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5 sneaky ways women gain weight

It's easy to put on a few pounds without noticing. Here are a few common mistakes you might be making.
/ Source: TODAY

A lot of us struggle with our weight, and if you don't weigh yourself regularly — it's easy to unexpectedly gain a few pounds here and there. It happens to the best of us.

Here are the most common habits that lead to sneaky weight gain, and what you can do to prevent it.

1. Being a cardio queen

Many women do a lot of cardio to break a sweat and think they’re burning a ton of calories, but in reality, this is an ineffective way to lose substantial weight and build muscle.

Instead of going on a cardio machine for 30 minutes or an hour (and even worse, going slow enough that you’re able to read a magazine!), do cardio bursts in between strength training.

When cardio is combined with strength training, you’re able to burn more calories and fat, keep your heart rate up and build lean muscle mass — all at the same time. According to research, cardio bursts are very effective for weight loss when mixed in to your workouts.

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Strength training causes your body to continue burning fat after your workout and even while you’re sleeping, whereas cardio exercise only burns calories while you’re actually exercising.

2. Eating while you work

If you’re eating in front of your computer screen, your attention is not fully focused on your food and how you’re feeling, so overeating is more likely. Studies show that mindful eating is key for weight maintenance and weight loss.

What exactly does that mean? Being present with your food, appreciating it and monitoring how full your stomach feels. While it’s good to eat small snacks throughout the day at work, try to be more present while eating. Give yourself at least 60 seconds to taste and enjoy a bite. Remember to chew slowly.

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3. Not watching your portions

Speaking of mindful munching while at work, snacking throughout the day should be consciously portion-controlled. By paying a little more attention to how much food you’re eating, you'll lose weight and feel lighter and less stuffed throughout the day.

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For example, an apple and almond butter is a great snack, but its healthiness can get sabotaged if you’re not measuring out an actual serving size of the almond butter. If you’re dipping pieces of apple into a container of almond butter, you’re more likely to overeat than if you’d measured out two tablespoons (one serving) and put it on a plate.

4. Unnecessary nut butter

Speaking of almond butter, adding nut butters to smoothies is a great way to add extra protein. However, if you’re using protein powder and nut butter, and you’re trying to lose weight, you may not realize that a serving of your average nut butters contains about 150 calories.

In fact, some smoothies that are deemed “healthy” because they’re made with healthy ingredients can actually contain almost 1000 calories, which is double the size of a meal. If you’re already using a protein powder in your smoothies, you can cut out the nut butter.

5. Eating too much protein

A serving size for a piece of fish or meat is about the size of your first, but many restaurants tend to serve larger cuts. According to the American Heart Association, two to three ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry or fish is the serving size to remember. If you order a six-ounce steak, it’s just about double the serving size of protein needed for a meal.

When you’re at home making your own meals, use your fist to measure. While lean proteins are very healthy and research shows that getting enough protein is important for weight loss and weight maintenance you may be eating one and a half or even two times the portion size at one meal.

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Keep in mind that in general, the CDC recommends that an average adult woman consumes 46 grams of protein per day, and sometimes more. So while protein is important, pay attention to how much you’re eating, and make sure to space it out throughout the day.

Eating protein throughout the day, being mindful of how you’re feeling while you’re eating, and adding in strength training to your cardio workouts creates a recipe for success in terms of losing weight and keeping it off!

Stephanie Mansour is a weight-loss and lifestyle coach for women. Join her weight-loss challenge here!