Surprising Reasons Why You’re Not Losing Weight
Are you watching what you eat but still struggling to lose weight? Audra Wilson, RD, a clinical dietitian with the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital, says you could be sabotaging your weight loss with these six pitfalls.
Juice cleanses are very high in sugar and low in protein. Increased intake of sugar can cause weight gain, and protein deficiency can lead to muscle breakdown. “Severely restricting your calories can also lead to bingeing in the long run,” says Wilson. “Your body cleanses itself through your liver and kidneys, so no extra help is necessary or effective.”
“Saving Up” Your Calories
While you may think skipping a few meals will decrease your total calorie intake, it usually leads to overeating at your next meal or increased snacking throughout the day. “Skipping meals can slow down your metabolism, which is the opposite of what we are striving for with weight loss,” says Wilson. “Eating a meal or snack containing protein every four or five hours can help keep your metabolism humming and hunger at bay.”
Fad diets are just that: fads. They go in and out of style, but the mechanism is usually the same — limiting total calorie intake. If these diets work, the results are short term. The minute you go off of the diet, you’ll put back on the pounds. “Be wary of any diet that instructs you to cut out an entire category of food,” says Wilson. “This can prevent you from getting all of the nutrition you need. A better strategy would be to work with a dietitian to develop a plan to reduce calories while still meeting all of your nutritional needs.”
Messed Up Math
According to Wilson, people typically underestimate their calorie intake by about 30 percent. These extra calories can add up fast: That’s an extra 600 calories a day for a person eating what they think is 2,000 calories daily. “Smartphone apps can more accurately track calorie counts and help you make better choices when grocery shopping or eating out,” says Wilson. Tracking the calories you eat each day can also help you to be more mindful of the choices you make. Taking an extra moment to stop and consider the food you are about to eat can push you in the healthier direction.
Snacks Are Saboteurs in Disguise
You’re eating five oranges a day to keep the flu away or snacking on low-calorie pretzels in between meals. Great plan, right? Maybe not. “As a dietitian, I’m surprised to find that many of my patients do not realize that fruits are carbohydrates,” says Wilson. “Carbohydrates are a necessary part of a healthy diet, but overeating any one nutrient can lead to weight gain.” Foods like pretzels and crackers are processed carbohydrates that will quickly raise and then drop your blood sugar, leading to intense hunger. Instead, choose snacks that are high in protein, like yogurt and low-fat string cheese, and snacks that are low-carb and low-calorie, such as vegetables. It’s much harder to overeat broccoli than popcorn or berries!
You Haven’t Asked Yourself an Important Question
Are you actually hungry? Or are you just eating because it’s “time to eat” or there is food sitting in front of you? “We are bombarded with food everywhere in our culture, and it can mess with our hunger and satiety cues,” says Wilson. “The next time you are reaching for that after-dinner treat, think of this mantra: If you’re hungry, eat an apple. If you don’t want the apple, you’re not hungry.” Chances are, if an apple doesn’t sound good to you, the hunger is not coming from your body’s need for more nutrition but rather habit or an emotional need.
The Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Northwestern Medicine Delnor Hospital has earned national accreditation as a Comprehensive Center under the Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery Accreditation and Quality Improvement Program (MBSAQIP®). The program offers numerous resources for behavior modification and ongoing motivation, including medically supervised classes, support groups, meal plans, exercise programs, mental health services and yearly medical visits.