6 pitfalls that might be sabotaging your weight loss
Did you make a New Year's resolution to lose weight, but instead the scale is moving in the wrong direction? You could be sabotaging your weight loss with these six pitfalls:
Juice cleanses are very high in sugar and low in protein. Increased intake of sugar can cause weight gain, and protein deficiency can lead to muscle breakdown. "Severely restricting your calories can also lead to bingeing in the long run," said Audra Wilson. She is a dietitian at Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital. "Your body cleanses itself through your liver and kidneys, so no extra help is necessary or effective."
'Saving up' your calories
While you may think skipping a few meals will decrease your total calorie intake, it usually leads to overeating at your next meal or increased snacking throughout the day. "Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism which is the opposite of what we are striving for with weight loss," says Wilson. "Eating a meal or snack containing protein every 4-5 hours can help keep your metabolism humming and hunger at bay."
Fad diets are just that: fads. They go in and out of style but the mechanism is usually the same -- limiting total calorie intake. If these diets work, the results are short term. The minute you go off the diet you'll put back on the pounds. "Be wary of any diet that instructs you to cut out an entire category of food," says Wilson. "This can prevent you from getting all of the nutrition you need. A better strategy would be to work with a dietitian to develop a plan to reduce calories while still meeting all of your nutritional needs."
Messed up math
According to Wilson, people typically underestimate their calorie intake by about 30 percent. These extra calories can add up fast! That's an extra 600 calories a day for a person eating what they think is 2,000 calories daily. "Smartphone apps, like My Fitness Pal, can more accurately track calorie counts and help you make better choices when grocery shopping or eating out," says Wilson. Tracking the calories you eat each day can also help you to be more mindful of the choices you make. Taking that one extra moment to stop and consider the food you are about to put into your mouth can push you in the healthier direction; which is sometimes to say no to that cookie or extra helping of mashed potatoes.
Snacks are saboteurs in disguise
You're eating five oranges a day to keep the flu away or snacking on low-calorie pretzels in between meals. Great plan, right? Maybe not. "As a dietitian I'm surprised to find that many of my patients do not realize that fruits are carbohydrates," says Wilson. "Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet, but overeating any one nutrient can lead to weight gain." Foods like pretzels and crackers are processed carbohydrates that will quickly raise and then drop your blood sugar leading to intense hunger. Choose snacks that are high in protein, like yogurt and low-fat string cheese, and snacks that are low carb and low calorie, such as vegetables. It's much harder to overeat broccoli than popcorn or berries.
You haven't asked yourself an important question
That question: am I actually hungry? Are you eating because it's "time to eat" or there is food sitting in front of you? "We are bombarded with food everywhere in our culture and it can mess with our hunger and satiety cues," says Wilson. "Next time you are reaching for that after-dinner treat, think of this mantra: If you're hungry, eat an apple. If you don't want the apple, you're not hungry." Chances are if an apple doesn't sound good to you, the hunger is not coming from your body's need for more nutrition but rather habit or an emotional need.
Looking for more information on weight loss?
The Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital offers medical weight management, nutrition and diet planning, individualized exercise programs, health psychology, diabetes education, and bariatric surgery. The 7,500-square foot clinic, located near the main entrance of Delnor Hospital in Geneva, features a demonstration kitchen, community conference space, six exam rooms, a treatment room, consultation rooms and physician offices.
"Every weight loss journey is unique. Our goal is to provide the individualized care plan and resources for long-term success," said Dr. Matthew Pittman, medical director, Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital. "For some patients that may include medications or meal supplements, while surgery may an option for others. All patients benefit from nutrition, exercise and psychosocial support."
For more information visit westweightloss.nm.org.
• Audra Wilson, RD, LDN, is a clinical dietitian with the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital.