3 ‘Healthy’ Habits That Are Sabotaging Your Weight Loss

Conventional wisdom says adopting healthy lifestyle changes — like cleaning up your diet, spending more time in the gym, and going to sleep a few hours earlier — will help you lose weight, because doing something is better than doing nothing at all, right?The problem is, what works for someone else may not always work for you. There is no singular answer to weight loss, but some habits can set you back more than others, even when you have the best of intentions.Here, the “healthy” strategies that might prevent you from losing as much weight as you could, and what you should do to shed pounds instead.

DOWNSIZING YOUR PORTIONS DRAMATICALLY

Sticking to proper portion sizes will help you lose weight, but if you cut them down too drastically too quickly, your hunger hormone ghrelin will spike, signaling to your brain that you’re not full. At the same time, your body won’t produce as much of the satiety hormone leptin.

The result? “You’ll end up in a perpetual state of ‘starvation mode,’ which often results in overeating followed by the subsequent feelings of guilt, shame, or failure from not following your diet,” explains metabolic training expert Nathan Trenteseaux, owner of Underground Fitness Revolution in Florida.

Try this: If you want to reduce your portion sizes the right way, you need a balanced ratio of protein, vegetables, and healthy fats to feel satisfied for the 3 to 5 hours in between your daily meals.

Aim for at least 25 grams of lean protein per meal, ideally at least 30 if muscle gain is your goal. If you need to eyeball it, protein should make up roughly a quarter of your plate, says Karen Ansel, M.S., R.D.N., author of Healing Superfoods for Anti-Aging. The other quarter of your plate should contain fiber-rich whole grains, while the rest — about half your plate — should be loaded with vegetables.

OPTING FOR LOW-FAT FOODS

“Any time a food is listed as low-fat, the food manufacturers have replaced the fat with sugars or other potentially harmful chemicals and additives,” Trenteseaux says, meaning they’ll typically pack more empty calories than their full-fat counterparts. “In addition, your body needs healthy fats for a number of processes, including hormone production, brain function, and, yes, even fat loss.”

That’s because fat is a super satiating nutrient, so it will help you feel fuller, longer. It’s true, eating too much of it can contribute to weight gain (it clocks in at 9 calories per gram) — but going overboard on any food, including those heavy in carbs and protein, will pile on the pounds, too.

Try this: “The only fat you should avoid is trans fats, which are found in processed foods containing partially hydrogenated oils,” says Trenteseaux, like chips, cookies, and crackers. The FDA does not recognize trans fats as safe, since they are associated with a higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, according to the American Heart Association.

Instead, focus on eating whole foods that contain healthy fats. This includes grass-fed meats, wild fish like salmon, whole eggs, raw nuts, avocados, and full-fat dairy products like raw cheese, plain Greek yogurt, kefir, and cottage cheese.

FUELING UP WITH ENERGY BARS AND SPORTS DRINKS

Energy bars and sports drinks may seem like a great go-to snack, but they’re really only necessary for exercise lasting 90 minutes or longer.

“Most men typically spend 60 minutes or less training and burn, on average, 250 to 500 calories during that time depending on the mode of exercise chosen,” Trenteseaux says. “Loading up on sports drinks and energy bars can negate all the calories burned during exercise,” he says, which can halt your fat loss.

Plus, most energy bars are just candy bars in disguise, packing in empty calories and added sugar. The same goes for sports drinks.

 

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