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November 25, 2021

Avoidable Common Weight Loss Mistakes

Common Weight Loss Mistakes

To lose weight you will want to avoid common weight loss mistakes. Simple enough, right?

common weight loss mistakes
photo courtesy of Pixabay

The single biggest challenge to obtaining good health is losing weight. To complicate things, there is no one-size fits all program out there.  So weight loss becomes a trial and error proposition for many of us. But, there is one key to all successful weight loss programs. They all eliminate unhealthy carbs.

Unhealthy carbs are high glycemic carbs. These are carbs that cause an excessive release of insulin. Insulin is the fattening hormone. Any successful weight loss program will keep insulin levels from being excessive. But, even if you avoid high glycemic carbs, you can thwart your weight loss efforts in other ways.

Below are common mistakes that will sabotage your weight loss efforts. You may be guilty of some of them which may be why you find yourself not losing your desired weight.

Common Weight Loss Mistakes

  1. Not exercising.
  2. Relying only on the bathroom scale to monitor your progress.
  3. Eating too many unknown sugars.
  4. Striving for a consistent daily calorie deficit.
  5. Not eating enough protein.
  6. Not eating enough fiber.

We have discussed these mistakes in many of our previous posts and will link to some of them during the course of this discussion.

Not Exercising

Now, when it comes to weight loss, the biggest bang for the buck comes on the dietary side and not the exercise side. The average size person can run a marathon and burn the equivalency of just two-thirds of a pound during the marathon. Well, if that’s true, why even exercise? There are a couple of answers to that question.

Exercise maintains your basal metabolic rate. The higher your basal metabolic rate, the more calories you burn. To lose weight you must create a calorie deficit. Creating a calorie deficit creates challenges, though. Creating a sustained calorie deficit will cause your body to lower its metabolic rate making further weight loss more difficult. This is a built-in protective mechanism.

During a prolonged period of calorie-deficit eating, the body senses it is being starved and will try to conserve calories by lowering its metabolic rate. Exercise combats this lowering of the metabolic rate.

Exercise has another benefit especially when resistance or weight training is employed. Muscle burns more calories than fat. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you will burn – even when at rest. It is possible to build muscle while losing fat and this can mislead and frustrate you when you step on the bathroom scale.

Relying Only on the Bathroom Scale

We have been conditioned to measure things to determine whether we are progressing towards a worthy goal or not. Obviously, weighing yourself makes sense if you are trying to gain or lose weight, but weighing only provides an incomplete picture. Our real goal in losing weight is to lose body fat.

It is body fat that we should measure. Unfortunately, there is not an easy way to do that, though some bathroom scales now provide a close proximation of your body fat, We think it is wise to invest in one of these scales.

A pound of muscle is more dense than a pound of fat meaning it occupies less space. In fact, it is about three times more dense.  So you can lose five pounds of fat and gain five pounds of muscle (weight training and increased protein intake) and the bathroom scale does not change, but your body fat will go down and you are a step close to better health.

Now if you lose five pounds of fat and gain five pounds of muscle, you will look different and your clothes will fit differently because you will be smaller in size – even though your weight has not changed.

This is winded attempt to say this. Pay attention to how your clothes fit. Doing so will provide additional information to what the scale says. A good rule of thumb is this. You lose an inch in your waist for every 7 pounds of fat you lose. And, that’s another useful measurement.  Measuring and tracking your waistline periodically.

Eating Too Many Unknown Sugars

As we reviewed in It’s Still Sugar: Don’t Be Fooled By the Many Names of Sugar, sugar is hidden in many processed foods under many different names. Do think those nutrition bars are healthy? They may not be as many of them contain excessive amounts of sugars. Read the label and familiarize yourself the many names of sugar. Watch out for excessive sugars in sports drinks, too and avoid all sugary soft drinks.

Striving For a Consistent Daily Calorie Deficit

A pound is roughly 3,500 calories and since there are seven days in a week, it is commonly advise to create a deficit of 500 calories a day in order to lose one pound a week. Losing 1-2 pounds a week is considered healthy and safe. However, this consistent calorie deficit day after day will lead the body to lower its basal metabolic rate.

What you want to do instead is create a 3,500 calorie deficit for the week, but by fluctuating, sometimes significantly, your day to day caloric intake. Let’s say to lose a pound in a week you need to consume 14,000 calories (2,000 calories a day) for the week.

Your day to day calorie intake make look this over 7 days: 1,000 calories day one,  2,500 calories day two, 1,500 calories day three, 2,200 calories day four, 2,400 calories day five, 1,800 calories day six, and 2,600 calories day seven. This comes to 14,000 calories. But you significantly at few calories two days and ate more than the average of 2,000 calories/day on four of the days, while eating the 2,000 average calories on just one day.

Doing this up and down intake keeps the body guessing and it will not lower its metabolic rate. It’s only in the past 100 years or so that we have constant access to food. Prior to refrigeration and processed foods our ancestors might gorge for a day or two, and then eat slim pickings for a few days. They were not consuming a steady influx of calories daily like we do.

Fluctuate your daily calorie intake and consider fasting anywhere from one day a week to one day a month. Read our article, Zig Zag Your Way to Easy Weight Loss.

Not Eating Enough Protein

The thing you want avoid with any weight loss program is losing lean body mass. This means you need to consume enough protein in y0ur meal plan. Losing lean body or muscle mass will only make you weaker and feeling tire. Plus, many hormones and immune factors require protein for optimal function.  Protein reduces appetite by providing a feeling of satiety, increases metabolic rate, in addition to building muscle.

A healthy goal is to consume 25 grams of protein with each major meal and 10-20 grams with each in between meal snacks. Another rule of thumb is 1 gram of protein for 2 pounds of body weight. See our article, What is My Daily Protein Requirement?

Not Eating Enough Fiber

Like protein, fiber reduces appetite by making you feel full. It slows movement of food through the GI tract and decreases the number of calories absorbed as food passes through the GI tract. Men should strive for 30-40 grams of fiber a day and women around 25 grams if fiber daily. Fiber has several other health benefits, too as outlined in What Fiber Can Do forYou. 

If you are struggling with weight, see if you might be making of these six common weight loss mistakes.



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Dr. Joe Jacko

Dr. Joe is board certified in internal medicine and sports medicine with additional training in hormone replacement therapy and regenerative medicine. He has trained or practiced at leading institutions including the Hughston Clinic, Cooper Clinic, Steadman-Hawkins Clinic of the Carolinas, and Cenegenics. He currently practices in Columbus, Ohio at Grandview Primary Care. Read more about Dr. Joe Jacko

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