It’s no secret that many people in the world struggle with their weight. In the United States research showed that 30% of adults are overweight, over 42% are obese, and 11% are considered severely obese (1). And while some people might think that weight is simply a matter of calories in versus calories out, the truth is that there are a number of other factors at play. Here are five of the most common weight loss mistakes.
1. Not Eating Enough Calories
One of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to lose weight is not eating enough calories. When you cut back on calories too much, your metabolic rate slows, causing your body to hold onto fat stores while breaking down lean tissue (organs, muscles, and bones) for needed nutrients. This can stall weight loss and even lead to weight gain despite eating very little. This is survival!
You also might end up with some other undesirable side effects like losing or breaking hair, having brittle nails, and losing firmness in your skin. These are all considered “unnecessary” functions when your body is simply trying to survive. All of the nutrients needed to grow hair, nails, and quality skin are diverted to vital organs and required functions.
2. Drinking too many calories
Another mistake people make when trying to lose weight is drinking too many calories. A lot of weight loss programs will tell you to cut out all sugary drinks like soda and juice, so people turn to sports drinks, smoothies, shakes, high-calorie coffees, and alcohol.
If weight loss is your goal, you need to be mindful of the calories you’re consuming in these drinks. These calories generally aren’t as filling as eating the same calories in solid food would be, so they’re easy to forget about. But they can really add up and be the reason you’re not losing the weight. Stick to pure filtered water, coffee, and tea (without additives and sweeteners).
3. Not Getting Enough Sleep
One of the most common weight loss mistakes people make is not getting enough quality sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more of the hormone ghrelin, which signals hunger, and less of the hormone leptin, which signals fullness. This can lead to increased cravings and overeating.
Not only that, but when you’re tired you’re more likely to make poorer food choices and have less energy to exercise. All of these factors can stall weight loss or even lead to weight gain.
Fun fact: did you know that many top movie actors are asked to greatly increase the amount of sleep they’re getting when preparing their physique for a new role? SLEEP is the biggest contributor to fat loss, muscle gain, and chiseled bodies! Sure, their workouts and nutrition are on point, but science has proven that the biggest difference-maker is sleep!
4. Not Strength Training
Another mistake people make when trying to lose weight is not strength training. When most people think of weight loss, they think of cardio. And while cardio has its benefits, strength training is actually more effective.
Strength training helps to build lean muscle mass. Muscle tissue burns more energy than fat tissue, even when you’re at rest. So the more muscle mass you have, the more energy you’ll burn throughout the day.
In addition, strength training can help to improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to regulate blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. It can also help to reduce inflammation which contributes to weight gain and water retention.
5. Focusing solely on the weight!
This one seems counterintuitive…if your goal is to lose weight, how can focusing on weight be the problem? Because health does NOT equal weight. When we focus only on weight, we can slip into unhealthy habits that aren’t promoting health. This might cause someone to:
- take toxic diet pills
- under-consume nutrients
- crash diet
- yo-yo diet
- Dehydrate (overuse of saunas, underconsumption of water, taking diuretics)
Sure, some of these behaviors might cause the scale to show a lower number temporarily, but none of them are sustainable or promote health and vitality. If you want a future filled with travel, adventure, and excitement, you do not want to be losing muscle, bone, or organ tissue just to drop a couple of pounds!
As a trusted health care practitioner, I would much rather you eat quality nutrition, get moderate exercise, drink adequate water, prioritize adequate quality sleep, manage your stress, and fulfill any remaining needs with nutritional supplements – even if it meant the scale didn’t budge. Your health is FAR more valuable than the number on the scale. The weight doesn’t necessarily compromise your health. In fact, most often, the weight accumulated because of health complications. It started with the health challenge – not the weight! Let’s focus on the health challenge!
Weight loss is a common goal and by far the number 1 reason clients come to me, but it’s important to make sure you’re doing it the right way so your health doesn’t suffer along the way.
Fix your health to lose weight, not lose weight to fix your health.