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Weight loss is an extremely personal journey. The thought of losing inches from the waistline may be a fitness goal for some while others may do it for the various health benefits that come with it. Whatever your reasons might be, as human beings we have an incessant desire for instant gratification. We want to see the difference and we want to see it fast. This thought process, however, may prove counterproductive when it comes to losing weight.

If you have been trying to lose those extra kilos or inches for a while and can't notice the results yet, chances are you have taken up misguided advice. Here are some common mistakes people make while trying to shed weight:

  1. What not to do for weightloss
  2. Takeaways for common weight loss mistakes

Quick fixes for losing weight and sustaining your ideal weight usually don't work. Anything that sounds too easy—like popping a diet pill—is probably bad for you. Punishing your body by crash dieting or exercising too much could backfire. There's a whole list of things that don't work when it comes to weight loss. The following are some common mistakes we make, but can fix easily:

Setting your weight loss goal too high or too low

Researchers have reported that overweight and obese women who expected to lose the most weight were the least likely to stick with a fitness programme beyond six to 12 months.

Having a fixed goal can serve as a motivator and reminder of why you are on a journey towards weight loss. However, having unrealistic expectations can result in disappointment and guilt.

The purpose of losing weight is to feel good about your body and to be healthy. Setting a goal that is too drastic could prove counterproductive, as it could end up demotivating you. It is very important to have a realistic goal to improve your chances for success.

Conversely, having a goal that's too low could also demotivate you rather than pushing you to work hard—this could be because the health gains you get from losing this small amount of weight could be too minuscule for you to notice.

Instead, try to set a goal that seems just a little bit unattainable so that you stay motivated and stick with the programme. And when you do achieve your set milestone, set the next one a little lower and so on till you are at your ideal weight.

Eating too much diet food

“Diet food” or “low fat” food is often considered a healthy choice. This is a big misconception. These are processed foods and sometimes contain whopping amounts of empty calories. To actually lose weight, one needs to eat clean. A good way to begin doing this is to ditch processed food items and choose whole foods and nutritious vegetables which are both filling and healthy.

Focus on diet, forget exercise

It is a common notion that only controlling one’s diet is going to do the trick. While a healthy diet is crucial to achieving your target weight and maintaining it, it is equally important to exercise in order to maintain your metabolic rate. It also helps in boosting fat loss by preventing the loss of lean mass. This helps in maintaining the weight for a longer period of time.  If you don't exercise at all while restricting calories, you're likely to lose more muscle mass than fat.

Eating too few calories or crash dieting

In order to lose weight, a calorie deficit needs to be created. This is done by burning more calories than you consume. Research has shown that the calorie deficit requirement differs from person to person. It is important to note that eating too few calories has been proven to slow down the rate of metabolism in the body. This not only makes it difficult to reduce weight but also makes it very easy to gain it back again. While the deficit differs from body type to body type, everyone must consume a minimum of 1000 calories per day to prevent their metabolism from slowing down.

Not snacking, not eating for long intervals

There is no denying that mindless bingeing is the worst form of calories intake. Even more so because it goes unnoticed. A few bits here and a few bits there are enough to put your body in a calorie surplus—especially with well-loved snacks like chips, namkeens and pretzels. While it is important to be mindful of your snacking, not snacking at all can have the exact same effect on the body. Studies show that people who eat several small meals and (healthy) snacks a day are more likely to control their hunger pangs and, by extension, lose weight. Having high protein, healthy snacks such as nuts and seeds can help in keeping your metabolism in high gear.

Not having enough water, not taking enough fiber

Another common blunder is substituting water for other beverages and drinks. While many people cut out alcohol and carbonated drinks from their diet, other drinks that are conventionally considered healthy such as coffee or fruit juice may also contain lots of sugar. Box juices available in the market may contain as much sugar as cola.

Not drinking enough water is one of the most common mistakes that people make on their journey to lose weight. Dehydration and thirst can sometimes be confused with hunger by the body. Therefore, having enough water not only helps in managing one’s appetite but also prevents the metabolism from becoming sluggish.

However, this does not mean that you resort to drinking your greens. Fibre is the best tool to drive fat loss. Juicing fruits and vegetables removes their fibre content. On top of that, consuming juices is not as filling as eating the fruit/vegetable whole. This could increase your calorie intake. It is crucial to have enough water and fibre.

Obsessing over the weighing scale

Chances are you feel that you have been doing all the things stated above and are still not losing weight fast enough. However, this is no reason to get disheartened. The weight of the human body can keep fluctuating multiple times, even during the course of a single day. This depends on various factors like the amount of fluid or food that you have just consumed. In fact, hormonal changes like increased levels of estrogen can lead to bloating and water retention, which reflects on the weighing scale. The truth of the matter is that the number on the weighing scale is only one measure of the change in weight. Even if the scale doesn’t change much, measuring with a tape can reveal if you are actually losing any inches.

The reason people embark on this journey is to feel good about themselves. The key to losing weight is eating healthy and exercising. It is important to have fun with your diet and allow yourself the liberty of enjoying the guilty pleasures of gourmet dining once in a while, so as to shock the metabolic rate. Portion control and keeping yourself hydrated go a long way in boosting the metabolism, thereby aiding in fat loss.

References

  1. Hill, A. (2004). Does dieting make you fat? British Journal of Nutrition, 92(S1), S15-S18
  2. Armitage, C.J. and Conner, M. (1999), Distinguishing Perceptions of Control From Self‐Efficacy: Predicting Consumption of a Low‐Fat Diet Using the Theory of Planned Behavior Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 29: 72-90.
  3. Loche S, Cappa M, Ghizzoni L, Maghnie M, Savage MO (eds): Role of Sleep and Sleep Loss in Hormonal Release and Metabolism Pediatric Neuroendocrinology. Endocr Dev. Basel, Karger, 2010, vol 17, pp 11–21
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