People are always surprised when we tell them that, despite being registered dietitians nutritionists, January is not our busiest month, despite all of the New Year’s weight-loss and get-healthy resolutions. You may be surprised to learn that one of our busiest times is the beginning of February, when people realize they’re struggling to meet their goals on their own and they don’t know what they are doing wrong.
Here are five common weight-loss mistakes we see. Are you making any of them?
1. You skip meals.
Sure, you feel like you’ve got an edge on weight loss by cutting an entire meal’s worth of calories from your day. However, this backfires. Research shows that people who skip meals, particularly breakfast, are more likely to be overweight. In fact, they typically end up so overly hungry at their next meal that they can’t make a rationale decision to choose a healthy option—and what’s more, they give themselves the license to eat more than they should, justifying the extra because they ate less earlier in the day.
If a traditional meal won’t work for you, it’s O.K. to piece together a high-fiber food with a protein-rich food and count that lighter fare as your meal.Try a hardboiled egg and a piece of fruit or a banana with peanut butter.
2. You drink your calories.
You love your “bevvies”—a smoothie for a snack, Gatorade® while you work out, an afternoon latte, a few cocktails. Your brain doesn’t compensate for liquid calories by making you feel any less hungry, so you wind up overconsuming calories.
-Add calorie-free pizzazz to your water or seltzer by tossing in slices of limes, lemons, oranges, cucumbers and/or strawberries; the great flavor of these foods will seep into the water and add a refreshing twist.
-Stick to water during exercise if you aren’t working out intensely for more than 90 minutes.
-Tally up your liquid calories and swap them for food instead and drink water. Goodbye large glass of orange juice (and the 240 calories in it); hello glass of water and an orange (60 calories).
3. You eat too much sodium and think it doesn’t matter.
You don’t have high blood pressure and you sweat out salt when you exercise. But most of us consume two to three times more salt than we should. Salt increases hunger, thirst and cravings—and it makes your fat cells denser. Plus it makes you retain water and bloat—which means that, despite working hard to lose weight, you may weigh more after a salty meal due to water retention. This can make you feel