Have you hit a weight loss plateau?
10 common weight loss mistakes and how to fix them
Are you trying to lose weight but feel like you’re getting nowhere? Don’t be disheartened, we might be able to help. We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 most common reasons why you might be at a weight loss plateau or aren’t losing as much as you’d like, despite the effort you’re putting in. Thankfully, alongside each problem we’ve provided the solution, so you can get yourself back on track to being the healthy, happy person you want to be.
Mistake #1 – Focusing too much on the scales
If you’re eating well and exercising, don’t be discouraged if your weight fluctuates on the scales. This is normal with daily variations of up to 2kg! You may be losing fat and gaining muscle (which weighs more than fat), so the scales may not accurately reflect your improved body composition. Other factors such as fluid intake and undigested food can also impact what the scales say.
Solution – Don’t step on the scales every day, just once a week will give you a gauge of your progress. Also watch for signs like looser clothing or take measurements if you want evidence of whether you’re shrinking.
Mistake #2 – Consuming too many calories
It has to be asked – are you eating too much? Let’s face it, it’s easy to do and under-reporting is a common issue for dieters. It could be that extra latte, a piece of birthday cake, one handful of nuts that became two, or a creamy dressing you poured generously over your healthy low-calorie salad. It’s often these little extra indulgences that we may overlook that are the culprit.
Solution – Beware of snacks, especially the energy dense kind. Also be careful not to go too extreme the other way, as too few calories can lead to a slowdown in your metabolism as well as loss of muscle mass.
Mistake # 3 - Not monitoring what you’re eating
We’ve said that overeating or under-reporting are common problems for dieters. The only way to overcome this is to better scrutinise what’s going in, in order to ensure you’re in calorie deficit, which is essential for weight loss.
Solution – You could opt for a set calorie meal plan so you know exactly how many calories you’re consuming every day. The reason they’re so successful is that we have already done all the nutritional balancing and calorie counting for you. Your job is to choose what calorie level you want to start with (such as 1200, 1500, 1800 per day or the Fast 800), and simply to stick to eating the food provided without adding in any extras that can push you over.
Alternatively, download a food intake app that can help you keep a log of what you’re eating and how that stacks up in terms of nutrients and calories. This can be a lot of work but the outcome is worth it.
Mistake #4 – Not eating enough protein
You can’t survive on rabbit food alone and unfortunately, too many diets leave you feeling starved and deprived. This can just lead to binge-eating and a failure to shed the weight. Getting adequate nutrients overall plus protein are both essential in your dieting arsenal.
Solution – Keeping hunger at bay could be as simple as upping your protein intake as protein makes you feel fuller for longer. Getting some protein into every single meal or snack you eat will help you eat less calories overall. Good options are fish, meat, eggs, yoghurt, beans, lentils, seeds and nuts.
Mistake #5 – Exercising too little or too much
A lack of exercise can lead to a loss of muscle and a slower metabolism, both of which can make shifting the extra kilos harder. Keep in mind that over-exercising has its pitfalls too and can lead to stress and an unhealthy mindset about your body.
Solution – Following the Australian Physical Activity Guidelines is a good place to start. It recommends 2.5–5 hours of moderate intensity and 1.25-2.5 hours of vigorous activity per week for adults. Another guide for weight loss is approx. 3 scheduled workouts per week where you aim to sweat a little plus incorporate plenty of incidental movement such as bike riding to work, taking the stairs or walking the dog. Sometimes you just need to first set your exercise goals.
Mistake #6 – Too much emphasis on exercise over food intake
Many people over estimate how many calories they burn by working out. Exercise is definitely a key factor in losing weight and feeling physically and mentally strong, but don’t think you can just exercise and eat all the chocolate you like – this strategy is bound to fail!
Solution - Most nutrition experts agree that the magic combination is around 80% diet and 20% physical activity, so your number one focus needs to be eating healthy food in portion sized amounts.
Mistake #7 - Eating processed foods
In a nutshell, too many processed foods means too many additives, preservatives, chemicals, sugars, fats and salt. And all that stacks up to making you feel yuk. Your body does not need and does not want these additives and it won’t function properly if they’re in your system.
Solution – Switch over to eating unprocessed, natural wholefoods. By eating the way Mother Nature intended, you’re giving your body the best chance of renewing itself from the inside out. You’ll be surprised that the more healthily you eat, the less you crave the bad stuff and the more easily your body will find its natural weight balance over time.
Mistake #8 – You’re not getting enough sleep
Poor sleep can refer to both the quantity and the quality of the shut-eye you’re getting and has been linked in many studies to overeating, overweight and obesity.
Solution – Try to establish a good sleep routine including going to bed and waking up at roughly the same time each day, stop all screen time an hour before bed, plus keep the room dark and not overly warm. Learn some extra tips on how to sleep better.
Mistake #9 - You’re drinking too much alcohol
Beer, wine and many pre-mixed drinks contain a high amount of sugar that can blow out your calorie counts and put you way off your weight loss goal. In addition, alcohol is often associated with eating salty snacks and fatty foods, so drinking too much can lead you to make some food choices you may regret later.
Solution – If you’re genuinely wanting to lose weight then the best advice is to take a rest from the alcohol for a while. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the odd drink or celebration. A sprit like vodka combined with a calorie-free mixer, such as soda water can be a great option.
Mistake #10 - You’re not drinking enough water
In studies, people who drank more water were found to lose more weight. This could be due to a higher number of calories burned in the period immediately after consuming water.
Solution – Make it a habit to drink a glass of water before every meal and one between meals too.
If you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, you could be making some or many of the above weight loss mistakes. If so, don’t be too hard on yourself and don’t expect results overnight. Just gently get yourself back on track and the weight will begin to go. If you need more support in the form of a weight loss meal plan, or a food cleanse to get you kick-started into healthier eating habits, Dietlicious may be able to help.