No one’s weight loss journey is going to be perfect. You’ll almost certainly experience some setbacks and even weight loss plateaus. But unless you come armed with the proper knowledge, those setbacks are more likely to knock you completely off track than they are to be a mild inconvenience.
So whether you’re thinking about losing weight, are 20kg into your goal, or just lost your last 5kg, there are some critical tips you need to be aware of to set yourself up for success. I have put together this list of weight loss mistakes that are holding you back from reaching your body’s full fat-burning potential. Remember them, and then learn how to overcome them.
- You treat yourself – a little too often
If you’ve recently shed a ton of weight, you should absolutely celebrate your success… with a tall glass of water! Just kidding. Go ahead and treat yourself. You deserve it. However, if your celebrations involve many consecutive happy hours or big portions of your favourite fat and sugar-laden chocolate cakes, odds are, you’ll see the weight creep back on before you know it. Remind yourself of this sobering stat before you open a bottle of wine: alcohol can decrease your body’s fat-burning ability by up to 73 percent! Here’s a smarter way to celebrate: reward yourself with something you CAN’T put in your mouth. Examples would be massages, manicures or some new clothes or outfit. Make an effort to not use food as a reward.
- You eat the same amount, week after week
The most important concept to keep in mind after you’ve lost significant weight is “metabolic adaptation.” During weight loss, your body’s metabolism naturally slows down calorie burn on a daily basis to hang on to fat. In addition, your levels of leptin, the hunger hormone that tells your body when you’re full, actually drop after weight loss, so you may feel hungry.
The key to avoiding going back to eating the same number of calories you did before you lost weight is to double down on your awareness of calorie content and size of meals. Do that by keeping a daily food diary for a period of time after you’ve reached your weight-loss goal. Studies show that being more mindful of what you eat (and how many calories it contains) will help you to make healthier food choices and reduce snacking on calorie-dense processed foods.
- You’re not eating enough protein
Eating enough protein can keep your muscle from breaking down, but not getting enough can slow your metabolic rate. That’s because simply maintaining muscle mass will help your body burn calories faster. That way, your body will then turn to torching unwanted fat. Without muscle, you’ll be more susceptible to unwanted weight gain. Protein intake differs by the individual. However, for many people, consuming 1 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day should be enough to help you lose weight.
- You’ve removed carbs from your diet completely
While following a zero- to low-carb diet like keto can help you shed weight when you first start, these all-or-nothing type diets are hard to maintain long-term, and can ultimately set you up for weight regain. Completely slashing your carbohydrate intake will leave you with some not-so-pleasant side effects that can make it hard to go about your daily routine. Your body will start to exhibit signs of exhaustion, irritability, and lethargy—all of which have also been connected with overeating. Carbs play an important role in our daily lives, as our brain and central nervous system require them continuously to work properly. Restricting carbs completely may cause any newly added, fat-burning muscle mass to be metabolised for energy rather than carbs.
- You’re not sleeping enough
Inadequate sleep can slow your metabolism and pile on the pounds. In a recent study, researchers analysed more than 500 participants’ weekday sleep diaries and found that losing a mere 30 minutes of shut-eye increased their risk of obesity by 17 percent! Even mild sleep deprivation causes ghrelin—the hunger-stimulating hormone—to go into overdrive while simultaneously reducing levels of leptin—the hormone that suppresses appetite. In turn, this stimulates hunger even when you’re full, which can lead to overeating and weight gain.
- You don’t weigh yourself
Although the number on the scale isn’t the only way to judge your continued success, research shows that those who don’t partake in the ritual tend to pack on more weight than those who don’t. Why? The scale keeps you mindful of your diet, and it will quickly tip you off to weight regain. There’s no need to be a slave to your scale; checking in once a week should do the trick. And here’s a tip: since weight naturally fluctuates throughout the week, researchers say that Wednesday weigh-ins are the most accurate.