Weight loss – or, more accurately, fat loss — is a goal for most of us. The simple formula is to eat less and exercise more at the fitness center, right? But it isn’t always that simple, especially if there are bad eating habits and faulty nutritional mindsets getting in between you and your fitness goals. Consider these food-related obstacles to lasting weight loss. Are you letting any of them get in your way?
1. Hidden dalories
Maybe you’ve been more conscious about what you eat, but are you accounting for every source of calories? Carbonated beverages, gourmet espressos, health smoothies, and even sports drinks are a common source of un-counted calories that could be hindering your weight loss.
Another calorie-adding category we tend to overlook is sauces and dressings, especially if they’re added while we prepare our food. Unfortunately, they also tend to be high in fat, sugars, and artificial ingredients. Watch for these and other hidden calorie sources that could be sabotaging your best-laid plans.
2. Eating a Carb-heavy breakfast
For many people, a bagel and a cup of coffee are the go-to breakfast standard. Regardless of the calories you’re consuming (maybe the bagel is a “healthy” whole-wheat bagel without cream cheese), eating a carbohydrates-heavy meal can have a negative effect on your body and your eating habits the rest of the day. Refined carbs, like those found in ready-made bread products, spike and then crash blood sugar levels rather than providing a steady burn. Chances are, this kind of breakfast won’t last you until lunch, and will leave you feeling tired, sluggish, and hungry.
Balance healthy carbs (with preference for vegetable and fruit sources) with protein for longer-lasting energy that will keep you from grabbing that 10 a.m. doughnut and help you reach your weight loss goals.
3. Fad diets
Impatience with a healthy rate of weight loss can lead some people to jump on the fad diet bandwagon to speed up their results. This is never a good strategy, because fad diets aren’t easy to maintain over the long run. You may have success losing weight while you’re on one of these diets, but as soon as you return to more normal eating habits, the weight will come back.
If you’re having trouble identifying fad diets, be wary of anything that cuts out entire food categories, is extremely portion controlled, or otherwise seems unbalanced. A good diet will be manageable and flexible, long-term. However, the best strategy is to focus on eating for health first and weight loss second.
4. Underestimating how many calories you’re eating
While excessive calorie restriction isn’t healthy, refusing to be aware of how many calories you’re consuming can also stall your weight loss goals. If you prefer not to count calories, at least be familiar with calorie counts for the everyday foods and portion sizes you consume (even low-calorie foods add up if you’re eating too much of them!). Counting your calories even one time can be eye-opening.
Many fitness professionals recommend keeping track of your calorie intake (and calorie out-put through exercise) using a fitness tracker or app. This takes out the guesswork and makes it easier to hold yourself accountable, even on the go.
Don’t let these four food-related weight loss obstacles keep you from reaching your weight loss and fitness goals. Be aware of what you eat, but strive for balance and nutrition above all else. As you change your habits, you’ll also change your perspectives on food, health, and fitness for the better.