Losing weight isn’t easy and dieters often fail multiple times before getting it right.
The reasons are multifaceted. Many assume that exercise will solve the weight-loss dilemma — it won’t — or that fat will make you fat. Wrong again.
Here are five reasons your diet may be doomed:
1. Counting calories, but not eating real food
Calories from refined carbohydrates and sugar cause you to eat more, without feeling satisfied. Calories from healthy fats, fiber rich sources, and protein, however are metabolized differently and more likely to lead to effective weight loss. Author Michael Pollen defined “food” as “something that comes from nature, was fed from nature, and will eventually rot.”
2. Starting the day with carbohydrates
Cereal, toast with jam, or a big glass of OJ are breakfast staples, but studies show that starting the day with protein, instead of sugary carbohydrates leads to reduced hunger and cravings later in the day. Aim for at least 15 grams of high quality protein in the morning, such as plain yogurt with mixed nuts and hempseed, a plant based protein shake, scrambled eggs, or nut butter on sprouted bread.
3. Not getting enough sleep
Sleep is glorious, and the benefits of getting enough of it are numerous. Studies show clear associations between a lack of sleep with overeating, weight gain, and obesity. If you’re struggling with your weight loss efforts, getting at least 8 hours a sleep a night may make all the difference.
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4. Eating when not hungry
We often eat because we are bored, stressed, tired, thirsty, or simply because our favorite show is on. Instead, we should view food as fuel, not entertainment. I advise my patients to put themselves on a hunger scale with 1 being starving and 10 being stuffed. Only at a 3 or a 4 should they eat, and they should stop at 5 or 6. Listening to your hunger isn’t always easy, but master it and your chances of weight loss go up.
5.Hanging with the wrong crowd
One study found that individuals that had successfully lost weight were frequently met with challenges with friends, family and co-workers who undermined weight-loss efforts. In response, they would regain the weight.
A recent study found that Americans might be less likely to attempt weight loss due to simply giving up after many attempts or increasing “fat acceptance” in the United States. A recent study found that people had a hard time sticking to a diet when eating out or simply eating with friends.
Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, R.D., is the manager of wellness nutrition services at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute in Cleveland, Ohio, and the author of "Skinny Liver." Follow her on Twitter@KristinKirkpat. For more diet and fitness advice, sign up for our One Small Thing newsletter.