Numerous weight loss “do’s” have probably been mentioned, but what about weight loss “don’ts”? Weight loss don’ts are just as important to focus on as weight loss do’s if you’re serious about losing weight because they can seriously jeopardise your efforts!
Almost 70% of the American population is considered to be overweight or obese. Additionally, 1 out of every 3 American children are overweight or obese.
Sadly, this generation is the first in history that is expected to die younger than their parents.
The thing is, we can change this. We just need to make the appropriate lifestyle changes. “Eat healthy and exercise is the classic advice” but while it’s true, it’s not always that easy. Losing weight is damn hard!
1. Not Having A Big Enough Motivator
Like most goals in life, it’s important to have a “why” that’s bigger than your “why not” if you want to be successful at losing weight. This will help to ensure that your excuses don’t stop you from getting in that early morning gym session or evening run.
Money has been proven to be a simple yet powerful and effective motivator. Think about it – it’s what makes you keep on showing up to work each day even if you’d rather just stay in bed!
2. Skipping breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.
Eating a healthy, nutritious breakfast will help to restore our glucose levels, provide energy for the day, and reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes and heart disease.
In addition to this, a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that people who skip breakfast are more likely to be obese.
However, eating breakfast won’t provide any of these health benefits if it’s full of junky carbs and trans-fats, and loaded with sugar. (Doughnuts, unfortunately, fall under this category.)
3. Weekend bingeing
A study in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that the typical non-chain restaurant meal contained 1205 calories.
American, Italian and Chinese cuisine fared even worse, with the average meal containing 1495 calories.
The amount of calories you need to consume varies based on age, gender, activity level and weight-related goals. However, it’s generally recommended that the average female consume about 2000 calories to maintain weight and 1500 calories if weight-loss is the goal.
A 1495 calorie meal leaves just 5 calories for the entire day, which is neither healthy, nor realistic.
4. Drinking your calories
In a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was reported that the energy (i.e.) calorie intake from beverages “represents 21% of of total daily energy intake in the general American population.”
What exactly does this mean?
This means that 21% of the calories that you’re consuming every day are coming not from the food you’re eating, but the drinks you’re consuming.
And a large amount of this is from artificially sweetened beverages like soda, fruit juices, energy drinks, and alcohol.
These types of drinks contain no nutrients and provide next-to-no satiety, meaning that you are left feeling hungry, despite consuming a large amount of calories.
So, what should your beverage of choice be?
5. Not getting enough sleep
But a 2013 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours sleep, with the average amount of shut-eye being just 6.8 hours.
In addition to impaired cognitive function, a lack of sleep can also contribute to weight gain.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when participants were sleep-deprived, they consumed more calories (but expended the same amount) than when they received 9 hours of sleep.
A lack of sleep can also slow digestive function and increase cortisol levels, which can lead to overeating.
Here are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep:
- Set a reasonable time to go to bed, and stick to it
- Unplug – don’t lay in bed on your iPhone or laptop
- Meditate – meditation has proven relaxation benefits and a wonderful way to wind down before bed
- Set the room temperature to 60-67 degrees, which is considered optimal for sleeping
- Make sure you have a good, supportive mattress and pillow
If you’re unsure of the quality of your sleep, then I recommend investing in a smartwatch with a sleep tracker like this Fitbit one or like this Apple one, which monitor how long and how well you sleep.
6. Going “fat-free”
Fat has long been considered the devil when it comes to weight loss. Walk down any aisle in the grocery store and you’ll see “fat-free” advertised on everything from milk to mayonnaise.
But not all fats are created equal. While you definitely want to be avoiding hydrogenated fats, other fats like monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat are both beneficial to overall health and can contribute to weight loss. Healthy saturated fats such as what’s found in coconut oil is also beneficial for weight loss.
Monounsaturated fats help to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of coronary heart disease while the polyunsaturated fats found in avocado’s contains essential omega-3 fatty acids, and may lower your risk of heart disease and Type-2 diabetes.
And because fat is highly satiating, it keeps you feeling full for longer, making you less likely to snack on empty calories.
7. Too much cardio, not enough weight-training
Regular cardio is important for weight-loss and essential for building a healthy heart, lungs, and cardiovascular system. Cardio also helps to boost your metabolism, which aids in weight loss.
