Weight loss is a notoriously challenging process, especially when compared to how quickly weight can be gained.
With numerous methods available for shedding pounds, it can be tough to distinguish which ones will genuinely benefit you and which ones will ultimately derail your progress.
While the latest celebrity diet or weight loss supplement may seem tempting, it’s essential to be cautious.
Before beginning your weight loss journey, scrutinize the following techniques that might be more harmful than helpful.
For further advice on weight loss, check out strategies for overcoming the weight loss hurdles that affect a quarter of adults.
1. You’re doing the low fat thing
There are so many low-fat items on shelves now—but is eating them really a good way to lose weight? More and more we’re learning that fat—well, the right fats—are great for you. They’re super satiating, meaning you won’t overeat, and the come packed with many heart-healthy benefits. (In case you haven’t heard, carbs are the new baddie on the block.)
One study found that those who eat high, healthy fats, were the best at keeping weight off. So instead of limiting fat in your diet, go for good versions like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil instead.
2. You’re obsessed with juice cleanses
When you want to lose some weight, you might immediately think to go down the juice cleanse route. Sure, sipping on some green is a great way to up your veggie and fruit intake, but because you’re not filling up as much as you would with protein-packed food, there’s a good chance you’re going to be hungry and unsatisfied.
Also, if you’re not careful, you could be loading up way too much sugar. Enjoy a green juice during the day, but make healthy dishes you can chew, too.
3. You’re drinking too many calories
Smoothies are great, but you have to be careful not to overdo it. By the time you add in everything you want, some can be loaded with hundreds and hundreds of extra calories—and you can sip everything up in as little as 10 minutes.
Having a 400-calorie smoothie filled with greens for breakfast is a great way to start the day, but having a smoothie with another meal is basically like eating two meals at once. In other words: it’s terrible for your waistline.
4. You’re doing crazy cleanses
There are plenty of crazy cleanses—with Beyoncé’s Master Cleanse known for the interesting combination of water, lemon juice, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper as the most famous—but none of them have great end results. After days of dieting, you’ll probably lose weight… for a while. Unfortunately, that weight tends to comes back—and rapidly at that, says Harvard Medical School.
5. You’re doing low calorie everything
Those who eat low-calorie diets not only feel deprived and end up binging, but they also make you lose muscle, not fat, and typically gain the weight right back, says the Cleveland Clinic.
In other words: don’t slash your calories; eat better calories. When you starve yourself, your metabolism actually slows down. So keep it running hot with great food.
6. You’re over exercising
There is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and exercise is one of those things. When you exercise too much it actually stresses out your body and sets you back.
It’s important to push yourself, but only so far. If you work yourself to exhaustion, your body won’t bounce back stronger.
7. You’re cutting out the wrong carbs
As I previously mentioned, carbs the new food baddie. Well, that’s only half the story. While refined carbs like white bread and white rice spike your blood sugar and trigger insulin, which promotes fat storage, other carbs are actually great for you.
Fiber-packed options like brown rice and other whole grains can help keep you full and satisfied, as well as give you energy. Your best bet for losing weight is including good carbs in your meal in moderation, says the Cleveland Clinic.
8. You eat health food that isn’t healthy
In this day and age, it’s hard to tell what’s good for you and what’s not. Countless products are advertised as healthy or “natural” with green, recyclable packaging, but when you actually look at the nutrition labels it’s a different story. When you’re wanting to lose weight, don’t just trust a company’s slogan.
Stick to whole foods, and when you reach for the packaged stuff, get out your detective gear and make sure it lives up to its claims. Because no health food should have 40 grams of sugar or over a days’ worth of sodium per serving.
9. You eat salads but not the right kind
Salads can have a way of making you feel healthy the second you take a bite—but if you’re trying to lose weight by stocking up on greens, you might want to make sure your toppings are helping, too. Sure, spinach is good for you—just don’t also load your dish with croutons, bacon bits, and Caesar dressing.
Stick to a handful of nuts, some avocado, a splash of Balsamic vinaigrette, and all the fruit and veggies you want instead of going for the fattening processed stuff.
10. You’re using your workout as an excuse to eat more
You worked out so you deserve that post-spin donut, right? Well, let’s just say it’s not going to help when it comes to losing weight. After exercising, it’s easy to reward yourself with a treat. The only problem?
While it’s fine to indulge, it’s harder than you think to burn off those extra calories: A donut, for example, could mean an hour of high-intensity training alone. S
o enjoy your workout, eat healthy, and don’t use it as an excuse to eat treats all day.
11. You’re loading up on nutrition bar
Nutrition bars are marketed to make you feel like you’re eating something healthy, but be skeptical of the type you choose. While there are great options available, there are also bars that can totally ruin your diet.
The next time you look at your label, check to make sure it contains healthy ingredients, a low amount of saturated fat and sugar, and plenty of fiber and protein, says the Cleveland Clinic. And, watch the calorie count: Some seemingly healthy options can be loaded with hundreds of extra calories.
12. You’re overeating healthy foods
Yep, it’s not just junk food you can overeat. Even though something like carrots and hummus is a great protein-packed snack, eating a whole tub while watching your favorite show on Netflix is only going to hurt you—not help you.
The same goes for other foods that are easy to overeat, like rice and peanut butter. Make sure you’re sticking to the correct portion sizes to actually see results.