Weight loss can seem like a daunting goal. Despite eating well and exercising, many struggle to see results.
There are several common nutrition and fitness mistakes that can hold you back from reaching your weight loss goals.
While some end up following outdated guidelines, others mimic the habits of fitness influencers when looking for ways to lose weight.
Both are often not supported in the current science, and likely won’t lead to sustainable changes.
This article will explain 5 common nutrition mistakes that people make when trying to lose weight.
1. Not consuming enough protein
Protein helps with weight loss in many ways. However, if you don’t eat enough protein, the body becomes less effective at burning calories. What’s more, a lower protein diet probably won’t help fill you up either.
So why exactly do we need adequate protein, and what happens when we don’t get enough?
For one, protein is important for satiety, therefore it helps to reduce total caloric intake.
Research has demonstrated that people following higher protein diets – such as 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of bodyweight daily – tend to have more controlled appetites.
These individuals may even eat up to 400 less calories daily, compared to those who eat lower protein diets (1).
Protein also helps build muscle, and the more muscle people have, the quicker the metabolic rate is. This means that consuming adequate protein allows for us to burn more calories at rest (2).
During weight loss, approximately 25% of the weight lost is in the form of muscle. When we lose muscle mass, metabolic rate slows. However, by ensuring enough protein in the diet, we can help build muscle and fight against the reduced metabolism.
It’s best to include a high-protein food in every meal and snack to optimize weight loss.
Some examples of foods that pack high protein per calorie:
- Fish and seafood
2. Focusing too much on cardio
Just like inadequate protein intake can lead to reduced muscle mass and slowed metabolism, so can focusing too much on cardio. Cardio is great for burning energy and building endurance. However, it’s not ideal if cardio takes up too much time and leaves less time for strength training.
As previously mentioned, muscle mass is reduced when someone loses weight. To counteract this loss of muscle, strength training exercises are extremely important.
Doing workouts that engage and challenge your muscles boosts fat loss and prevents the metabolism from slowing. Research even shows that those who lift weights have higher metabolic rates and less belly fat than people who don’t.
Excessive cardio can also cause stress on the body. This stress may lead to increased production of stress hormones that can inhibit weight loss and hinder muscle growth.
It’s not that cardio should be avoided, but finding a balance between cardio and lifting weights is most effective and most sustainable for weight loss (3).
3. Eating too few calories
While eating fewer calories than you burn is key for effective weight loss, eating too few calories can actually be counterproductive to weight loss.
Very low-calorie diets can lead to muscle loss and slowed metabolism.
When our bodies do not get enough energy, we slow down all of our body processes – including metabolism – as a physiological survival mechanism. However, by boosting our calories just a bit, we can give our bodies the fuel it needs to keep the metabolism running strong.
It’s really all about finding a solid balance between caloric deficit and eating enough. Consuming excess calories may prevent weight loss, while too few calories can do the same (4).
For the most part, it makes sense to reduce caloric intake by about 500 calories daily to lose weight. Since 3,500 calories are equivalent to 1 pound, if you reduce your intake by 500 calories weekly, it makes sense that you can expect to lose about 1 pound per week.
There’s no need for super restrictive diets and no one should consume less than 1,200 calories daily as less than this is not sustainable or healthy. In fact, extremely low-calorie diets can be counterproductive to weight loss as they can slow metabolism.
4. A low fiber diet
When it comes to weight loss, people often focus on managing their macronutrients, finding the perfect balance of carbs, protein, and fats. Without even realizing it, many people fall far below their daily fiber needs.
In the United States, it’s recommended that women consume at least 25g of fiber daily, while men consume 38g of fiber daily. However, most people don’t even come close.
While a low-fiber diet can pose several risks – such as impaired digestion and high cholesterol – it can also be compromising your weight loss efforts.
Fiber is key for helping to reduce and manage appetite, therefore reducing overall caloric intake. Specifically, soluble fibers help reduce appetite by forming a viscous, gel-like substance that takes up space as it slowly moves through our digestive tracts, helping us to feel fullness.
Interestingly, fiber may also play a role in regulating hormones that control our hunger levels. When fiber from our diets reaches our large intestine, the bacteria in our gut feed off of this bacteria. A high fiber diet is key for a healthy balance of bacteria in our digestive systems (5).
However, when these good bacteria feed off of these fibers, they produce something called short-chain fatty acids. These short-chain fatty acids have been shown to regulate hunger and satiety hormones, which is another reason why a high fiber diet is important for weight loss.
Naked Fiber, our fiber supplement only has one ingredient: naturally dehydrated pulp of baobab, a fiber-rich fruit from Southern Africa. It is a naturally sweet and citrusy treat that provides a whopping 18% of your daily fiber needs with each serving.
Weight loss can be tricky, and many people struggle to find a way to effectively drop pounds and keep them off.
Ultimately, it’s all about finding a healthy lifestyle that is sustainable. After all, weight loss efforts are only as effective as they are sustainable.
In your weight loss journey, it’s also important to avoid common nutrition mistakes that may be hindering your progress and preventing you from reaching your goals such as failing to meet your protein or fiber needs, eating too few calories, and focusing too much on cardio exercise.