetables in general.
Adding organic leafy veggies like spinach, to a meal is an easy way to boost your leafy green vegetable intake, get closer to the daily vegetable recommendations, and feel energised, says Dey.
10. Relying on weight loss pills.
The bottom line here is if there was a pill or a potion that really worked in the long term, then not one of us would be talking about weight management at all. "The weight loss industry is so successful because we are so desperate to find a quick fix. The only long-term effective weight management skill is to change the way we think about fueling our bodies. We need to think of food as fuel for daily living and to fuel it the best way we can," says Shah.
11. Taking the weekends off from healthy eating.
You should take the weekends off from your job, not your diet, says Shah. Sure, you can still have fun and go out to eat on the weekends, but make an effort not to stuff yourself to the brim with food or drinks. "Simply eating mindfully when you are enjoying good food can be enough to not wreck your hard work during the week. If the weekends are a problem for you, try changing your weekend routine to include more exercise and healthier food choices," suggests Shah.
12. Eating too fast.
“When you take the time to chew, taste, and savour your food, you naturally eat less and enjoy your meals even more. It takes around 20 minutes for your brain to catch up to your stomach, so eating more slowly can help you realise when you’re satisfied,” says Shah.