Dietitians wish you'd be doing these 11 things while trying to lose weight.

 To begin, take a step away from the scale.

You could be sabotaging yourself without even realizing it if you've done anything and still can't seem to lose the last few pounds. Here are 11 common weight-loss blunders that dietitians see all the time, along with what you can do instead.

1. You're consuming less calories.

Isn't it true that if you want to lose weight, what you have to do is eat less and exercise more? That's incorrect. This, according to dietitians, is one of the most common errors people make. Alix Turoff, MS, RD, CDN, CPT, registered dietitian and personal trainer at Alix Turoff Nutrition, says, "I see this all the time." It's not only about eating less, but also about what happens afterward. "At meals, people eat too little, feel unsatisfied, and then binge or overeat later."


Instead, she recommends concentrating on having enough calories to fuel the body at each meal. "Make sure you get a mix of protein, fat, and carbohydrates inside those calories to keep you full, help regulate your blood sugar, and keep cravings at bay."

Calorie Counting Isn't Necessary: Here Are 7 Ways to Eat Healthier Instead

According to Allison Knott, MS, RDN, CSSD, a dietitian at ANEW Well in New York City, the "feed less" mantra is sadly applicable to fruits and vegetables as well, and that you should be consuming more produce, not less. "Eating more plants has been linked to a lower risk of chronic disease and has been shown to help with weight maintenance and loss," Knott explains. "This may be due to the fiber and water content of plants, which is vital for satiety."


Although cutting calories "can work for a short period of time," says Laura Krebs-Holm, MS RD LD,When weight loss plateaus, people believe they need to keep cutting calories... often as low as 800-1,000 a day!" This is not a long-term solution.



Salad with White Beans and Veggies (pictured above)

Katie Andrews, MS, RDN, CDN, dietitian and owner of Wellness by Katie in Connecticut, wishes her clients would eat more during the day "I always persuade people that the first step to losing weight is to ensure that they have a balanced metabolism, which cannot work properly while you're on a calorie-restricted diet. This causes the body to store energy (aka fat) rather than burn it! So, to ensure even energy distribution and satiety, make sure you're eating enough calories during the day, with the right amount of protein, fat, and fiber. And yes, more food could be on the way!"


2. You're dividing foods into "healthy" and "poor" categories.

Cast-Iron Skillet Pizza with Sausage and Kale (shown)

People frequently limit foods they perceive as "poor" in addition to overall calorie intake, but Lauren Smith, MS, RD, LDN, dietitian and owner of Sorority Nutritionist, advises against "cutting out fun foods to lose weight like pizza, ice cream, and Starbucks lattes."


"You don't have to give up just one food to lose weight," she explains, "because one food doesn't trigger weight gain or loss; it's your habits and how many calories you eat regularly."

Melanie Wong, MA, RDN, agrees with this advice "When it comes to losing weight, one thing I wish people would stop doing is severely restricting their diets and not allowing themselves to consume foods they like or foods that have special significance in their lives. Rather than missing out on celebratory foods like birthday cake, spread them out during the day and stick to a well-balanced diet afterward."

3. You're in desperate need of a fast fix.

There are many fad diets out there, but none of them succeed in the long run. So, instead of following fads, Abby Naely, MA, RD, LD advises, "work on losing weight in a safe and balanced way."


Denise Fields, RDN, CSO, founder of DF Nutrition & Wellness, says, "Many people believe they can adjust their habits and lose weight overnight." This mindset stems from a tradition of dieting, which provides fast fixes but does not result in long-term weight loss.


"I have seen so many people make dramatic dietary changes and adopt a restrictive diet in order to lose weight, but most of the time this form of approach leads to weight gain," says Julie Andrews, MS, RDN, CD, chef and dietitian.deprivation and an unhealthy diet relationship The most important piece of advice I can offer is to be careful when attempting to lose weight and to adopt a well-balanced approach that you can maintain for the rest of your life."

According to Fields, this entails setting practical weight targets. "Then you have to schedule out your meals, go to the grocery store, and meal prep," she says. When it comes to meals, many people are not used to preparing ahead. "It takes time for this practice to become a habit, but it is critical for eating healthy and losing weight," she says.

Work with a dietitian to help you create new meal-preparation and weight-loss habits.

(And, while you're waiting, sign up for ThePrep's newsletter for meal prep tips and tricks!)

4. You're putting so much emphasis on the number on the scale.


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When you say you want to lose weight, you are most likely referring to fat loss. Remember that the amount on the scale includes not just the weight of your fat, but also the weight of your muscles, bones, blood, skin, and so on—everything in your body! Despite this, the scale receives a lot of attention. "Stop concentrating on the number on the scale!" advises Meridith Fargnoli, RD. "Success isn't always a straight line. Take measurements, photographs of before and afters, and a personal inventory of how you feel—all of these items can carry more weight (pun intended) than a number on a scale!"

