1. Choosing juiced or dried fruits over fresh fruit
It happens… we all think that fruit juice or dried fruit is a healthy snack… and yes, it certainly is better than a chocolate or packet of chips. But is it better than fresh/whole fruits? Unfortunately not!
Fruit juice and dried fruits are lower in fiber and much higher in sugar. We need fiber in our diets for various reasons such as the fact that it decreases cholesterol, helps with constipation and can lower your risk for diabetes. But, in this case – more fiber will keep you fuller for longer… and when trying to lose weight that is crucial! I have found hunger to be one of the main reasons why patients cheat on their mealplans.
2. Not tracking your food intake (or only tracking calories)
I know, I know… a food diary is hard work!!! And yes, it is! But maybe just do it for a few days! You will be surprised by the amount of information you can obtain from yourself. You can do it the old school method – pen and paper! Or the more exciting method – MyFitnessPal or another app.
It is important to not only track your calories, but also macro-nutrients (carbs, fats & proteins). Different macro’s are important for different sports, goals and body types. You can even look at tracking fiber intake, your water consumption during the day, eating times and frequency of eating during the day.
3. Following a fad-diet or a diet your friend gave you or a diet that your favourite celebrity is following
Remember – if something seems to good to be true, it usually is!
Just because someone else got good results on a “diet” doesn’t mean you will get the same results. Maybe the “diet” was only the tip of the iceberg. What type of training did they do with it? Did they take any supplements (healthy or unhealthy)?
A “diet” or a mealplan (like I prefer to call it…) should take your own food preferences, activity levels, energy needs, goals, current weight and specific diagnosis into account.
4. Going vegan… (for the wrong reasons)
If you are going vegan, because you want to lose weight… maybe you should rethink it!
Vegans and vegetarians aren’t always skinny and/or healthy! It is important to make sure that you replace the meat or animal products with the correct alternative and not unhealthy fats and carbs. Going to a restaurant and ordering a plate of slapchips might be “vegan” but not healthy… You should replace your meat with plant-based proteins such as beans and legums.
5. Go big or go home mentality
We have all been there… summer crept up on you! You don’t fit in the dress you want to wear at the end of the month or your holiday is around the corner. More often than not, it is very difficult to meet your unrealistic goals. Rather take small, more achievable steps towards a healthier you.
6. Not thinking before drinking
We all know the benefits of drinking enough water during the day. Being well hydrated can decrease hunger, increase the amount off calories your body is burning and also increase the amount of fat burned every day.
Not losing weight can be due to not drinking enough water, but might also be due to drinking things very high in sugar and calories. Be very careful that your drinks aren’t high in calories and sugar. Always read your food labels and make sure that you don’t fall for the “healthy marketing”. Not all “healthy drinks” are low in calories; such as PowerAid, Energade, Fruit Juice & vitamin waters.
Remember – Water is completely calorie free!!!!
7. Cutting out ALL carbs
Carbs are not from the devil… Try to focus on cutting out refined carbs, instead of cutting out all carbs. Refined carbs are baked goods, candy, white bread, chocolate, chips, fruit juice etc. But, you can have complex carbs (in the correct amounts). Complex carbs are quinoa, whole-wheat products, fruit with their skin and pips etc. Complex carbs are high in fiber and some of them contain quite a substantial amount of protein, such as lentils and chickpeas. These carbs can help to stabilize your blood sugar and will keep you fuller, for longer.
8. Not counting the extras
Sometimes we eat very healthy – or we think we do… because we order the healthy option on the menu when eating out. But – we finish the leftover food on the kids plate, or we finish the last bit of the milkshake. Or, when cooking and baking at home we don’t count the licks and the bites and the tastes.
9. Using activity trackers… (incorrectly)
We all have and love technology… I know I do! I don’t go anywhere without my Garmin Fenix around my arm. And I sometimes log my food on MyFitnessPal, just to make sure I am still on the right path.
I have seen that these apps can really help, but they could also really cause some problems in our weight-loss journeys.
