Most everyone I know are always trying to lose weight, or at least trying to maintain their current weight which is awesome because excessive weight comes with a risk of health problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, joint problems etc. Weight loss is a personal journey and what works for one person, may or may not necessarily work for another individual. There are different approaches for weight loss – low fat, vegan, low carb. gluten-free, bariatric surgery, exercise..I mean the list will go on and on. There is also no shortages of advice on weight loss ranging from diet pills, shakes to exercise regimen that has a secret for your weight loss. As a dietitian who deals with weight management on a daily basis, I can reassure you that gimmicky advertisement especially those who promises a drastic weight loss in short duration won’t work. I have said this before but there is no magic pill or secret for weight loss…A successful weight loss comes with smaller, realistic healthy lifestyle changes that you will be able to stick with forever. I did post on ‘highs and lows of weight maintenance‘ a while back so today, I am going to summarize ‘5 Weight Loss Mistakes’ I have noticed among people trying to lose weight. Question your smoothies/shakes: I am a big proponent of smoothies myself because it’s the easiest way to get in your fruits and veggies..however, just because you are drinking a smoothie, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always healthy. Smoothies are usually made with healthy ingredients like fresh or frozen fruit, skim/2% milk or non-dairy milk, low-fat yogurt etc. But some smoothies also feature plenty of high-fat and/or high-sugar items like ice cream, sweetened syrups, or chocolate. If you are not careful about what’s in your smoothie, you can end up with a drink that has upwards of 600 calories, enough saturated fat and carbohydrate grams in the triple digits — and that’s just for the small size.Instead: Make your own smoothie at home using real all-natural ingredients, low-fat dairy, and slowly increase the proportion of greens overtime. Here is a “Guide to Making a Smoothie” and a post on how to “Make Ahead Smoothie Packs. If you are buying or ordering smoothies, remember to check ingredients, grams of sugar, and calories.What’s in your salad?: Generally, anyone interested in eating healthier will make salad part of their every day life. Salads are a super-convenient way to work in a couple of servings of vegetables and/or fruit. They are also a great source of fiber and antioxidants. Not all salads are created equal, especially if you are not too careful about your toppings and salad dressings. A wholesome salad starts with greens, chopped veggies, protein such as beans, lentils, meat, boiled eggs or tofu, healthy fats via nuts/seeds/avocado and of course some dressings. Try to stay away from crispy chicken (which most likely means fried chicken), bacon, croutons, cheese. Another culprit in making salad unhealthy are salad dressings, especially the ones that comes in packets/bottles with lots of unnecessary ingredients. Instead: Make your own salad dressing when possible because that way you have control over your ingredients. While dining out, stick with the vinegar based dressing rather than creamy ones and don’t be afraid to ask your server about the ingredients in your salad dressing. When purchasing salad dressing, read the ingredient list to make sure mono or polyunsaturated fat oils such as olive, canola, sunflower, safflower peanut, walnut, or soybean oil are used. Shorter the ingredient list, the better it is.What’s up with cheat-days? I have noticed that people follow a generally good eating habits for 5-6 days a week and save one day as ‘cheat day’ to eat/drink to their hearts content. I am sure there are individuals for whom cheat days allow them to maintain their weight loss goals and enjoy their life, I certainly wouldn’t tell them to stop if its working for you.
My biggest concern is people separating foods into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ categories which further encourages them to associate eating with guilt and shame. I would rather you eat a small slice of cake or a soda every now and then rather than you anticipate to eat a whole cake or a giant bottle of soda on a certain day. It’s a slippery slope from there.
Cardio vs. Strength Training: Minute per minute, cardio indisputably burns more calories than strength training, which could explain why compared to strength trainers, aerobic exercisers lose more weight in less time. But cardio doesn’t do much for your muscles and strength training is the way to go for that. Did you know that for every three pounds of muscle you gain, you can expect to burn an extra calorie without moving a single one of those muscles. If you are in the beginning phases of weight loss, cardio is probably more effective in losing weight quickly but to sustain weight loss, incorporate a workout plan that has a combination of cardio and strength training.Do you really need a snack? Snacking can be a part of weight management plan but eating snacks in between meals won’t automatically cause weight loss. Studies have shown that people who eat more than three times a day tend to weigh less, but the idea is to eat more often in order to prevent hunger (and binge eat) but if you don’t cut the total number of calories you eat each day, you won’t shed pounds. Sometimes, people eat more than what they need in the name of snacking which additionally hinders weight loss. Always listen to your body and follow your stomach. Eat when you feel slightly hungry and stop when you feel just slightly full because it takes about 20 minutes for your body to register when it’s satiated.
By no means is this a comprehensive list but rather a summation of a few things I have noticed throughout my career in dietetics. I’d love to know what kind of things have worked for you in terms of weight loss, or what didn’t go so well.
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