Skipping meals isn’t cutting the calories you think it is. Often people who skip whole meals, usually breakfast, end up eating more calories later on, regardless of how many they ‘saved’ by not eating. This is because your body gets extremely hungry and you will crave more food to fill that gap, rather than following natural fullness cues.
Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is necessary for the body to function properly. It also controls our moods and brain activity, so less sleep can often mean less critical thinking and increased cravings. When you’re tired your body will subconsciously reach for higher ‘energy’ foods, like sugar and carbs, or simply just more food in general, to try to help it get over its fatigue.
Not drinking enough water
Sometimes we’re not hungry, we’re just thirsty. Water makes a lot of things easier on the body, and exercise is an important one! When we feel hydrated, it’s easier for us to move more, and therefore burn more calories. A big gulp of water can also act as an appetite suppressant, as your belly feels slightly more full.
Eating too many salty foods
Sodium is the salt found in many foods, particularly processed junk foods. When our bodies have high levels of sodium, it causes the water in your body to be drawn to it, which can give you the appearance of looking puffy or bloated. Salt is also bad for the heart in high doses and should be limited in the diet.
Having too much saturated fat
Saturated fats are probably linked to the majority of diet related diseases. Saturated fats are directly linked to the LDL cholesterol levels, which is the bad cholesterol that causes issues within the body. Bad fats often stick to the most noticeable and dangerous parts of our body, like the belly.
Drinking your calories
A lot of people think a beverage won’t really have many calories, because it’s just a liquid and doesn’t tend to fill you up at all. You’d be surprised by the calories a lot of fast food places and drink manufacturers sneak into their products regardless. For example, a large serving of the Peanut Power Plus smoothie from Smoothie King has 1,170 calories – which is well over half your daily recommended allowance.
Having big portion sizes
This may just be a habit, but if you find yourself saying ‘but I don’t eat junk, just home cooked food’, you might need to look at the size of your plate. Food we cook at home should be portioned properly. A lot of people just use huge plates, or pile them higher, and end up eating 200 – 300 calories more than they should.
Not moving enough
Exercise is needed for physical and mental health in general, but it obviously also aids weight loss. Simply walking around the office or around the mall isn’t really enough exercise to warrant significant changes. People should aim to do around 7000 – 10,000 steps a day, and this way you’re working your body and burning calories at the same time.
Not focussing on fiber
Fiber is a necessary part of our diets, as it can help you stay fuller for way longer. Whilst there’s a lot of chatter about protein, and rightfully so, this key component often goes overlooked. Fiber takes up a lot of room in the stomach and helps with digestion; the more fiber you eat, the fuller you’ll feel. Add fiber slowly into your diet, though, because sudden fiber addition can cause stomach aches and bloating.
Eating late at night
We’re all guilty of the occasional midnight snack, or come home from a long day of traveling or partying to order a late-night takeout. However, regularly eating late at night could actually be squashing your weight loss attempts. At this point in the day, most of us are in bed or tied to the sofa, burning the least calories as we prepare for sleep, laying still for hours on end.
Relying on diet soda
Diet soda isn’t the magic calorie free drink we once thought it was. While you may consume 0 calories from your diet soda, the chemicals found in artificial sweeteners can actually make your body crave more food or ‘real sugar’. This could cause you to eat more calories in total, even if you had a regular soda instead!
Drinking excessive alcohol
Alcohol is full of calories, which not many people think of when they’re planning their big night out. We’ve all heard the term beer belly before! Beer is essentially just carbs, and this specific type of carb can’t be fully digested by the body, as alcohol is technically a poisonous substance. This means the calories from alcohol are more likely to be stored as body fat.
Not eating enough protein
Protein can actually keep you feeling fuller for longer than carbohydrates, usually coming in for less calories too. Protein is an essential nutrient for muscle development, as well as body repair. When you have a low protein diet, you’re more likely to have slower muscle growth, which could prevent your metabolism from speeding up.
Not including strength training in your exercise routine
Lifting weights, or even using your own body weight to work out, will have you seeing more results than just cardio alone. Strength training improves muscle growth and development, and muscles burn more calories than fat overall! So, the more you strengthen and grow your muscles, the faster you can make your metabolism, aiding weight loss long term.
Eating out too often
Going to your favorite restaurant occasionally is fine, but it shouldn’t be a habit to eat out multiple times a week. Even though a lot of chain restaurants have their meal calories included on the menu, that doesn’t mean they’re highly accurate. They won’t measure every ingredient out every time, so you may be getting a 100-200 calorie discrepancy on that ‘lighter option’ each visit!
Not managing stress
Stress is often an unavoidable part of our daily lives, but it can be managed with self help or therapy. When stress starts to affect other parts of our lives like sleep, work or lifestyle, that’s when your weight loss will start to suffer. Through stress, your craving for comforting junk foods often increases, whether that’s due to a lack of sleep or emotional eating, giving it room to become an often vicious cycle.
Setting too strict a diet
Setting yourself a 500 calorie allowance and cutting out every food group won’t help – it’ll just make you binge long term. Food is supposed to nourish and energize the body, so if you’re not eating anything, it can’t do anything but survive. Also a super strict diet is so hard to actually stick to, so you probably will end up quitting and reversing any progress.
Not tracking your food intake
Just guessing what’s in your food isn’t accurate enough. Counting calories isn’t always necessary, but it can be a helpful tool to discover how much you are actually eating and where to go from there. You’d be surprised by how many calories are in tiny servings of foods we use everyday, like olive oil or mayonnaise.
Ignoring nutritional labels
Choosing to be ignorant of what’s in your food will only hinder your progress. Reading nutrition labels doesn’t have to be scary or disappointing, as you can use this information to compare products from different brands and choose the best fit for you. You don’t have to cut out all the food you love, just try to find a healthier alternative.
Not having consistent healthy habits
Eating salad once a week won’t counteract all the junk you ate! Healthy habits need to be lifestyle changes in order for them to stick and be effective. A healthy diet should be something you always carry with you, and not just a quick fix to weight loss, as it won’t be maintained that way.
Trying out ‘trendy’ diets
Only eating eggs for a week, blending all your foods or fasting for three days straight… none of it works! Internet or celebrity diets are never ideal for successful weight loss. Diets shouldn’t be super harsh and temporary, as the progress can easily be reversed after you come off it. Trying to stick to a miserable diet will usually end with you giving up.
Eating too fast
You may not have much time on your lunch break, or you forgot you needed to be somewhere mid meal. Eating fast constantly will train your body into craving more food, as it doesn’t have time to process and enjoy the act of eating and feeling full. Chew your food slowly and enjoy your food.
Not eating enough whole foods
Whole grains are the better choice to refined carbs, as they have more fiber in and can aid in digestion. They also make you feel fuller for longer due to the fiber staying longer in the stomach. Some studies have linked whole grain consumption to the reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Eating too much processed food
Usually processed foods like red meat and fast food are higher in calories, fat and salt. These factors can lead to weight gain, as well as the body starting to crave more and more of these foods. Processed foods have lots of additives and artificial sweeteners that our bodies simply can’t digest.
Ignoring serving sizes
If the serving size looks tiny, it’s because it’s a calorie dense food. Serving sizes can help you track the amount of calories you consume, and it’s easy to do by using a kitchen scale. Ignoring these will just lead you to ‘overeat’ that particular food and can add unnecessary calories to your daily total.
Confusing ‘healthy’ for ‘low-calorie’
There are a lot of ‘healthy’ foods out there that are also high in calories. These foods are good for our health and body, but they should still be counted on your weight loss journey. For example, avocados are super healthy and great for you, but a whole large avocado can easily be over 300 calories.
Not being prepared
A lot of people don’t struggle with eating healthy food, just preparing it. Food prep can be boring, especially if you’re busy and can’t be bothered to cook after a long day. Being prepared however will prevent you from making poor choices, like ordering takeout or cooking a frozen pizza.
You use food as a reward
Food should be a neutral thing in your life, and it shouldn’t dictate how you treat yourself. Buying a treat now and then is okay, but if you only ever buy foods you enjoy because ‘you’ve been good’ you’re letting food control you and not the other way around. This can lead to emotional eating or binging long term.
Over estimating the calories you’re burning
Unfortunately, burning calories is a lot harder than we think. Unless you’re a long distance marathon runner, it’s actually hard to burn 100s of calories when exercising. Don’t use your burnt off calories as an excuse to eat more than planned, because a lot of fitness tech isn’t always accurate.
Not eating enough also won’t help you reach your goals faster. Under eating can lead to the body becoming fatigued and you won’t have the energy to exercise or do anything else. Under eating can also encourage yo-yo dieting, where you eat very little, then a ton, then very little again etc.
Having too much sugar
Too much sugar is bad, but we’ve been taught this since we were kids. Sugar can cause weight gain due to its naturally high calories, and often sugary foods are also fatty foods. Not only will it wreak havoc on your teeth, you can also put yourself at risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
You’re not enjoying your ‘healthy’ meals
If you don’t enjoy what you’re eating, you probably won’t stick to the healthy changes. Forcing yourself to eat the same things just because they’re ‘healthy’ will just leave you feeling like giving up. There’s lots of healthy recipes and ways to enjoy food that isn’t just plain chicken and broccoli, promise.
Setting yourself unrealistic goals
Telling yourself you’re going to drop 3 dress sizes in a month and wear a tiny bikini on vacation probably isn’t what you should be doing. When we set unrealistic expectations on ourselves, it can prevent us from continuing if we’re not seeing the progress we wanted. Don’t self sabotage by picturing yourself completely transformed.
You don’t have an exercise routine
Exercise needs to be regular for it to be effective. Going for a walk twice a week and the gym a handful of times a month isn’t going to get you to the place you want to be. Set yourself realistic exercise plans that fit in your schedule and needs, and add more if you want to.
Not using veggies to bulk out meals
Vegetables can be your best friend, especially if you have a big appetite. Adding vegetables to all your meals will not only add great nutrients to your diet, but they fill you up. Because they are low in calories, you can eat a whole lot of them without adding onto your daily calories total.
Getting all your energy from caffeine
Caffeine is included in many people’s day, but don’t let it be your main source of energy. Relying on caffeine to keep you going isn’t a healthy way to get energized, as overconsumption can lead to further fatigue, headaches or anxious feelings. You don’t need to cut it out completely, just eat your energy, don’t drink it.
Sitting down all day
If you have an office job, you may find you sit down for hours at a time. This isn’t great for the body, and it can actually cause further weight gain. When we sit still for hours, our body tends to not be able to properly understand hunger cues, and it can lead to mindless snacking and very little exercise.
Being an emotional eater
Do you find yourself eating when you’re sad? Or even when you’re happy? Food shouldn’t be controlled by our emotions, because that’s when unhealthy attachments can start. This can hinder progress physically and mentally, as you could gain weight more at emotional times in your life.
Not managing self esteem issues
It can be hard to love yourself if you don’t find yourself attractive. But weight loss can’t fix all issues. If you have super low self esteem and can’t seem to manage it, this could impact your weight loss journey as you may start to give up making an effort.
Not listening to your doctor
Sometimes our doctors tell us stuff we don’t want to hear, but that’s what they’re there for. If your doctor is recommending diet changes, you should really listen. It can be frustrating hearing you need to reduce this and add this, but doctors only care about your health and the advice is coming from a professional.