In Part 1, I covered five diet mistakes such as how fewer calories or very low calories do NOT guarantee weight loss. I put aside the idea that exercising or exercising more will mean faster weight loss; debunked the idea that low fat diets will guarantee less fat in your body; explained how you DO need fat, protein and carbohydrates in order for your body to function at its best; finally, that often used, and overused saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day may mean a different time of day for each person. If you haven’t already read this blog post, you can get the longer version here.
In this second part, we’ll cover five more diet myths you may be falling for.
Setting Unrealistic Expectations
Picture this: you’ve found a new diet as the magical cure to weight loss. There are promises of BIG results. You jump into it with both feet. You follow the steps; eat the required foods looking to drop 20 lbs in 2 weeks. Then, it doesn’t happen.
But, you did lose some weight so you stay with it for another few weeks. By this time, the weight is coming off, but not as fast as you’d hoped and it’s taking its toll on you. The diet program you’re following takes a lot of time in menu planning and food preparation. Since you have to buy specific groceries, the cost is climbing because you still need to feed the rest of the household the regular foods (and oh, how you wish you could eat what they’re eating too). Work is stressful and you are becoming overwhelmed. That’s when the diet is tossed out and you go back to what you were eating before – the same as the rest of the family.
There are a number of problems with this scenario but I’ll just stick to one. Setting a target of specific weight loss in a short period of time is a guaranteed recipe for ultimate failure. What every diet does NOT tell you is that their rate of success after 2 years is 2% or less.
If you’re looking for permanent weight loss, skip the lose weight fast programs. Instead make a few changes that will let you shed 10% of your weight over the course of a year. So, if you weigh 72.5 kg (160 lbs), you should aim to lose 7.3 kg (16 lbs) over the course of one year. Shedding weight gradually is your best bet for long lasting weight loss.
Overestimating Calories Burned During Exercise
You’d be amazed at how much your body needs to move in order to burn calories.
Here’s an example. Say you weigh 63.5 kg (140 lbs). You walk for 30 minutes. You’ve expended 140 calories. That’s the equivalent of only ONE of the following:
• 4 cups of air popped popcorn (no fat added)
• 1 medium apple or pear
• 42 pistachios
• 14 almonds
• 1 ½ sugar cookie without icing
Let’s try another example. This same person does 30 minutes of aerobic dancing and expends 161 calories.
That’s the equivalent of only ONE of the following:
• 70 g (2 ½ oz) of cheddar cheese
• 3 ½ slices of cooked bacon
• 354 ml (12 oz) orange juice
• 118 ml (4 oz) plain cheese tortellini (no sauce, oil or butter )
Exercising does NOT mean that you can eat more. However, the benefits of exercising are many so, please be sure to MOVE IT.
Not eating enough protein
In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned that everyone has individual needs when it comes to getting the right combination of carbohydrates, fat and protein. However, many people do not get enough protein. It’s important to get enough because it can reduce appetite, increase your feelings of fullness, which likely leads to eating less. It also protects muscle mass during weight loss. I talked about the body using the energy stored in muscle before using fat in Part 1?
Let’s be very clear. Protein DOES NOT only come from meat, dairy, fish and seafood. There is also protein in plants. So, don’t think that you should load up on animal products in order to get the daily protein requirements. The body can only process 20 – 30 gram (.7 – 1.0 oz) of protein at one time and what you ingest should be 10% – 35% of your daily intake. There is a range because 10% will be enough for some, whereas others will need 35% for optimal health.
Here are a few examples of plants rich in protein:
• Soy, and soy-based products including tempeh and tofu (8 – 16 g per serving)
• Lentils (9 g per 118 ml/½ cup serving)
• Beans (7.3 – 7.6 g per 118 ml/ ½ cup serving)
• Peanuts and peanut butter (7 g per 57 g/ ¼ cup serving and 30 ml / 2 tablespoons)
• Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) (6 g per 118 ml/½ cup serving)
• Nuts and seeds (5 – 6 g per serving)
• Potatoes (4 g in 1 medium white potato)
When you combine food, it’s possible to get the right amount of protein to keep you fueled.
One Bad Eating Decision Isn’t The End
Have you done this? You’re on a diet and have been religiously following the rules until…
Fill in the rest of the story and I can almost guarantee that the end is that the diet rules were tossed out the window for the rest of the day, week, month, or forever.
First, stop thinking about food being good or bad. It’s just food. If you ate something outside of the diet rules and enjoyed it, then think of it as allowing yourself a small indulgence and move on.
The main reason we love and sometimes crave certain foods is that eating them releases dopamine into the brain. Dopamine is your “feel good” hormone. Depriving yourself of every food you love will make you miserable, angry and will make you crave the food. The more you resist, the greater the craving.
Instead of depriving yourself, allow the occasional indulgence. If you’re the type to eat an entire family-sized bag of potato chips, then allow yourself the occasional single serving size.
Rather than milk chocolate, eat dark chocolate instead. Yes, it does take some getting used to. You’ll also need to try different brands to discover whose formulation you like best.
Bottom line: control how much and how often you eat the treat and you should be fine.
Watch for the Saboteurs
I’d just started a diet program when I had to pick up my daughter from a birthday party. Of course, I was offered a slice of cake thick with icing, which I declined. The offer was made again and quite insistently thereafter, even when I explained that I had just started on the weight loss program. This was offered by a relative stranger so it was easy to remain firm.
Now, imagine that it’s your nana offering you a slice of cake she made. How could you refuse nana? I doubt that your grandmother is trying to sabotage your diet attempts. But there will be situations where you’ll encounter people who will have strong opinions as to what you should do and how you should eat. These comments may not be in your own best interest. Misery loves company and sometimes that misery shows up in people trying to stop you from making the changes that you know are right for you. They may fear the impact that your changes will have on their own self-esteem and on their relationship to you.
If you can, avoid the people who will discourage you in your attempts to make better eating choices. They may not even realize that their comments are hurtful and if they do, then why are you hanging out with them?
So, there you have it. Five more diet mistakes to avoid. I’ll be covering a few more in Part 3, the last of this series in my next blog post.
Have you encountered similar situations? I’d love to hear about your experiences and how you handled them. Please feel free to comment below or to send your story to [email protected] .