What are the Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes We Make?

Jane Sandwood is a professional freelance writer and editor with over 10 years’ experience delivering print and online content. Jane has a particular interest in issues relating to health, fitness and nutrition.

In our pursuit of a lean, healthy body, one of the biggest mistakes we make, is viewing weight loss as a lifestyle. You may know someone who constantly seems to be on one diet or another, or you yourself may yo-yo between a healthy weight and feeling heavy and sluggish. If so, it may be time to question your part in the never-ending struggle: do you, too, tend to make one of the common weight loss errors?

Starving or Bingeing

One of the keys to losing or maintaining weight is working out how much to eat. Research shows only 11% of Americans estimate their daily caloric requirements accurately. Even if you opt for a low carbohydrate plan, you should still ensure that your caloric intake does not exceed what you require, since you can become accustomed to large portions and a greater frequency of meals than you actually need. Starvation is equally dangerous; it leads to muscle loss, slows down the metabolism and wrests the energy you need to work out. It can also lead to cravings for sugary foods, which, when consumed regularly, can lead to insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Don’t commit the common dieting error of eating too many times a day, either; research shows that those who consume only three times a day have a higher metabolic rate and lower blood glucose levels, than those who have various smaller meals. We should also be careful with ‘healthy foods’ such as fruits and juices; although they should play an important role in our daily diet, this does not mean we can eat copious amounts – in fact, fruits which are high on the glycemic index scale can actually shunt large amounts of glucose into our bloodstream.

Cardio ‘Til you Drop

Cardiovascular exercise is vital for fat burning, but it should be complemented by strength training and mindfulness based activities such as yoga. It is important to keep muscle mass when losing fat, which exercises such as bench presses, squats and deadlifts can achieve. Strength training will help you burn more calories, to speed up weight loss. Mindfulness, meanwhile, will help you identify real hunger and satiety and help you make reasoned food choices both at home and when you are dining out.

Skimping on Protein

Research has shown that a Mediterranean diet (comprising healthy lean proteins, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables and healthy Omega-3 fats such as extra-virgin olive oil) is a sensible way to approach weight loss and maintenance. Many dieters shun protein because they fear it has “too many calories”. In fact, protein is vital for muscle mass maintenance and it has the ability to help us feel satiated. Thus, one interesting study showed that people on a diet with 30% of calories obtained from protein, ended un eating 575 less calories a day than when only 15% of their caloric intake came from protein.

Married to Dieting

It is important to build a healthy relationship to food if your weight loss program is to stand a chance of success. Dieting as a lifestyle – hopping from one diet to the next or, worse yet, repeatedly going on and off the same diet – is detrimental from a psychological perspective, because it wrests from one of the most valuable qualities to have when you need to lose weight: motivation. It is important to know ourselves, to remove blame and self-criticism and to discover the reasons why we may have an unhealthy relationship to food. Are we overeating because of stress, or to fill an emotional void? Do we feel inadequate, that nothing we do is ever enough, thereby sabotaging our own chances of success?

Food is one of life’s greatest enjoyments, so it is important to ensure we are not in a constant state of deprivation. Weight loss should be viewed as a goal that we strategically plan to achieve within a set time frame. By ensuring we don’t eat too little or too much, making protein an important part of our regimen, including weights and resistance training in our workouts, and analysing the psychological reasons for overeating, we can begin our journey towards weight loss and maintenance.

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