Weight loss: 7 Common Mistakes You’re Making

Tips for weight loss

If you’re having trouble achieving your weight loss goals, it might be because of these 7 common mistakes you’re making.

Achieving your weight loss goals can be tricky, even when you’re regularly crushing it at the gym and (thinking that you’re) eating healthy. Many health experts cite the 80/20 rule for diet and exercise, meaning that 80% of success is directly related to diet and only 20% is related to exercise. If you’ve ever heard someone say “fitness starts in the kitchen” that is what they mean. 

In addition to not following the 80/20 rule, it turns out there’s a whole bunch of stuff you could be doing that’s preventing you from achieving your weight loss goals. Stuff like eating too much, eating too little, eating the wrong stuff, counting calories, doing the same workout every day, doing too much cardio, or not sleeping enough. Frankly, it can get a little confusing trying to keep your fitness goals on track.

If you feel like you’re doing everything right and not getting the results you want, there is a chance you’re making one (or a few) of the fundamental mistakes below.

1. Eating no Carbs & Too Much Protein

Balance protein with veggies

The early 2000s was the birth of the Great Carbohydrate Panic. Fad Diets like the Atkins Diet trained us all to fear carbs and overload on the proteins. While the “no-carb” approach may initially work, there are critical reasons why a low-carb/ high-fat diet is not the best approach for weight loss or sustainable health. You should always be wary of any diet that puts no limit on fat intake.

It’s important to remember there are plenty of healthy (non-fattening) sources of carbohydrates, like fruits, nuts, oatmeal, and lentils. These foods provide sustainable energy because they don’t create a spike in your blood sugar levels like simple carbs do. Much like calories, not all carbohydrates are created equal, so it’s best to focus on the quality of carbs you’re putting in your body, rather that to fixate on the number of grams.

2. Forgetting your Veggies

Shedding excess fat is as much about what you DO eat as what you DON’T. Research shows that depriving yourself and drastically cutting back on calories can actually make your body store more fat in the long run. If you want to lose weight, it’s not enough to just count calories, you need to up your intake of good calories.

Increasing your daily intake of veggies is a great way to get quality calories. Vegetables are packed with nutrients and loaded with water, so they provide energy and keep your body hydrated, which are both super-important when you’re trying to get in shape. Just make sure you’re choosing unprocessed fruits and vegetables, and when it comes to fruits  and vegetables, raw is always better.

3. Skipping Breakfast

Healthy scrambled eggs

There is some debate about whether or not skipping breakfast will prevent weight loss. Again, the biggest factor is what you are eating for breakfast. Skipping breakfast can make you hungrier later in the day, which might lead to you making less than ideal food choices, but choosing refined or processed carbohydrates in the morning can cause your blood sugar to spike which will also leave you hungrier later in the day.

Instead of cereal, bagels, or toast, try to start your day with protein-packed foods, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. Scrambled eggs with greens is a great way to start the day. And sprinkling some pumpkin or flax seeds on top will energize you by adding some of those healthy carbs we talked about above.

4. Losing Sleep

Hunger hormones are very much influenced by how much sleep you get. Many factors cause our hormones levels to change, and it turns out that how much sleep you get directly affects leptin levels, a hormone that is directly tied to weight loss.

Leptin is the “hunger hormone” responsible for telling your brain you are full. Sleep deprivation can cause leptin resistance in your body, which can result in constant hunger and overeating. The hormone balance in your body depends on many factors and sleep is not the only thing that affects Leptin levels. But not getting enough shut-eye not only causes leptin resistance, it can also leave you feeling too exhausted to exercise, placing unnecessary obstacles in the way of your weight loss goals.

5. Binging After Workouts

God, I want this pizza

It’s natural to feel hungry after working out, but an hour at the gym shouldn’t be a precursor to a large cheese pizza. Time Magazine’s John Cloud explored why we tend to overeat after working out in his article Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin. Among the many reasons he cited was something he calls calorie compensation.

Basically, we tend to overindulge after the gym for 2 reasons: because we’re hungry from exertion, and because we want to reward ourselves. But the food/ exercise equation is deceiving because while it may take an hour at the gym to burn 500 calories, it only takes 5 minutes to eat them again.

This idea of “compensation” can also work against you in terms of physical activity. The same study that Cloud explores in his article also found that we tend to compensate for extra physical activity by being less active when we’re not at the gym.

6. Doing The Same Workout Every Day

Experts agree that for the best results you have to vary the frequency, intensity, and time of your workouts. Switching up your workouts is the best way to challenge your body, and get better results. Your body will adapt to any exercise that you do repeatedly, and repetition will make the workout less effective. It can also get pretty boring which can throw a wrench in your motivation.

Instead of repeating the same exercises every day, use a split routine (where you focus on specific muscle groups each day), and switch up the types of exercises you do to train those muscles. Also, switching up the machines you use for cardio can keep your body burning calories at a higher rate. A lot of people stick to the same machines every day, but doing the same cardio every day conditions your body to the stress of that specific range of motion.

Your body will adapt to whatever you put it through, and when you’re not challenging yourself you’re not going to get the best results. The good news is, even small changes can make a big difference. Small modifications like changing the weight you’re lifting or the reps you’re doing can trick your body into producing better results.

7. Too Much Cardio & Not Enough Weights

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There is a common misconception that you have to do a ton of cardio to lose weight, when in fact, too much cardio can actually slow down your results. To get the best results from your cardio try high-intensity interval training, alternating between shorter bursts of high-intensity activity and slower “recovery” periods.

You also need to balance your cardio with weight training, because the more muscle you have the more fat you will burn. Many women fear that lifting will add bulk to their bodies, but weight training isn’t necessarily going to make you “ripped,” you just need to figure out what kind of weight training is best for what you are trying to achieve.  

Now Go Forth And Be Fit

Achieving your fitness goals is challenging. No one said it would be easy (and if they did, they lied). But making small lifestyle changes like the ones above can yield awesome results in less time. So if you’re working out like crazy and not losing weight, reassess the basics above and see if there is some small mistake that is standing in your way. There is no “miracle weight loss remedy,” but you can set yourself up for success with a balanced diet, plenty of sleep, a diverse workout regime, and some self-control.

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