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5 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight

Jacqueline-Iannone.jpgAuthor: - Jacqueline Iannone, MS, RDN

 

Weight loss is a very difficult feat and often individuals feel they are doing everything right, yet still can’t get the scale to budge in their favor. Statistically, 95% of diets fail which is a daunting number if you’re one of the two-thirds of Americans struggling with their weight. Many times when people attempt weight loss, it isn’t that they particularly fail, it’s that the methods behind the diets they choose are failing them. It’s important to seek out a nutrition plan that is realistic and sustainable for the long haul. We cultivated a list of the most common mistakes we see our patients make when attempting weight loss prior to their initial nutrition consultation.

1. You Aren’t Setting Small, Achievable Goals
Although it seems easy, setting a well thought out goal is often the first misstep when starting.  When setting goals we tend to overshoot (i.e. I want to lose 10 lbs in 1 week) setting ourselves up for inevitable failure. It is crucial to create a specific and realistic goal so we can reinforce our confidence rather than chiseling away at it. The better we do with meeting our goals, the more confidence we stock away to keep us going. Set up your goals using the infamous acronym S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). Gradual, sustainable weight loss is typically described as 1-2 lb per week until the desired weight is attained, then 6 months of weight maintenance thereafter. Here’s an example of a patient that made a smart goal:

“By watching my portions and incorporating healthier eating habits, I will aim for 1.5 lb per week of weight loss for a total of 20 lb down. This will take me about 3 months until I get to my first goal weight.”

There’s a clear direction of their goal and the desired end result. Now’s a great time to get a pen and paper and write down a smart goal of your own.

2. You Aren’t Eating Enough Fiber
Fiber is your best friend when you are trying to lose weight. Dietary fiber is a plant-based carbohydrate that your body can’t digest or absorb. This is what we often refer to as “roughage.” Fiber comes from plant-based food sources such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains (i.e. brown rice), beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. According to the Institute of Medicine, the average American only eats about 15 grams of fiber per day, significantly lower than the recommended amount. Women should aim for at least 25 grams of fiber per day, and men 38 grams. Other than weight loss, it’s essential for optimal gut functioning and decreasing the future risk for developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer.

Some quick changes that can boost your fiber intake is to make half your plate fruits and vegetables, switch to whole grains, and incorporate more plant-based proteins such as beans into your diet.

3. You’re Not Creating Balanced, Satisfying Meals
If you feel you are constantly battling insatiable hunger and frustrated with your lack of willpower, chances are you are making this mistake. It tends to not always be an issue of self-discipline, but rather a fault in creating satiating meals to decrease overall cravings. Studies show that inadequately balanced meals may lead to increased food intake later on at night.

Aim for a balanced meal by having a source of fiber, protein, and healthy fat present. These three components will make meals last, warding off potential nagging hunger throughout the day. Some examples of each of these food sources are listed below:
    
Fiber: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds
Protein: Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, poultry, fish, greek yogurt, and eggs
Healthy fats: Fluid oils, nuts, seeds, olives, and avocados

4. You’re Skipping Meals
The saying less is more doesn’t always apply when it comes to metabolism. Frequent meal skipping can make your body even more resistant towards weight loss. Picture your body similar to a phone battery, if it’s not adequately charged it goes into low power, slow mode. Going too long between meals or meal skipping puts the body in stress overdrive. Once stressed, it kicks into survival mode where it will slow down the metabolism and store away any calories it gets, causing even further resistance towards weight loss. Other than a slowed metabolism, skipping meals can cause unfortunate events such as increased hunger and increased likelihood of overeating at the next meal.

Instead of skipping, work with your metabolism and try aiming for 3 portion-controlled meals per day and snacks as needed if going greater than 4-5 hours between meals. Your metabolism will thank you.

5. You Are Not Eating Mindfully
As busy individuals, we have gotten away from becoming mindful and present during meal times. Hectic lives and work environments have caused many of us to eat fast, skewing the bodies ability to notify us on increased portions.  Research has found that meals should last at least 20-30 minutes. It’s within this mark of time that the satiety (fullness) hormone leptin starts circulating around the body and delivering the signal to the brain that we’ve reached capacity. In other words, it takes 20-30 minutes for your brain and stomach to connect. Mindful eating alone will help your body become more alert to its satiety cues, meaning you will eat less by making your meals last longer. Next time you sit down to eat, take a peek at the time and really focus on slowing down and being more present.

For more personalized nutrition advice during your weight loss journey, seeking the guidance and expertise of a Registered Dietitian can be advantageous. They will help provide you with evidence based nutrition information and serve as a resource for support and accountability.

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