Common dieting mistakes

If you've been trying to shrink you waistline and are not seeing any results, you could be ruining your own dieting success without even realising it


You’ve gone fat free

Cutting fat out of your diet might save you calories but it won’t help you lose weight long term. “For any diet to work and be sustainable, you’ve got to feel satisfied with what you eat,” says naturopath Max Tomlinson, creator of “Fat is not only filling, it’s also essential for slowing the release of sugar into your blood and the transit of food through your gut – this nips cravings in the bud, and helps you feel fuller for longer.”  Avoid butter and cheese, but make sure you eat ‘good’ fats – you’ll feel better for it. 


You're not eating enough


The less you eat the more weight you’ll lose right? Wrong! Your body is designed to do all it can to stay alive, so if it senses you’re hungry and food is scarce it will store fat for future use. “You might initially lose weight on a low-calorie diet, but it’s not sustainable, you can’t stay that hungry for long and you’ll end up slipping back to your old calorie intake,” warns Zoe Harcombe, obesity researcher and author of Stop Counting Calories and Start Losing Weight (£9.99 

“Following a low-calorie diet also slows your metabolism (the rate at which your body burns calories), so when you go back to eating normally you’ll pile weight on faster because your body is determined to hang on to fuel in case of another famine.” 
If you want to count calories aim for around 2000 a day (the amount needed by the average woman – most of us eat more than this) and do a resistance workout three times a week to build muscle and boost your metabolism.


You’re getting more exercise, but haven’t changed your diet

Exercise only makes up 20 per cent of your inch-loss equation, while what you eat accounts for 80 per cent. So while exercise improves your health and speeds up your metabolism if you build your muscle strength, if you don’t tweak your diet at the same time you’re unlikely to lose weight. “If your average workout burns 400 calories and you do this three times a week, it’s not going to have the same effect as shaving 500 calories off your daily food intake,” says Rob. “View exercise as the cherry on the cake for additional weight and fat loss and make sure you’re eating a balanced diet.”  Turn to p35 for our healthy recipe ideas.


You don’t listen to your body

Are you a controlled eater or an intuitive one? Controlled eaters keep food diaries, watch what they eat and keep track of their calories. Intuitive eaters listen to their body’s signals, eat when they’re hungry and stop when they’re full. One study found that intuitive eaters are less likely to be overweight and are more able to maintain their weight loss because they spend less time thinking about food. Controlled eaters on the other hand are more likely to binge eat, give in to emotional eating or just eat for the sake of it. 


You’re doing the wrong type of exercise

“For weight loss your goals should be to build muscle and burn fat, says Max. “Muscle is the main fat-burning mechanism, so try to work in some resistance moves such as squats, lunges and bicep curls using hand weights. 
“On top of that, to burn fat, you need to do a moderate intensity workout (eg a brisk walk) that keeps your heart beating at 130 beats per minute. Higher than that will just burn off sugar and make you hungry.”


You’re relying on willpower alone

You think you’re strong enough to resist, but willpower alone is not enough for long-term weight loss,” says Rob Hobson, head of nutrition at Healthspan. “Going it alone is tough, but research shows that support from others – such as dieting with friends or a weight-loss group – pays dividends.” Also try mindfulness techniques such as sitting down to eat, chewing food slowly and putting your knife and fork down between mouthfuls.


You haven’t mastered your stress levels

Stress has a massive impact on your weight, says Max. “It prevents you says Max. “It prevents you sleeping well, and research shows you could gain around 11lb after just three months of minor sleep deprivation.” Work some of these stress-busters into your day. Walk or swim, spray a little relaxing magnesium oil on to your skin each evening – BetterYou Magnesium Oil (£12.20/100ml) – and dose up with a herbal tincture such as A Vogel’s Stress Relief Daytime (£4.15/15ml) from health food shops.

Words by Karen Evennett

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