8 Common Mistakes When Trying to Lose Weight

Losing weight is not easy even when you feel motivated. There are times when you think you’re making good eating decisions, but it isn’t translating into lost pounds. It is possible that you are taking advice that is either outdated or just plain bad. As a result, you aren’t reaching your goals. Here are 10 reasons why you aren’t shedding the pounds no matter how hard you try.

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1. Focusing solely on the scale

Stepping on the scale is the most obvious way to check your progress, but it doesn’t tell the whole picture. There are several things to take into account when measuring your weight, including the amount of food in your system, fluid fluctuations and even hormonal changes that affect water retention. It’s also possible that while you’re losing fat, you’re gaining muscle. So if you step on the scale and discover that you’ve actually gained a pound or two even after you feel you’ve made progress, don’t despair! Measuring your waist and noting that your clothes are fitting much looser are also positive signs, no matter what the scale says.

2. Eating too many or too few calories

In order to lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you consume, also known as a calorie deficit. For a long time it was believed that a weekly deficit of 3,500 calories would translate to 1 lb of fat loss. However, more recent studies indicate that this number varies from individual to individual.

You might feel like you’ve significantly reduced the number of calories you’ve consumed, but people tend to underestimate this. For instance, folks will eat salmon and nuts because they are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fats, but they also contain a lot of calories when eaten in large portions. So practicing portion control is important.

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3. Not getting enough protein

There are so many reasons why eating protein is important when losing weight: it helps you maintain or increase your metabolic rate; it simultaneously increases the feeling of fullness while curbing your appetite; it lowers the amount of weight you might eventually gain, and it prevents you from losing too much muscle even as you lose fat. Although meat and dairy are the first types of foods that come to mind when you think about protein, seeds, beans, legumes and grains such as quinoa also provide good sources of protein at low costs.

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4. Not getting enough fiber

Like with the case of protein, if you aren’t eating enough fiber, you will find it much more difficult to lose weight. Soluble fiber digests slowly, making you feel full for longer periods of time. Although all types of fiber contribute to weight loss, viscous fiber — found in such foods as beans, asparagus, oats, and brussels sprouts — is the best. Studies have found that people who aren’t on a diet can maintain a healthy weight and trim waist when eating viscous fiber.

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5. Either not exercising or overdoing it

When you lose weight, you’re also losing muscle mass, which you need if you want to maintain a healthy weight once you’ve reached your goals. By exercising, you can minimize muscle loss even as you burn fat while keeping your metabolism from slowing down. However, you don’t want to exercise too much. For one thing, extreme workouts aren’t something you will be able to sustain in the long run. Also, it can affect endocrine hormones, which are needed to regulate functions throughout your body. Modest exercise that includes cardio and lifting weights a few times per week is ideal because it is something you can make a regular part of your lifestyle.

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6. Having unrealistic expectations

Although setting weight loss goals can help keep you motivated, you want to keep things realistic. If your goal is to, say, lose 10% of your body weight, you should give yourself months to achieve this, not days or weeks. People who don’t reach their particular weight loss goals within a short time frame often become discouraged and quit. Losing too much weight can actually be an unhealthy thing. So instead, you should instead strive to lose one or two pounds a week maximum.

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7. Choosing reduced fat or “diet” foods

Eating reduced fat foods or processed, low-fat snacks might seem like a good idea, but they can actually make it more difficult to lose weight. For instance, the fat taken out of peanut butter is replaced with loads of sugar. After all, it still has to be edible to the consumer. Low-fat yogurt might seem like a great option too, except that it also contains added sugar. In addition, foods that are low in fat will only make you feel hungrier, and as a result you’ll make more trips to the fridge and kitchen pantry for snacks. Opt for foods that are low in fat but full of nutrients — such as fruits and vegetables — along with a handful of nuts for a snack and extra virgin olive oil for cooking.

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8. Overestimating how many calories you burn during exercise

There is a mistaken belief that exercise “supercharges” the metabolism. Although it does provide a bit of a boost, it’s not as significant as you might assume. In addition, studies show people who are overweight tend to overestimate how many calories they’re burning when exercising, often by a lot. There is also a tendency for people to think they are exercising more intensely than they actually are. So if you want to succeed, you need to understand how many calories you are actually burning and how intense your workouts are so that you can make proper adjustments.