Losing weight can be challenging for many people. The weight loss and diet industry have grown to a 71 billion dollar industry, with studies showing that 95% of diets fail long-term. Fad diets can contribute to endless yo-yo of weight-loss and weight-gain that can cause muscle loss, lead to disordered eating, and can cause serious health issues. As a Certified Exercise Physiologist and award-winning weight loss Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, in this blog I’m sharing the most common weight loss mistakes.
1- Going No Carb
You’ll lose weight by cutting carbs. I’ve seen many people lose a lot of weight on a low-carb diet (20g carb or less daily). Unfortunately, I’ve also gained all that weight back plus more just as soon as they reintroduce carbs.
Most people I see have LONG TERM success with a moderate-carb diet (90-120g of carb a day) balanced with protein and healthy fat. Ensure your carb is only a fraction of the meal (unless you’re athletic training). Make that carb a high fiber choice (3g of fiber or more) and pair with a lean protein such as Designer Wellness proteins, Protein Smoothie, chicken breast, fish, tofu, eggs, Greek or Icelandic yogurt, cottage cheese, or healthy fat such as nuts, seeds, olives, or avocado.
2- Not Watching Fruit
Fruits are loaded with disease-fighting phytonutrients and antioxidants on top of their high vitamin and mineral content. However, I often see people overdo fruit when trying to eat more healthfully.
Fruit is sweet, juicy, and delicious and loved by most poeple. That sweet taste comes from its high sugar content. There is a common misconception that natural sugar doesn’t impact weight, but it does. The body breaks it down and treats it like any other carb or sugar.
For example, one apple contains approximately 19g of sugar. The goal is 8-10 servings daily of fruits and vegetables to significantly reduce cancer risk and promote overall health and healthy weight. I see people very quickly get in those servings of fruit but not so many vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables (starchy vegetables are corn, potatoes, winter squash, and peas) should be the bulk of your fruit and vegetable intake. Think five servings of vegetables and three servings of fruit.
I rarely see people meeting their daily fluid goals. Dehydration can lead to lethargy, slow metabolism, constipation, headaches, water retention, and increased appetite. Fluid goals are half your body weight in ounces. This can include your Designer Protein shakes and smoothies, so keep it up!
4- Addressing Sleep
Poor sleep quality damages your immune system, mental health, and body weight. Anything less than 6 hours of sleep can contribute to increased refined carbohydrate cravings (think chips, cookies, muffins) and increase ghrelin, your hunger hormone. Your body is screaming for energy to keep it going through the day.
Pay attention to your sleep hygiene. Limit your screen time before bed, turn off distractions, and keep a regular sleep routine.
5- Not Food Journaling
People who food journal lose twice as much weight. I’ve seen this in action. My clients that have lost weight and kept off that 50 to 100lbs food journaled to get there. It can be annoying for most people, but it is worth your time and effort. Your food journal doesn’t have to be a perfect spreadsheet of numbers. The minimum is just to write down what you ate. It’s as simple as that. This creates mindfulness and limits mindless eating, which is key to weight loss.
Getting into a routine with your daily diet can simplify your food journaling. Picking a Designer Wellness shake you enjoy in the morning, and Protein Smoothie as a snack makes it mindless to get through a good portion of your day and food journal.
6- Not Getting in Enough Protein
Protein is key to helping our bodies build and repair themselves, balance blood sugars, sustain energy, and manage hunger hormones. Your protein needs vary by weight and goals, ranging from .8-1.2 g per kg (1lb =2.2 kilograms). It’s essential to spread this out evenly between meals and snacks, and we absorb nutrients better when it is spread throughout the day.
For example, suppose your protein goal is 90g per day, and you eat three meals. In that case, you could have 24 g from your protein shake with Designer Egg in the morning, 30g of protein at lunch with your Protein Smoothie and a chicken salad with two ounces of chicken, and 36 g of protein with a tofu stir fry at night.
7- Overdoing it on Fat
There are many healthy fats, including avocados, nuts,olives, and seeds. These foods provide a ton of micronutrients and healthy fats to make every cell structure in your body. Just because something is healthy doesn’t mean we can eat as much as we want. Mindless eating of nuts and seeds is one of the top mistakes I see when it comes to a healthy weight. Each handful of nuts or seeds is about 140-200 calories. Four mindless handfuls a day can add up to 800 calories and prevent people from meeting their goals. If you love nuts and seeds, by all means, have that much but mindfully include them in your diet. Otherwise, keep to a handful a day as recommended in the Mediterranean diet,
8- Not Addressing Stress
Stress will straight-up kill you and cause weight gain. High levels of cortisol associated with stress create cravings for fatty foods and carbs. Our body wants these foods to fuel itself to run away from the stressor. Unfortunately, for many of us, our stressors are not something we can run away from. To keep a healthy weight and body, it is imperative to learn how to manage stress in a healthy matter. If you're struggling with stress management, I recommend talking with a professional therapist, trying the Calm app, journaling, and trying Designer Wellness Mood Gummies and Stress Gummies.
Read more about how to manage stress through diet on our blog here.
9- Cheat Days
Nothing makes my skin crawl more than hearing about cheat days. With this mentality, you can easily outdo a week's worth of work in one day. It’s better to work on building a healthy relationship with food and the days you may be eating more. They will happen. They happen to everyone. You want to think about balancing your higher-calorie day with lighter days. It’s not cheating!! It’s living your life. Take the “cheat” off the table. Learn to enjoy what you want without gorging yourself but enjoying yourself. Building a healthy relationship with food takes practice, but it’s worth it.
10- Overdoing Sugar-Free Foods
Sugar-free does not always mean calorie-free and does not always mean carb-free. People will often choose sugar-free desserts thinking they are making a better choice, but not necessarily. People may eat more, hoping to get the same taste satisfaction. Plus, these artificial sweeteners tend to be much sweeter than natural sugar and mess with your taste buds, increasing your tolerance to sweet and consumption of sweet. Artificial sweeteners can also mess with the gut microbiome, contributing to depression and weight gain.
Designer Protein uses stevia in our products, providing a slight natural sweetness that is not artificial or overpowering.
The bottom line is to create mindfulness in how you eat and live your life. Eating healthfully and managing weight can work with every lifestyle as long as you watch the key points above. Skip the fad diets and focus on making them a lifestyle. We at Designer Wellness are here to support you with our full line of lean protein powders, smoothies, and gummies to support you on your health journey.
By Ginger Cochran, MS, RDN, CDCES, CEP-ACSM