Q:In trying to troubleshoot why I am not losing weight, what are the top 5 most common weight loss mistakes?
At Heart In Motion, I often get asked to troubleshoot diet dilemmas, to help people get to the root of what is stalling their weight loss. Today, I decided to to my own Q&A from the questions I answer on a daily basis. There are many potential causes of stalled weight loss, but here are the 5 I see most often.
Doing everything all at once. From a weight loss perspective, you can lose a great deal of weight at the very beginning of a diet that cuts calories, carbs, fat, etc. Once your body realizes what you are doing though, your stress hormone cortisol begins to be chronically elevated. This eventually slows weight loss, causes plateaus, and actually can cause and INCREASE IN BELLY FAT.
-Instead, make one change per week. This allows your metabolism to adjust to the change, and it will stay high or even increase because of it. Some examples include eliminating your packaged afternoon snack and adding a piece of fruit with some protein or creating a carb curfew. These changes lead not only to short term weight loss, but more importantly to long term weight loss.
Eating diet foods. When you just cut calories, fat, carbs but do not look at the quality of your food, you will eventually get results that you are not looking for. Studies show that when groups are compared that eat the same amount of calories but compare whole food v/s fake food, those who eat fake food SETPOINT AT A HIGHER WEIGHT. So when you are trying to lose weight, avoid the diet aisle and eat whole foods instead. There will always be people who can lose weight eating McDonalds…… IF it is lower than what they were eating before, but what is the long term effect of that? Most people with eventually experience hormonal disruption from the additives in these foods, so it is best not to try them ; ).
3. Just counting calories. It is an age old myth that this is the best way to lose weight. Of course, calorie deprivation is one way to lose weight, but it is often very difficult and not sustainable. Instead, give your body a moderate amount of calories, but pay attention to carbohydrates. When you eat low calories but an excess of carbs, your body will lose weight, but it will lose more muscle than fat. When we eat excess carbs, our pancreas secretes more insulin than we can use. As insulin is a regulator of fat storage, YOUR BODY CANNOT BURN SIGNIFICANT FAT IN THE PRESENCE OF INSULIN, so paying attention to them is important. Aim for low glycemic foods like green veggies and protein, and keep carbs to small side dishes.
4. Looking for the quick fix. Of course there are programs out there that will give you weight loss without the work….at least short term. So many of us flock to these programs for a detox or a “jump start.” When these programs are over, you have 2 potential outcomes 1. Your metabolism goes back to normal, so you need to stay on the supplements indefinitely or 2. You STILL need to make the diet and lifestyle changes necessary to maintain your weight. Either way, you will have to change your lifestyle to maintain the weight you have lost. Why not do that in the first place?
5. Deprivation diets and extreme exercise. There is no argument that this will work short-term, but is is enjoyable or sustainable? You can exercise like crazy and a calorie restricted diet for a period of time and no doubt lose weight, but unless you keep it up, the weight will come back. When you engage in extreme strategies, your metabolism drops and your hormonal balance becomes disrupted leading to short term weight loss but long term frustration as the hormones will not allow the weight loss to be maintained. Learning sustainable weight loss strategies is critical to long term success. Over-exercising will eventually cause a chronic elevation in cortisol levels which will lead to fat storage instead of fat loss anyway. Short burst of intense exercise and a moderate workout schedule are key to long-term success. If there’s no wagon to fall off of, you can’t fall off the wagon!