So you have finally decided to take back control and do something about your weight. You start your new dieting plan but you’re just not losing the weight you expected and you’re doing everything right… Or are you?
There is so much information out there these days that it is often hard to decipher the good from the bad and the downright crazy. With that in mind, I have pulled together a few common errors that we often make when setting out on our weight loss journeys.
1. Eating too much of the ‘good stuff’
We are always being told about the healthy foods, and especially the importance of healthy fats such as nuts and avocado. However, whilst being good for you, these types of food are also very calorie dense. Consuming them in large quantities could be taking you over your calorie goal, and therefore hindering your weight loss. Try to be mindful of the quantities you are eating in order to stay within your goal range.
Another sneaky issue is the amount of sugar within fruit. Whilst fruit is good for you in terms of its vitamin, minerals and fibre content etc, many of our much loved fruits are packed with sugar. I certainly don’t discourage eating fruit, but perhaps try swapping a couple of portions for vegetables instead to get that nutritional benefit with a little less sugar.
2. Not eating enough
Whilst this may sound like madness, not eating enough could actually be hindering your weight loss too. If you cut your intake drastically, your very clever body will react by slowing down your metabolism in order to preserve as much energy as possible, meaning that you will burn less calories whilst resting. In addition to this, undereating can often lead to you becoming hungry and tired and thus more likely to make poor food choices or overeat, thus undoing all of your hard work. Ensure you are eating enough to fuel your body’s needs, you should not be feeling tired or lacking in energy because of your diet.
3. Going overboard on your ‘cheat day’
When dieting, the tool of a ‘cheat’ (although I am not so keen on this term) can be very useful as a mental break and also as something to look forward to if you remain on track all week. However, if you are not careful, this could negate all of the progress you have made by eating well in the days preceding your ‘cheat’ day. In order to lose weight, we simply need to be in a caloric deficit over a period of time – this does not have to be each day, it can be a week or month for example. Therefore, if your calorie consumption is not too high throughout the week, you can still afford to enjoy a higher calorie meal/day and remain in caloric deficit for the week, thus prompting weight loss. The problem arises when you go completely overboard. For example, you decide Saturday will be your diet break and so you spend all day eating everything you can find that you wouldn’t eat during your week of dieting. This inevitably leads to consumption of too many calories and can mean you are no longer in a caloric deficit for the week.
Instead of cheat days, try to limit it to one meal and try to avoid the ‘need to eat it all in one go’ mentality – this is easier if you plan your next diet break meal as mentally it means you know you can have something different next week.
4. Not drinking enough water
Often when you think you are hungry, you are in fact thirsty! Yes believe it or not this is the case. Each time you think you need a snack, try drinking a glass of water and see what happens – if you are still hungry after that then get that snack but you may be surprised! It is also vitally important to stay hydrated throughout the day, so keep that water going in!
5. Drinking your calories
Often when dieting, we forget to think about the calories that we consume from drinks rather than food. If you opt for high sugar fruit juices or fizzy drinks, these calories can rack up more quickly than you might think. Instead try to swap them for water or diet drinks, personally I like sugar free squash as I enjoy something fruity without all of the sugar and calories.
6. Overestimating the calories you are burning
There is a good chance that with your new healthy eating regime, you may also start to exercise. In this case, it is a common mistake to have the attitude ‘I have exercised so can eat more’. Whilst this is technically the case, this usually leads to you eating more than you burned and in fact ending up in a net caloric surplus, thus completely defeating the object of exercising in the first place. If you use cardio machines in the gym, also be mindful that the calories burned calculated by the machine is based on an average person’s height, weight etc so is likely to be fairly inaccurate unless you meet those same metrics.
7. You may be dieting, but you’re not enjoying your food
Finally, what I would perceive to be the main reason diets fail – you are not enjoying your food. Just because it is healthy, does not mean it has to be bland and boring. There are so many interesting and super tasty recipes out there, such as this healthy pizza, which will not throw you off track on your weight loss mission. Have a look at healthy recipe books and online, you will be surprised! If you find meals that are interesting and you enjoy then you are less likely to feel as though you are ‘dieting’ and therefore it will be more sustainable.