I don’t feel that these apps should be used for determining your calorie needs, because these apps aren’t personalised enough. I feel that a registered dietitian should help with that, thereafter those numbers can be used in the apps for monitoring. These apps are known to over-estimate calories burned (especially if the calories were measure without some kind of Heart Rate monitor), and they also tend to under-estimate the calories we consume.
PS: Make sure that if you use MyFitnessPal or a similar app that you only log your exercise once. For instance, if you run 10km and burn 400kcal. You can log it manually. Your Garmin is synced with MyFitnessPal as well as Strava, and both these amps sync all data automatically – it could tell you that your 10km run burned 1200kcal – instead of the 400kcal.
10. Having cheat days
YES! You should have a cheat now and again… I totally agree. Having some of your favourite foods will decrease your cravings.
The problem comes in when you change the cheat meal, into a cheat day… which becomes a cheat week and ultimately a cheat year!
Try to have a 80/20 rule, or a 90/10 rule, depending on your goals. Try to eat healthy for at least 80 or 90% of the time and ENJOY the “cheats”…
11. Focusing on one number
Do not, I repeat… DO NOT weigh yourself on a normal bathroom scale when you are trying to lose weight. Go to your dietitian or personal trainer for a body composition test (Body fat etc).
If you can’t get your body composition tested, rather focus on measurements (that you can do at home, such as arm circumference, waist circumference and hip circumference). You can also feel how your clothes are feeling… and maybe a before and after picture isn’t a bad idea.
12. Not eating enough protein
I feel that protein is the most important macro-nutrient when losing weight… yet, we sometimes struggle to eat protein. Protein is also usually not our go-to snack option… We would rather opt for carbs, which isn’t always the best idea.
Eating enough protein will increase your metabolism, decrease cravings and it also has a big effect on the appetite-regulating hormones.
13. Not lifting weights…
Yes – I know you don’t want to bulk! I also don’t want to… But, doing some form of resistance training will help you to maintain your muscle mass and prevent metabolic slow-down.
14. Not doing cardio!
I know number 13 said that you should lift more weights – but… you should also do some cardio, such as running, cycling, swimming etc. Cardio burns more calories per minute than traditional weight training. Cardio increases your heart rate and can help to decrease the fat around your organs (called visceral fat).
15. Not sleeping enough, or sleeping too much
Sleep plays a big role in your physical and mental health. Not sleeping enough (6 – 8 hours) is a big risk factor for obesity. Focus on your quality sleep – rather read a book before going to bed than playing on your phone or watching TV (a decrease in screen time can make you sleep better).
Alcohol is an empty calorie – it means that it contributes to your daily calorie consumption, but you do not get any good nutrients for it.
The best is obviously to cut alcohol out completely, but let’s be fair… that ain’t happening #TrueStory
Try to opt for spirits mixed with zero-calorie or sugar free mixed. Try to avoid beer, wine and ciders.
Another problem I have seen is not only the calories in the alcohol, but also the bad food choices that comes with drinking… be on the lookout for that!
17. Rewarding workouts with food
Never ever reward yourself or a workout with food… (you are not a dog…). Rather buy yourself a new running shirt when you hit your target weight etc.
Also look out for “exercising food”… most people don’t need fancy recovery drinks, per-workouts or intra-workouts… these things are very high in calories and could thus actually be working against you.
18. Your type of job
Most of us have desk-jobs, and that sucks!! Sitting behind a desk for 8 – 10 hours a day is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight. (Why do you think your Garmin or FitBit is beeping after every hour…??). Try to find something that will remind you to move more often, maybe try to walk around in your office while you are talking on the phone.
19. Eating too little food or skipping meals
Yes – it is all about the energy balance! But, sometimes eating to little can also keep your body from losing weight. Your body has a natural instinct to protect itself and this could make it more difficult for you to lose weight.
20. Medical condition or medication
Sometimes it is just really difficult to lose weight, even if you are doing all 19 of the points above. It might not be a bad idea to go see a doctor for a check-up. Various diseases such as PCOS, thyroid and hormonal imbalances can make life difficult if you are trying to drop those last few kilograms.