We all (understandably!) want something quick, easy, and painless, but if the diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Expecting results without a long-term lifestyle plan is unrealistic and destined for failure.
Despite your best intentions, these diet tricks might actually be sabotaging your hard work to lose some weight.
1. Skipping meals
Most people assume that if you skip a meal you'll eat fewer calories for the whole day. But going longer periods of time without any food puts you in a danger zone of being really hungry, and you can make poor choices or eat more than planned.
2. Drinking diet soda
Diet soda causes conflict in the body; you get the perception of sweet taste without the energy that typically accompanies it. In other words, your body is primed to expect calories from the sweet taste, but then receives zero, sending you straight to the snack stash.
Diet soda might also act as an unwarranted get-out-of-jail-free card for some people. If you said, 'I'm going to have a double cheeseburger with onion rings because I'm drinking a diet soda,' that's not helping you.
3. Eating fat-free foods
An upsetting secret of fat-free and low-fat foods: manufacturers often up the sugar count to make up for the lack of fat-based flavor. In a recent study, people who ate low- or non-fat dairy actually ate more carbs throughout the day than people who stuck to whole-fat dairy. Just stick to the "good" fats: poly and monounsaturated ones in fish, olive oil, and avocado, to name a few.
4. Taking "miracle" pills
Yes, there are FDA-approved weight-loss pills to help you along a weight-loss journey, but that doesn't mean you sit back and enjoy the ride. It seems that people pop a diet pill and suddenly feel less pressure to hit the gym (according to one new study, this may be the result of how pills are marketed to us, but that's another story), and not rely on a pill to do the work for you. Also, if you read the drug information very carefully, you'll notice that they're meant to be taken in conjunction with exercise and a healthy-eating plan—so they're not magical after all.
5. Counting calories
The total number of calories you take in might not be as important as the type of calories. Researchers argue this is because calories from simple carbs like sugar and white bread spike blood sugar levels, which in turn raise insulin. Then, the resulting crash leaves you searching for more carbs, reinforcing a pattern of overeating. People who count calories might also be tempted to avoid foods with more fat to cut calories, but we already know that going fat-free won't do you any favors (see above).
However, there is good news: Counting calories can be a helpful tactic when eating at a restaurant. When we dine out, meals are often very high in calories, so if you have a calorie budget, you won't get so overwhelmed. A budget might mean deciding to consume 500 calories or less during a Friday night out with friends.
6. Cutting carbs
People still think carbs are the enemy, but they're really not. Cutting out carbs can lead to shedding some water weight quickly, so dieters get hooked when they see fast progress, but it can backfire—reincorporating carbs back into the diet can mean gaining back the weight. Carbs are the best source of energy for the brain and body. Choose whole grains and watch the portions. Whole grains boast more filling fiber, which can aid digestion, too. And don't forget: veggies, fruit, and even dairy contain carbs, and you wouldn't want to cut all those out.
7. Cheat days
It feels really great to loosen the diet rules come Friday night, but if it's tough to get back on track on Saturday, you could be doing more harm than good. If there's something you want, think about three things: Am I going to eat this less often, in smaller portions, or choose a healthier option? This will help you not feel deprived and not overeat what you enjoy. And rather than going wild one day of the week, consider the 80/20 rule instead. Follow a healthy way of eating 80% of the time, and allow for indulgences 20% of the time.
8. Weighing yourself
While experts recommend checking your progress from time to time, becoming too obsessed with the number on the scale is a slippery slope. You probably won't see enormous variations day to dayu. A safe weight loss pace is about one to two pounds a week, so for some people, weekly weigh-ins might offer insight into whether they're on track. Just try not to compare your results to anyone else's. You have to realize that you're an individual, and everybody loses weight differently. You're going at your own pace.
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