Conventional weight loss wisdom will have you believe that regular exercise and a healthy diet is the key to losing weight. But did you know that simple lifestyle mistakes could derail your best plans? And no matter how expensive are the health foods you buy, or the superfoods you gorge on, you won’t achieve your goals unless you address these 10 common mistakes:
You overeat healthy foods
The key to optimal fitness or health is eating nutrient-dense foods in the right proportion. “Healthy foods also contain calories, and excess calories get stored as fat. The idea is to eat the right quantities of carbohydrates, lean protein and fats. Excess of any of these macronutrients is stored as fat in the body,” says nutritionist Karishma Chawla. Similarly, leaving out certain food groups also leads to imbalance in nutrition, which can result in low-energy levels, fatigue and lowering of the body’s immunity.
Similarly, don’t be misled by labels. “The gimmick of a “fat-free” treat might be enough to cause you to unintentionally overeat and gain weight. Read labels carefully. Even if the label says low-fat or fat-free, such foods may be high in sugar and other empty calories. Be it a fruit or chocolate, you’ve to watch your portion size,” says Amreen Sheikh, dietician, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai Central.
Overeating “healthy” foods may also prove counterproductive and make you unwell. “Excess of any food will lead to bloating, acidity and lethargy almost immediately and obesity (long term effect),” says nutritionist and fitness consultant Munmun Ganeriwal.
You skip breakfast often
Skipping breakfast is a major no-no, especially if you want to lose weight. “A healthy breakfast comprises good carbohydrates and protein to kickstart the metabolism, thus keeping the body into fat-burning mode throughout the day. Skipping it results in lowering BMR and works against the goal,” says Chawla.
It may also make you overeat later. Ganeriwal points out such people usually get hungry later on and end up snacking on high-fat, high-sugar foods later in the day. “Skipping breakfast in the morning will make you overeat later throughout the day,” she says.
You don’t monitor your portions
The key to weight loss is to eat the right kind of foods in the right quantity. “Excess of any macronutrient can lead to fat gain, high sugar levels or even malnutrition,” says Chawla.
Ganeriwal advises her clients to eat mindfully to avoid overeating. “If you eat mindfully, you are likely to avoid overeating as you are aware of the quantity of food you are putting in your month. In turn, this means you are likely to understand when you are satiated,” says Ganeriwal.
You are not sleeping enough
Sheikh says that sleeping too little prompts people to eat bigger portions of food, increasing weight gain. “Lack of sleep leads to increased cravings for energy-dense, high-carbohydrate foods. A sleepy brain appears to crave junk food while also lacking the ability to avoid eating it. Poor sleep can also affect digestion and cause gastric issues like IBS,” says Sheikh.
Sleep also affects your hunger-regulating hormones making you overeat. “Ghrelin is the hormone that stimulates appetite, while leptin decreases it. Leptin signals to the brain that you have eaten enough. When the body is sleep-deprived, the level of ghrelin spikes, and levels of leptin falls leading to an increase in hunger. Due to leptin insensitivity, one is also not able to perceive fullness or satiety and hence, tends to overeat,” Ganeriwal says.
You don’t have a supportive partner
While sticking to a diet may not be easy, the task becomes tougher if you need to prepare your meals separately or can’t go for family outings leaving your partner fuming. On the other hand, having a supportive partner will encourage you to stick to a diet for a longer time, says Sheikh.
You consume soft drinks
A can of soft drinks can play havoc with your diet goals. “Soft drinks are high in sugar and provide empty calories which lead to weight gain,” says Sheikh. Ganeriwal points out that sugar-loaded beverages are also dehydrating and make you feel bloated and heavy.
You eat a lot of condiments and toppings
Remember that condiments and toppings are there to just add flavour to the food, and are not the real deal. Ganeriwal says that the key is to opt for spices and condiments like pepper, haldi and cinnamon. “They are immunity boosting, improve digestion and increase metabolic rate of the body. As a result, it also accelerates fat loss,” she says.
You only do cardio exercises
An ideal fitness routine needs to comprise cardio, weight training and flexibility training, says Chawla. “Weight training helps to put the body in a 24-hour calorie burn, and cardio helps during the duration of the exercise. Hence, it is imperative to do both with some stretches to increase the range of motion and prevent injuries,” she says.
Sheikh says that while cardio exercises improve cardiovascular endurance and burn calories, it does so to a limited extent and may not help to lose fat. “Opt for a combination of resistance training, weight training, strength training, functional exercises and cardio,” says Sheikh.
You dine out a lot
Dining out can be quite a minefield, what with tons of options and hidden calories. Chawla gives some pointers: “Avoid the bread basket. Ensure you first order something rich in fibre. Have clear soups with no starch and salads without dressing. Then add protein and lastly a serving of carbs (choose whole grains preferably). Keep a tab on the number of meals eaten out in a week.”