You don’t have to look too far to see the latest diet gimmicks promising quick and easy weight loss. To set things straight, we’ve debunked some of the most popular weight-loss hacks that frequently backfire.
1. EATING A LOW-CARB DIET
Cutting carbs can be a quick weight-loss strategy for some because it eliminates many highly processed or sugary foods, snacks and drinks from the diet. However, most people don’t know that much of the initial weight loss is simply water weight, since carbohydrates cause the muscle to retain water. Maintaining a very low-carb diet is difficult and not sustainable for most, which is why that weight returns so quickly once carbohydrate consumption resumes.
2. THE CHEAT DAY
Following strict diet rules all week long can be exhausting and boring. Such a stringent regimen can make you feel like you need a “cheat” meal or a day to reward yourself for your “good” dieting efforts. This way of thinking backfires because it often leads to binging and consuming too many calories, which may undo all of the progress you made during the week. Instead of rewarding your healthy diet efforts with food, treat yourself to new workout gear or another nonfood reward that keeps you motivated and on the straight and narrow. Take away food guilt by allowing yourself to have indulgent foods during the week, but keep portions in check so you don’t go overboard.
3. EATING “CLEAN” (ALL OF THE TIME)
Swearing off sweets and junk food, eliminating processed foods and getting back to the basics with nutrition all sound like a great game plan — and it’s what many aspire to do; however, eating this way 100% of the time just isn’t realistic for the long haul. Instead of setting unachievable eating expectations, consider following a moderation approach to wellness: Eat more whole, minimally processed foods 80% of the time, and keep your diet more flexible 20% of the time.
4. EATING SIX MEALS A DAY
Even if you’re eating healthy foods, too much of a good thing can still undermine your efforts. All calories count, which is why overconsuming healthy foods will still lead to weight gain. While eating frequently throughout the day is helpful in maintaining an active metabolism and regulating your appetite, it’s still important to keep tabs on portions so that you don’t end up blowing your calorie budget.
5. CUTTING TOO MANY CALORIES
While science tells us calories in need to be less than calories out, losing weight and keeping it off are more than a mathematical equation. They’re also an art of figuring out what works best for you. It may seem that the more calories you cut out or burn, the faster you’ll lose weight, but the body is smart and wises up quickly to what you’re doing by reducing your metabolism. As you lose weight and as your exercise routine changes, your calories need to be adjusted slowly and strategically for sustained weight loss.