Tackling the dos and don’ts of dieting

Wonder why you’re not losing weight when you’re trying so hard? What could you be doing wrong?

Sometimes you think you’re doing all you can to lose weight, but there’s something holding you back. Maybe you were told to do the wrong thing, you’re going about it the wrong way, or you’re holding onto a lifestyle habit that’s getting in the way.

Whatever the problem is, take heart! With this quick refresher course for successful weight loss, you’ll be on track to drop weight the healthy way.

It was true 100 years ago and remains true today – breakfast is the most important meal of your day. On top of providing the fuel your body needs to function at its best, breakfast jumpstarts your metabolism to keep it running all day. On top of that, those who regularly eat a healthy breakfast weigh less than those who skip this meal—even when it’s as simple as a bowl of oatmeal or a protein shake.

Drastically cutting calories will lead to fast weight loss for a while, but it’s not the healthy way to lose weight. Diets of this sort will lead to losing muscle rather than the fat you need to cut. Less muscle means a slower metabolism, which ultimately makes it harder to lose and keep weight off.

Skipping meals can easily lead to overeating when you finally have food in front of you. In addition, too few calories equals low energy, which can prevent you from exercising.

“I eat really well and I work out, but I also indulge when I want to. You’re not taking away my coffee or my dairy or my glass of wine because I’d be devastated.” – Jennifer Aniston

Skip the diet beverages, the artificially sweetened drinks, and the energy drinks and choose water instead. It’s often easy to mistake hunger for thirst so keep a water bottle nearby all day to sip on. Also, drinking a glass of water before each meal will help you feel fuller faster and help you eat less.

Sleep isn’t just important for energy. It’s essential for regulating your metabolism, and if you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter, you probably know that tired people eat more. An added bonus: when you’re asleep, you can’t eat. Aim to get an average of eight hours of shut-eye each night.

What? If your diet is based on cutting out all fat, think again. Certain fats are needed for good health. Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats are perfectly fine to eat in moderation. Olive oil, fish, nuts, and avocadoes are healthy sources of fats. Just be careful to limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats.

A diet that prohibits your favourite foods is setting you up for failure. It’s too tempting to give up a diet and overindulge when you’re deprived of all treats. The smart way to diet is to include small amounts or a low-calorie version of your favorite foods every once in a while in your meals. The key is moderation.

Want to lose more weight? Keep a food diary. Write down what you eat and when. This habit makes you think twice about what you put in your mouth. With a food diary, you can see unhealthy patterns emerge (dessert before bed every night) and you will even begin to feel accountable to your journal.

You may have heard it’s not helpful to weigh in often, but people are actually more successful at weight loss when they keep careful track of their progress. Aim to step on the scale once or twice a week and log your weight in your journal. Don’t despair if the scale doesn’t say what you hoped. Just follow the tips above, eat healthy meals and snacks, get plenty of exercise, and you’ll see that number get lower and lower.

Jack Wheeler is a personal trainer and owner of 360 Fitness in Red Deer.

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