Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows how painful it is when the scale refuses to budge. It’s particularly frustrating if you’ve been diligently sticking to a strict diet.
But what you may not realize is that your diet may be sabotaging your weight-loss goals. If you’ve been struggling to shed a few pounds, it’s time to take a closer look at your eating plan.
Consider these five weight-loss pitfalls as to why your diet isn’t working:
You’re not getting enough calories.
If you’re in a hurry to drop a few pounds, a crash diet may sound like a good idea. But crash diets won’t help you lose weight. In fact, they may do the opposite! If you feel deprived, you’re more likely to wind up binging on goodies.
Weight loss experts recommend that you eat at least 1200 calories per day. But even that limit may be too low for some people. If you’re always starving, it’s a good bet that you need to up your calorie intake. Try adding in another small meal each day. You might also allow yourself a healthy snack in the morning or afternoon.
Your diet is too restrictive.
A diet that cuts out all the foods you love is a diet that’s doomed to fail. An overly-restrictive diet can even jeopardize your health by causing a nutritional deficiency. Make sure your diet includes a diverse range of foods. A healthy diet usually includes a mix of fruits, veggies, protein, and whole grains. Don’t forget about healthy fats, like those found in olive oil, nuts, or fatty fish!
When it comes to your favorite junk foods, consider following the 85/15 rule. Under this plan, you eat healthy foods for 85% of your meals and then eat whatever you like for the other 15%. This rule keeps you on track while also allowing for occasional splurges.
You’re not getting enough protein or fiber.
If you never seem to feel full, you might need to increase your protein intake. Many people turn to prepackaged diet foods when they’re trying to lose weight. These foods often include plenty of carbs and sugars but skimp on protein, fiber, and healthy fats. As a result, you may find yourself feeling hungry all the time.
Make sure that each meal or snack includes a healthy source of protein. Try adding an egg, a few ounces of chicken, or a glass of milk. Bulk up your meal with fresh veggies, too. This will help you add more fiber to your diet without loading up on extra calories.
- You’re not getting enough sodium.
It’s true that most modern Americans consume too much sodium. But some diets send you too far in the other direction. If you’re only eating salads or green smoothies, you might not be getting enough salt. You’re also at risk if you’re logging tons of hours in the gym and guzzling gallons of water.
While too much sodium is bad for your health, a sodium deficiency is equally risky. If you’ve been following a strict diet, check to make sure that your meals include enough sodium. If you do a lot of sweating, consider an electrolyte-replacement drink.
You’re dieting, but not eating a healthy diet.
Many people mistakenly assume that dieting and eating “healthy” is the same thing. But the truth is that many popular “diets” do little to help your body get the nutrients it needs. If your diet focuses on prepackaged foods and snacks, it’s a sure bet that your diet could use a little improvement.
Packaged foods, even those labeled as “healthy” options, seldom have the same nutrients that are found in whole or unprocessed foods. Plenty of so-called diet foods also includes hidden sugar or sodium, plus tons of artificial ingredients. These foods don’t offer your body the fuel it needs and won’t promote weight loss.
Instead of living off frozen meals or packaged snacks, prepare your own meals from scratch whenever possible. Focus on eating whole, minimally-processed foods like fruits, veggies, eggs, unprocessed meats, and full-fat dairy.
The bottom line:
Going “on a diet” isn’t an effective way to lose weight and keep it off. It’s never a good idea to label certain foods as “off limits” or blindly cut calories. Instead, try to examine your diet and consider where you can make healthy changes. Your body needs nutrient-rich foods, so work to cut back on junk food. Replace foods that don’t have much nutritional value with fresher and healthier options. You’ll feel better, stay full longer, and have an easier time sticking to a beneficial diet!