Despite being fairly straightforward, weight loss can sometimes be quite difficult for many, especially beginners. This is often compounded by anxiety, fear and frustration, since dieting can feel difficult and never-ending.
Additionally, it seems that many people who would be considered beginners, often make the same mistakes, which slow down or even completely halt weight loss progress.
The problem is that many steps beginners take to lose weight often feel logical. Things like removing soda, or eating “cleaner” are all par for the course, despite not being the best move possible for dietary adherence.
Although using these methods is quite understandable, you’ll still want to avoid these mistakes for a more streamlined weight loss attempt.
In this article, I’ll touch on 5 of the most common mistakes that hold beginners back and explain how you can avoid them.
Restricting The Foods You Love
One of the biggest mistakes that beginners make when it comes to weight loss is to completely restrict many of the foods they love.
Most take this step simply because many of the foods that we enjoy are also typically considered to be “unhealthy.” Not to mention, we’re conditioned to remember that story about a friend who lost 50 pounds just by eliminating soda from their diet.
Logically, it makes sense to stop eating foods like pizza and stop drinking full calorie soda, but in reality, that doesn’t always pan out. Doing so creates desire and temptation for those very same foods and beverages. Further, since you feel restricted, it’s more likely you’ll binge when you do get the chance to have them.
Lastly, this style of dieting can also result in feelings of guilt, should you accidentally deviate. Rather than completely restricting these foods, use different techniques to simply eat less of these foods or find lower calorie versions to substitute.
For example, if you’re planning on eating pizza, rather than completely restricting yourself from having any, have some protein and a salad before you have the pizza. Doing so will ensure you have proper nutrients from your meals while also helping you eat less of the pizza as you’ll feel fuller before eating it.
For things like full-calorie beverages, rather than eliminating them from your diet, simply opt for a calorie free version. Doing so will allow you to continue enjoying your soda without the caloric impact.
Placing Too Much Emphasis On Certain Foods
“Eating Clean” is often a first step many people take when attempting to lose weight. However, doing so can quickly lead to plateau and boredom, leading to abandoning the diet plan.
While improving food quality is definitely an option, you need to understand that the reason this leads to a reduction in weight is due to calorie density, not necessarily because of the actual foods themselves.
Weight loss ultimately comes down to consuming fewer calories than you expend. By switching from high calorie foods to those which are protein and fiber dense, it’s no surprise that these lead to a reduction in calorie intake and thus to a lower body weight (1).
However, it’s very important to not solely attribute your success to the specific foods you eat, since this can create habits of avoiding foods you enjoy, simply because they “aren’t clean.”
This suggestion goes hand in hand with the previous section of restricting foods. Increasing quality of the food you’re eating is a great idea, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sometimes enjoy foods you like, in moderation.
This is one of the many reasons that flexible dieting is so popular, since it places emphasis on calories, rather than specific foods.
Having Too “Flexible” A Diet
On the other side of the coin, many people who follow a flexible style of dieting are far too lenient with the foods they enjoy.
The main allure of flexible dieting is that you can place an emphasis on calorie intake, consuming foods you like as long as doing so is within your required calorie range for you goal.
However, many people take this to assume that eating anything they want is acceptable. While total calories matter, the foods you eat do, in fact, play an important role.
For example, if you have one person consuming solely pizza while dieting, they may lose weight if calorie intake is appropriate, but the quality of their weight loss likely won’t be as good as if the same person consumed greater amounts of protein and fiber.
By improving the quality of your food, you’ll be able to consume higher amounts of protein and fiber, allowing for greater satiety and ease of weight loss. Further, by having large amounts of protein while dieting, you ensure weight loss is more from loss of body fat rather than a potential loss of muscle.
It’s important to have a combination of foods you enjoy and foods that will be beneficial for your diet, even if you choose a “flexible” approach.
Not Combining Diet With Exercise
Many beginners often either begin exercising or begin dieting, rather than combining the two. However, if you’re hoping to not only lose weight but also improve definition, you should make an effort to diet and start exercising.
By combining resistance training with your diet, you increase the likelihood that you’ll gain new muscle and improve definition along with a reduction of body weight.
Additionally, a recent study indicated that when resistance training was combined with a calorically restrictive diet, results were far greater and faster than compared to either exercise or diet alone (2).
Rather than choosing diet or exercise, jump all in, making changes to both for maximum results.
Using Too Many Supplements
Supplements are very attractive when losing weight since they present the allure of easy weight loss. Unfortunately for all of us, they aren’t as potent as we’d all hope.
Certainly, supplements such as green tea extracts and caffeine are quite effective at improving body composition, but they’ll only be beneficial if you’re also using an effective diet plan and effective resistance training protocol.
Unfortunately, many people place too much faith in supplements, hoping that they’ll produce “steroid-like” results.
While many of these supplements can certainly be effective, it’s important to remember that you’ll also need to diet and exercise to see real results. Don’t just buy a supplement assuming it will be the sole answer to your problems.
5 Beginner Weight Loss Mistakes You Should Avoid
As a beginner, weight loss can be difficult and frustrating, often leading to abandonment before any real progress can be made.
Fortunately, there are some fairly typical mistakes that many make, which you can avoid if you’re hoping to lose weight in an efficient and effective manner.
Using these tips, you’ll be able to avoid the most common mistakes while ensuring your weight loss success.
- Spiegelman, B. M., & Flier, J. S. (2001). Obesity and the regulation of energy balance. Cell, 104(4), 531-543.
- Miller, T., Mull, S., Aragon, A. A., Krieger, J., & Schoenfeld, B. J. (2017). Resistance Training Combined With Diet Decreases Body Fat While Preserving Lean Mass Independent of Resting Metabolic Rate: A Randomized Trial. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 1-24.