If you want to lose weight, you're clearly focusing on the end result. But, dietitians often see clients that are more focused on the end result rather than the habits that will help them maintain the results in the long run.


Lindsay Oar, MS, RD, LDN, a success dietitian, says, "Too often, I hear my clients (even my personal family members and friends) concentrate too much on the end "result." "Their target weight is all that matters to them, and once they achieve it, they veer off track and revert to their old bad habits. Maybe it was a wedding, a holiday, or a New Year's resolution that prompted them to make those changes, but once they've accomplished it, they lose incentive to keep going."

Root Nutrition & Education's Jeanette Kimszal, RDN, NLC, agrees "People can become so concentrated on the end result that they can become stressed out about the smallest details. If they do not manage their tension, it can have an effect on their weight loss goals. Many of my clients are concerned about losing weight as a way to feeling better about themselves. However, if someone does not have a positive self-esteem before losing weight, they will not have a positive self-image after losing weight. During weight loss, it is important to maintain a positive outlook, which can be achieved by complimenting oneself on their accomplishments."

"Please don't believe you have to hate yourself before you hit your 'ideal weight,'" says Kristi Coughlin, MS, RDN, author of Effect Positivity. "Learning to love yourself is just as important, if not more important, than improving your eating habits."

5. You're keeping track of your calories.

When it comes to calorie counting, dietitians have differing opinions. RDN, CD, CYT Sarah A. Moore wishes people weren't so afraid of it. "Numerous studies have shown that counting calories can help people lose weight."


Although Knott believes calorie tracking can be beneficial, he also believes it should not be used as the "end-all-be-all" of a weight-loss journey, as many people do. "Using apps to monitor only calories is likely to lead to decisions based solely on calories, while also ignoring the overall eating pattern," says the author.Knott agrees. "It's important to remember that calories are only one way to quantify a meal, and that many other nutrients in food have a huge effect on overall health as well as mental and physical satisfaction."

She points out that calorie-counting apps can also have unrealistically low calorie goals. "Relying solely on a calorie-tracking app will result in missing hunger or fullness cues," says one of the main drawbacks. You'll eat more one day and less the next if you pay attention to hunger and fullness, and you'll rarely reach the exact amount the app recommends. Remember that our bodies aren't machines, and our levels of hunger and fullness can vary based on a number of factors.Based on a number of factors such as physical activity, stress, sleep, and more. Trust your instincts and keep in mind that an app is only one (optional) tool in a larger toolbox."

6. You eat every 2 to 3 hours.

6. You eat every 2 to 3 hours. Forget about eating 5-6 small meals a day to lose weight. According to Megan Kober, RD and owner of Nutrition Addiction, eating every 2-3 hours is a good idea "causes us to be constantly thinking about food, and when we consume small meals that don't satisfy us, we're much more likely to overeat later in the day. Food anxiety can be exacerbated by thinking about food all day. We should be able to stay full for at least 4 hours after eating."

So, if you're still hungry, what should you do? Take a closer look at your meals, then. You might need to eat more (see #1), and make sure you're getting enough fiber, protein, and healthy fats to stay satisfied.
7. You're giving up sleep.

Kober frequently observes her clients depriving themselves of sleep in order to go to the gym, which she does not recommend for weight loss. She says, "You have to earn your right to go to the gym in the morning by sleeping at least 7 hours." "Turn off the alarm clock if you don't! When you sleep, your body produces leptin and ghrelin (the satiety and hunger hormones), so if you don't get enough, you'll be hungry the next day. In addition to being stressful on the body, sleep deprivation can cause inflammation."

6 Sleep Habits That Can Help You Lose Weight (Related)
8. What you're doing is cardio.
Cardio 5-6 days a week is based on the myth that if you consume more calories than you eat, you'll lose weight. However, you've already found that this isn't the case.

There are many explanations for this. First, evidence indicates that exercise alone does not contribute to weight loss; instead, it is necessary to change your diet. Second, aerobic exercises like running and spinning make people hungry, and it's difficult to lose weight when you're hungry. When you combine this with calorie restriction, losing weight becomes much more difficult.
When you exercise, you still subconsciously feel like you should eat more. "People always feel entitled to eat more after cardiovascular exercise," says Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, CEO and founder of F-Factor. "People appear to overestimate calories burned in the gym and underestimate their caloric consumption, which negates any calories burned."


