If we look around these days, you will see that most people are following or are “on a diet”; like Keto, the Mediterranean, low carb diet, GM diet, Atkins, Intermittent Fasting, Flexitarian,Paleo, Whole 30 and many more.
Everyone wants to lose weight quickly and that can be a stressful process. We either consult a nutritionist or see what the latest trending diet on the internet or simply try and follow what the friend circle.
Very often you might notice that one ends up following one kind of a diet for a short period and then switch on to something else. There are two reasons why people do this:
1) They don’t see “immediate” results.
2) They choose a diet, cannot keep up and end up following another diet which is popular and has probably shown results on people you know.
Of course, a huge section also tends to follow the diet of their “favourite celebrity”.
All said and done, many of us still see that despite doing everything right (according to us), we still don’t end up getting/achieving the desired results. And that can be very frustrating.
Why does this happen? The answer here is rather simple, despite our belief; we aren’t doing it the right way.
This article is about the common mistakes we make while following a diet.
Before getting to the part of common mistakes we make while following a diet, one really needs to understand:
What is Diet and Nutrition?
The moment we hear the word “diet” we quickly associate it with some weight-loss regime.
However, “diet” refers to the food and drinks one person consumes every day and also the physical and mental circumstances connected to eating.
Nutrition-means simply eating a nutrient rich or nutritious diet which provides nourishment to the body at every level.
Having said that, now let’s take a look at some common mistakes we make while following a diet:
1. Focusing on the weighing scale.
It is but natural. The idea of following a diet is to lose “weight”, and here the weighing scale seems to be the most reliable option. Sadly, that’s not entirely right.
Before jumping on to the weighing scale, one needs to understand that weight can be influenced by various factors; like fluctuation of the fluids levels in our body or how much food ends up remaining in our system.
In women, it is seen that high levels of oestrogen leads to some amount of water retention which in turn influences the “weight” of the body.
In some cases, one might see that they are losing fat from the body (especially if their clothes have now become loose or fitting better) but the scale doesn’t show much change. Now, this is probably body retaining water and at the same time leaving you totally confused.
Here, one must rely of the measuring tape. Yes. The best way to make sure that you are “losing weight” is to measure the “inch loss” instead of “weight loss”.
2. Dieting: Eating too many or too little calories.
Thisis the most common mistake we make while following a diet to lose weight.
Weight loss can simply be explained as calories in and calories out; which means one must try and expend the number of calories one consumes; and this is not that easy. So, if an average person consumes 1200-1500 calories, you really need to workout and expend those calories and despite you heavy workout routines, one might not be able to burn out all the calories.
The key here is to create a “calorie deficit”.
Now, this deficit varies from person to person. One might think that they are “consuming healthy food” but might fail to realise or check the calorific value of “that healthy food”. Simply put, even though you think you are eating healthy, the food you are consuming could be high in calories.
Now, lets look at the opposite. When we think of “weight loss” the word “dieting” comes to mind and in this case ‘dieting’ means eating less. Totally detrimental or let’s say counterproductive.
One might think; “isn’t eating less means creating a calorie deficit?”
Eating less leads to loss of muscles and slows down the body metabolism. It can also make you feel unsatiated and there is a huge risk of binge eating if one decides to diet by eating less.
3. Not keeping in mind, the calories, you “drink”
Okay, here I am not talking about the carbonated drinks or sodas (obviously if you are on a particular diet you know that this is a strict no) but the other drinks like fruit juices, detoxifying blends that mostly are made up of fruits and certain veggies. But we somehow do not take that into consideration. Even though they are healthy, they are also high in calories. Let us not forget the lattes and teas with cream and sugar or sugar free substitutes.
4. Looking for a quick fix.
Who doesn’t want a quick fix when it comes to weight loss! Most of these fad diets might give some great results. However nice it sounds; quick and rapid weight loss is a very short-term thing and tends to be ineffective as well as unhealthy in the long term.
