People will do just about anything when it comes to losing weight, but not all tactics are safe or effective. Here are the ten most common mistakes made when trying to get the scale to budge.

Step 1: Crash Dieting

Any diet that asks you to restrict your calories to1200 or less is a crash diet. 1200 calories is way too little to fully satisfy your body, which needs “fuel” to function correctly. When you are eating too little you will experience more “cravings” than if you were eating healthy balanced whole foods.

Step 2: Thinking Diet Means Low-Carb

There are many “diets” out there that target carbohydrates as enemy number 1 and encourage people to “cut carbs” to lose weight quickly. The issue is not carbohydrates but the type of carbohydrate that people are choosing, such as white flour (pasta, bread, rice), processed foods that offer little nutrients or any fiber at all. Carbohydrates are our main energy source that fuels our cells. It is important to eat carbohydrates but choose whole-grain products such as whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, quinoa, or Ezekial bread that offers nutrients, fiber, and some protein. They also help to stabilize blood sugars and help to keep you full.

Step 3: Forgetting Liquid Calories

Sodas, juices, teas, and “sports drinks” are all full of sugar and extra calories that can really pack on the pounds quickly. Switching to low calorie beverages such as water, low-fat, skim, or unsweetened milk, or coconut water are better options.

Step 4: Losing Weight Too Fast

Healthy weight loss is an average of 1-2 pounds per week. Rapid weight loss can often be from water or muscle rather than from fat, and the faster we lose weight the faster we are able to gain that weight back. The ideal way to lose weight is slow, gradual, consistent weight loss over a significant period of time.

Step 5: Skipping Meals

A typical meal should contain around 300-500 calories, depending on weight and height, with meals occurring around 2-3 hours apart. Without the addition of exercise, most of us require at least 1500 calories to sustain normal body functions. Skipping meals can lead to low blood glucose (forcing our muscles to be broken down for energy) and can lead to poor food choices later in the day. The hungrier we are the less likely we are to make healthy choices.

Step 6: Eliminating ALL of Your Favorite Foods (or Entire Food Groups)

Following an all-or-nothing method to dieting, cutting entire food groups, or eliminating your favorite foods can often lead to a feeling of deprivation which can lead to overindulgence in unhealthy foods. Following an extremely strict “diet” is difficult and most people return to their unhealthy eating habits, rather than learning how to eat in a balanced way.

Step 7: Lack of Planning

Lack of planning means that during a busy week you could get stuck at work or stuck in a meeting with no healthy food choices available, which could lead to fast, easy, and probably unhealthy food choices. Taking the time on the weekend to go to the grocery store, choose healthy foods, and prepare some of them for the week ahead can help alleviate some time consuming prep work during a busy week. It is important that we take the time to plan for success and this really is important when choosing healthy foods.

Step 8: Eating When You’re Not Hungry

Often times we go into the kitchen and we are not sure why we are there. We are looking for something to eat, but we’re not sure what we are in the mood for. Many times we consume extra calories due to boredom. A simple rule to follow: if you are not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you are truly not hungry. Try drinking some water, doing some household chores, or going for a walk instead.

Step 9: Eating too little

As was mentioned before, most of us need at least 1500 calories to function properly. When we eat too little it actually slows the metabolism down. Your body becomes efficient at functioning on a very small amount of calories, and when you begin to eat again it still thinks its starving and will continue to hold on to calories which can lead to weight gain.

Step 10: Relying on Magic Solutions

There is no pill, no shake, no magic diet that is going to do what balanced eating of whole foods and exercising regularly will do. The only way to increase our metabolism is to build muscle through proper nutrition and strength training.  Our bodies use more calories to sustain a muscle cells, which in turn means the more muscle we have, the more calories we will burn at rest.

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