"Instead, use cardio for mood-boosting effects, heart health, and other benefits, and supplement weight loss efforts with diet and weight-resistant operation," she advises.Walking 30 minutes several times a week, high-intensity exercise 1-2 times a week, and strength training 3-4 times a week are all recommended. "The more lean muscle you have, the higher your metabolism would be because lean body mass burns calories even when it is at rest," Zuckerbrot explains. "Unlike cardio, strength training allows you to continue burning calories even after you've finished working out." You also get the lean, toned appearance that most people want while attempting to lose weight. Learn why strength training is so beneficial to your fitness and weight loss goals.

9. You're reducing the carb intake.
Lemon Chicken Pasta is the recipe shown above.

Dietitians wish you would stop eliminating all carbohydrates without first learning about the various forms and how they affect your body. While both sugar and fiber are carbohydrates, they are digested in different ways. "Cutting carbs out is a problem since fiber, the most effective tool for weight loss, is only present in carbs," Zuckerbrot explains.

Carbohydrates are also the body's preferred energy source. According to Zuckerbrot, the problem isn't that we eat too many carbohydrates, but that we eat too many of them. After your body has used up all of the energy it needs, it retains the rest as fat. "While some high-carb foods aren't ideal for weight loss (think candy bars, ice cream, or pastries with added fats) and some high-carb foods have no nutritional benefit (bagels, white rice), many higher-carb foods can help with weight loss," says Jennifer Singh, RD, LDN.

That is, the ones that contain fiber. According to Zuckerbrot, "Fiber is the non-digestible, zero-calorie component of a carbohydrate that adds bulk to food. When fiber is consumed, it causes the stomach to swell. As a result, when you eat a high-fiber diet, you'll feel complete after each meal and eat less during the day, resulting in weight loss."Cutting carbs completely, on the other hand, leaves you "tired, cranky, shaky, and lethargic," according to Zuckerbrot. "These emotions can lead to binge eating and a sense of deprivation, all of which can sabotage weight loss attempts."

"Fiber absorbs and eliminates fat and calories, as well as increasing metabolism," Zuckerbrot explains. "Fiber helps you to eat carbohydrates without adding weight while still allowing your body to burn fat for energy. To enjoy the weight-loss and health-and-wellness benefits of fiber, aim for 35 grams or more a day." Fiber is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds (these 10 foods have more fiber than an apple).Try Our 1,500-Calorie, High-Fiber Meal Plan for 7 Days
10. You're overlooking the fundamentals.
It's easy to get caught up in all the fad diets and lose sight of the fundamentals that, according to science, contribute to long-term results—things like having half your plate vegetables, 1/4 protein, and 1/4 whole grains. Anyone can lose weight, but only those who hold it off for a long time maintain the improvements. So, if you can't keep doing what you're doing indefinitely, you won't see results indefinitely."I like to advise my clients to concentrate on the basics," says Oar, "healthy plates with plenty of color from fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, beans, legumes, and plenty of water." "Allow those fundamentals to direct you (while exercising and maintaining a caloric deficit to lose weight), but place a greater emphasis on food quality and behavior change. We want to reach and sustain our target weight!"And instead of focusing on what you can't get, think about what you can. Caitlin Beale, MS, RDN, says, "I try very hard to concentrate on what we can add rather than what we can take away food-wise." "At each meal, alter your meal patterns, food composition, and balanced fat/protein/carb ratios. Focus on rethinking the balance of meals and snacks rather than limiting yourself."

11. You're giving yourself bad advice.

Chocolate-Covered Banana Ice Cream Bars (pictured above)

Last but not least, you might be saying things to yourself that are sabotaging your efforts. "Stop saying things like 'I just eat this in moderation,'" Kimberly Leneghan MS RDN LDN advises. "Moderation might just be a fancier way of explaining a potentially bad option if the scale isn't moving."
Stop implying that fatty foods are off-limits as well. "This mentality also backfires because we prefer to stress about the item we've said we'll never consume, which can lead to a binge," Julia Stevens, MPH, RDN, CPT, explains. "Instead of thinking, 'I'll never eat that,' say, 'I can eat that, but I'm not going to eat it today.'This language makes space in your strategy for all foods while still giving you the power to choose moderation while also getting closer to your target."

The Bottom Line

There is no easy cure for losing weight. Many that are good at losing weight and keeping it off in the long run develop a daily eating routine. Eat more of the right ingredients, not fewer. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats and plant-based proteins, fish, nuts, and seeds are all good sources of metabolism-boosting fiber and protein.

Reduce your cardio and increase your strength training. Instead of focusing on the number on the scale, consider your attitudes, activities, and habits. It's important to maintain a calorie deficit, and tracking calories will help, but don't make it the be-all and end-all. Focus on your appetite and satiety signals, and try to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Obtain 7-8Get at least eight hours of sleep each night and use constructive self-talk. Finally, don't be afraid to seek assistance. Make an appointment with a dietitian that will assist you in developing healthy habits and staying on track with your goals.

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