But there can be too much of a good thing. Spending hours and hours sweating it out on the treadmill does not a lean, fat-burning body make.
In fact, overdoing it on the cardio can actually have the opposite effect. Too much cardio can cause your body to start using your lean muscle mass as a source of fuel (NOT a good thing!)
Less lean muscle mass = lower metabolism and less fat burning.
It’s incredibly important to not only maintain the lean muscle mass that you have, but to also increase your lean muscle mass.
This can be done by making sure you don’t overdo it on the cardio and by incorporating weight-training in to your exercise regime.
Regular weight training will help to build lean muscle mass which means that your calorie burning will increase, even when you’re not exercising.
A personal trainer can help you with setting up a weight training routine, but if that’s not in your budget, check out Aaptiv. I love Aaptiv because it’s like having your own personal trainer with you 24/7, at a fraction of the cost. There are so many excellent workouts, so whether you’re into weights, yoga, running, cycling, elliptical etc., then Aaptiv will likely have an awesome routine!
8. Avoiding carbs
There’s a common belief that carbs are the devil when it comes to weight loss. This is simply untrue.
Carbohydrates are not the devil – simple, “junky” carbohydrates are the devil.
Our bodies need carbohydrates to function properly – they’re the bodies main source of fuel. The key is to make sure you don’t overeat carbohydrates and that the carbs you do eat are the right kind, not the junky kind.
There are two types of carbohydrates:
- Simple carbohydrates are sugars, and they’re the type you want to avoid.
Simple carbs are low in fiber and rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream which can causes major spikes in blood sugar levels.
Some examples of simple carbohydrates that you should avoid are candy, refined white bread, pasta, and white rice, soda and sugar.
- Complex carbohydrates are “good carbs” – they type you want to eat more of.
Unlike simple or “junky” carbs, complex carbohydrates contain fiber and they take longer for the body to break down. Complex carbs provide more sustained energy for the body and don’t cause rapid spikes in blood sugar.
9. Starving yourself
One of the absolute worst things you can do to lose weight is starve yourself.
When you drastically reduce the amount of food you eat, you’re missing out on vital nutrients that your body needs to function optimally.
Females need a minimum of 1200 calories/day and males need 1500 calories/day just to function (that means breathe, pump blood around your body, repair cells, etc.)
Anything below this seriously jeopardizes your health, and long-term, can cause organ failure and even death.
Starving yourself will also put your body into starvation mode, which means that the body stores fat and starts breaking down muscle for fuel. This is the exact opposite of what you want your body to be doing.
And while you may initially lose a couple of pounds, you will immediately gain them back when you start eating again.
In a nutshell, starving yourself is an incredibly bad idea.
Instead, eat a diet consisting of fresh, whole foods, with an abundance of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein – food that fuels your body.
10. Eating hidden sugar
Sugar is one of those nasty guys that is lurking around every corner, using a variety of different aliases –
You’re probably doing a great job at avoiding the obvious sugar-bombs, like cakes, candy bars, pop-tarts, etc. But what you might not realize is that almost every processed, pre-packaged food you buy probably has added sugar in it.
Some common foods that contain high-levels of hidden sugar are:
- Non-fat fruit yoghurt
- Condiments like BBQ sauce and ketchup
- Salad dressing
- Granola bars
- Pasta sauce
- Fruit juice
- Flavored coffee drinks (the type you buy at Starbucks)
Here are some healthier alternatives to those sugar-bombs:
- Greek yoghurt sweetened with fresh berries
- Olive oil, avocado oil
- Fruit (contains natural sugars, but also contains fiber)
- Sugar-free 100% whole grain bread
- Homemade pasta sauce
- Water, flavored with berries, lime, lemon, cucumber or mint
- Black coffee or herbal tea
11. Not drinking enough water
Our bodies are composed of 60% water – almost every single cell in the human body requires water to function.
Additionally, water contains exactly zero calories.
By replacing one Starbucks frappuccino with a bottle of water, you’ll save around 480 calories and avoid 70 grams of sugar (which is almost THREE DAYS worth of the recommended daily sugar intake for a female.)
Drinking water flushes toxins from your body, can help to boost your metabolism, increase your energy output (cold water is especially good for this) and help to transport nutrients around your body.