Still Not Losing Weight? These Dietitians Reveal 10 Reasons You Aren't Seeing Progress
You're doing everything to lose weight: loading up on healthy foods, making smarter choices while dining out, and exercising. But if you're still not seeing progress, you could be getting in your own way and not even realize it.
Even when people make a conscious decision to lose weight, they could be misunderstanding what it takes to actually drop pounds and see the number on the scale go down. These dietitians explain the most common mistakes people make when they are trying to lose weight. Scroll through, take note, and avoid these on your own weight-loss journey.
You Go Overboard on "Healthy" Food
The first thing you did when trying to lose weight was load up on healthy foods. The problem? Even healthy foods can be caloric if you eat too much of them. Think: avocados, hummus, and oil-based salad dressings. In reality, you still need to eat in a calorie deficit to lose weight, no matter how healthy your diet is.
"The one I see most often is the thought that eating 'healthy' is all someone needs to do to lose weight," Allison Childress, PhD, RDN, CSSD, Assistant Professor of Nutritional Sciences at Texas Tech University, told POPSUGAR. "I have patients who say, 'I'm eating healthy. I stopped drinking sodas, eating fast food, started drinking more water, etc.' However, what they are not doing is creating a calorie deficit."
Eating healthy is good to get proper macro and micronutrients, but that doesn't necessarily mean you are eating in a calorie deficit.
"We need to be aware that adding 'healthy' foods to our diet can be beneficial, but we will only lose weight if those 'healthy' foods are lower in calories than what we were already eating," she explained.
You Are Eating Too Few Calories
Although it's important to eat in a calorie deficit, you can go too far and eat too few calories. This will definitely sabotage your weight-loss efforts.
"This actually can slow down metabolism and lead to your body conserving fat stores; your body perceives that it is starving, so it holds on to fat to ensure survival," Sarah Reuven, MS, RDN, told POPSUGAR. "Making sure you are getting enough calories to maintain good energy throughout the day and eating a combination of lean protein, plenty of non-starchy veggies, healthy fats, and whole grains is the best way to ensure you meet your weight-loss goals."
You Have an All-or-Nothing Approach
"The number one mistake people make in their weight loss efforts is taking an all-or-nothing approach," Charlie Seltzer, MD, weight loss specialist, told POPSUGAR. "Going 100 calories over your goals is not the same thing as going 800 calories over your goals. The thought should be damage control, not being perfect."
Also, a lot of people assume if they indulge in a treat or cheat meal, their entire day is ruined and continue to eat poorly. Instead, take each meal as a new opportunity to eat well and eat within your calorie budget.
You Don't Track Your Food
You shouldn't feel like you need to eat a perfect diet all the time to lose weight. However, when you deviate from your plan, you should still monitor your calorie intake and keep track of what you're eating.
"Since we know tracking food increases likelihood of success exponentially, not tracking when you deviate from your plan is horrible," Dr. Zeltzer said. He explained that if you eat an average of 1,600 calories a day but go over three days a week and your weight still goes down, you could maybe raise your caloric goal and still lose weight.
"But this only works if you know how many calories you went over," he explained. "There is also a subconscious component, which may keep someone from having that extra donut right before bed if they know they have to track it."
You Avoid Fat
Yes, foods with fat in them are also highly caloric. But that doesn't mean you should avoid this important macronutrient altogether.
"Avoiding fat and focusing entirely on low-fat or fat-free foods is, in my professional opinion, the biggest way to sabotage weight-loss efforts," Kylene Bogden, RD, told POPSUGAR. "It leads to a constant state of never feeling satisfied and poor blood sugar control, the two biggest keys to weight loss."
Maria Zamarripa, MS, RD, agrees. "By including fat sources such as nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and avoiding the processed low-fat options, you are much more likely to reduce sugar cravings and eat less junk food calories later in the day," Maria said.
Keep in mind that while these foods are satiating, they are still easy to overeat. Be sure that you are still staying within your daily calorie allowance to create a calorie deficit and actually lose weight.
You Eat Too Many Healthy Fats
On the flip side, you can eat too many healthy fats and end up in a calorie surplus, leading to weight gain.
"We all know that healthy fats are good for you, but they are also a high-calorie food," Sarah explained. "Being mindful about portion sizes and not going overboard on avocado toast, nuts and almond butter can help you reach your weight loss goals."
You Try to Jazz Up Food For Instagram
You know how aesthetically pleasing a perfectly topped acai bowl or yogurt parfait looks on social media. But if you're actually planning on eating that food, you could be consuming too many calories.
"For example, 3/4 cup of yogurt with 1/4 cup of fruit is around 210 calories," Monica Auslander Moreno, MS, RD, nutrition consultant for RSP Nutrition, told POPSUGAR. "Sprinkle in the gorgeous colorful add-ins, which are nutritious, like 1 teaspoon hemp, 1 teaspoon chia, 2 tablespoons drizzled almond butter, 1 tablespoon bee pollen, 1 tablespoon flax, and 1 tablespoon chocolate chips, and it more than doubles the calories! We always encourage nutrient-dense, whole foods, but there is too much of a good thing."
Plus, there's no shame in Instagramming what you actually ate, even if it doesn't include a plethora of colorful toppings.
You Don't Drink Enough Water
Yeah, yeah, you've heard it all before: drinking enough water is essential for proper hydration, healthier skin, and, yes, losing weight. But it's true, and you'd be surprised how many people don't drink the recommended 64-plus ounces of water a day.
"Inadequate hydration is a nightmare when trying to lose weight," Kylene said. "Lack of fluids is often mistaken for hunger."
Drinking enough water is also essential for your digestive system, and if you're working out hard, you'll need to drink even more.
You Don't Get Enough Sleep
Many people ignore their sleep habits and don't factor sleep into their weight-loss plan. In fact, adequate sleep is an essential tenet of weight-loss.
"Studies show that lack of sleep can directly impact your weight by increasing late night snacking, particularly high-carb snacks, as well as choosing larger portion sizes," Sarah explained. "Getting too little sleep also increases your body's cortisol levels, a stress hormone that signals to your body to conserve energy, which ultimately leads to your body hanging on to extra fat."
Aim for around seven hours of sleep a night. And if you're having trouble falling asleep, try these four ways to get more sleep.
You Try to Overcompensate With Exercise
Yes, exercise is essential in helping you lose weight — it burns calories, helps you build lean muscle, and can rev up your metabolism for an afterburn. But exercise shouldn't be your only method of losing weight. In fact, some people who exercise even rigorously find that they gain weight.
"Really intense exercise like boot camp and running are amazing for health and weight loss, but if you're slamming a smoothie afterwards, you may have calorically 'negated' what you just burned," Monica explained. She recommends instead eating a little piece of cheese after a workout, about one ounce, to tide you over to your next meal.
Intense exercise, such as running, also increases your appetite, so be mindful of how many calories you are eating in a day. Being active is great, but it doesn't give you license to eat whatever you want; be sure you are still loading up on nutritious food and eating in a calorie deficit.