When you're trying to shed pounds, steer clear of the quick fixes and focus on healthy weight-loss strategies. Since it's not always easy to decide which diet tips you should follow, we've rounded up five common weight-loss techniques you should avoid.
Cutting Entire Food Groups
Giving up entire food groups can lead to a nutritional deficiency — not to mention trigger major cravings for whatever food has been cut. Rather than, say, eliminating all carbohydrates, focus on whole grains and remember to watch out for portion control. Usually it's the extra servings that add to your waistline, not the pasta itself.
Keep your pasta calories in check with these tricks , or make these low-carb veggie noodles .
Choosing All Cardio, All the Time
If you live on the treadmill but never lift a pound, you're missing out on one of the most important pieces of the fitness puzzle. Not only does weight training prevent injury by strengthening the joints, but it also builds muscle mass and increases metabolic rate . Bonus: thanks to a revved-up metabolism, you'll keep burning calories long after you've slipped off your sneakers.
New to lifting weights? These tips for starting strength training  will help you out.
Exercising on an Empty Stomach
A small study (28 people) published in The Journal of Physiology found that exercising on an empty stomach, which is easiest to do in the early morning, helped the muscles burn more fat  for fuel during the workout. Still, another study published in Strength and Conditioning Journal concluded that your body burned about the same amount of fat  whether you ate or not, and that exercising on an empty stomach causes your body to hold on to fat and target your lean muscles for fuel instead, breaking down the muscles you're working so hard to build. Your lean muscles also help to boost your metabolism, so you definitely don't want to lose them.
Since eating in the morning gives your body enough fuel to work out, improves your endurance, and can also jump-start your metabolism, we recommend eating a little something that includes easily digestible carbs and protein.
Here are some suggestions for easily digestible snacks to eat right before your sweat session .
Skimping on Sleep
Making time for your workouts can mean less time for sleep, but it's important to get enough zzz's if you're trying to lose weight. You need extra energy to keep up with your exercise routine, and skimping on sleep can affect your body's ability to control appetite. Too little sleep increases an appetite-stimulating hormone , so if you don't get enough shut-eye, you may be tempted to overindulge.
If shut-eye tends to elude you, try these tips for falling asleep faster .
Cutting calories is key to weight loss, but missing out on meals can wreak havoc on your metabolism. When you wait too long to eat, your body reacts by slowing down your metabolism  and delaying your weight-loss efforts. If your schedule is the issue and you're simply too busy to sit down and eat a full meal, store small snacks in your purse to eat throughout the day so that you can keep your metabolism moving.
Check out our suggestions for healthy store-bought snacks  for when you're on the go.