The best way to lose weight is to aim at losing up to 2 pounds a week which is a safe and healthy way to lose weight. This not only encourages healthy long-term eating habits but keeps binge eating at bay.
5. Failing to keep a track of your snacks.
Thanks to the internet and the nutritionists, most of us put in the effort to track the calorie intake during our meals. But, what about those nibbles in between? The mindless munching like a small piece of a cake, or a small bite of an ice cream, or a couple of fries and chips.
Yes, they also count. Sounds too much? In that case, you might want to keep a tracker on your smartphone or notebook to keep track of these little bites and nibbles.
Occasionally won’t make that much of a difference, but if it is a daily thing then yes, you need to keep a track of your snacks.
Instead of not snacking at all, you could opt for “thoughtful snacking” like consuming nuts which revs up your metabolism, especially if they are protein-rich like a variety of nuts.
6. Overdoing Low Fat
Almost everyone falls prey to this concept. While on certain diets, low fat plays an important role. But what we tend to forget, or over-look is that “low fat” does not mean “low calorie”.
The moment we hear low fat, we help ourselves with more than one serving. If the nutritional label isn’t available, it is advisable to stick to a single, small serving.
7. Exercising too much or not exercising at all.
Most of the times, it is seen that people tend to exercise too much. Now, this option is mostly unsustainable, and people find it difficult to stick to it. And obviously, it is stressful. Over exercising might impair the production of “adrenal hormones” which regulate stress levels or response. So, too much of exercise is neither healthy nor effective.
Au contraire, if you decide to only restrict your diet and not exercise, the body metabolism slows down and you also experience loss of muscle mass.
Here, it is best advised that you set up a workout regime and at times change it a bit to keep boredom at bay. This must include lifting weights as well. Lifting weights is known to boost metabolism and increase fat loss.
The best strategy is to combine a bit of cardio and weightlifting.
8. Choosing the “wrong diet food”.
Another grave and common mistake we make while following a diet.
Even though one might feel that choosing “diet foods” is a good option, mostly it tends to have the opposite effect.
Most of the diet foods add a lot of sugar or other forms of sweeteners to improve their taste. Let’s take for example, a fruit flavoured yogurt which tends to contain high amounts of sugar. But the only thing we tend to look at is “yogurt” and it is a healthy dietary option.
9. Not eating enough protein and fibre
If you are trying to lose weight, then make sure that you get enough protein. It is seen that by consuming 0.8gm protein per lb improves body composition and helps control appetite.
At the same time, fibre too plays a vital role during the weight loss process. Fibre tends to retain water and makes you feel fuller for longer period, thereby reducing hunger pangs or cravings. Some researchers believe that doubling the daily fibre intake could help up to 130 fewer calories being absorbed.
10. Eating many meals even if you are not hungry.
Almost all of us have heard this- “instead of having big meals, have many smaller meals”. This has been the most traditional advice since years to prevent hunger and a drop in the metabolic rate.
Now, if you don’t keep a track of these smaller meals, you might end up consuming too many calories in a day and might still feel unsatiated.
Here, the best thing to do is eat “only when your hungry and keep a track of how much and what you eat”. Simple. And if you still find yourself feeling hungry then snack on some nuts and keep yourself well hydrated.
11. Not Checking labels
When you are on a shopping spree for ‘diet foods’, it is important that you check the nutritional composition and the ingredients at the back of the label. If you don’t do that, the idea of “diet food” might end up giving you a false sense of security and you might end up consuming more calories than you intended to.
12. Having unrealistic expectations
The idea of losing weight is exciting but you need to be aware that weight loss is not the same for everyone; it varies from person to person. Make sure to keep in mind your eating habits and know your body. Be aware of how your body responds to certain regimes.
Only then set goals, realistic goals. Make sure that these goals keep you motivated. Don’t set the bar too high and have unrealistic expectations as it might tire you or bog you down. Having realistic goals will improve your chances of getting the results or the kind of body you desire!