Decoding Common Diet Blunders
Have you been strict with your diet and dedicated to your exercise routine, but your scale has been stuck on the same digits? You may be falling prey to some hidden diet blunders.
"No one will argue that the hardest part of dieting is will power,” says dietitian Jacqueline Richard, MS, RD, LDN, assistant director of patient services with CHRISTUS St. Patrick Hospital. "However, seemingly innocent or helpful diet mistakes are also some of the largest hurdles to overcome.”
Here are a few of the most common, according to Richard.
Outsmarting cravings by loading-up on "diet-friendly” substitutes
It can be hard to resist labels that scream fat-free, low-fat, low-carb, trans-fat-free, and gluten-free. What better way to defeat pesky cravings for brownies or that urge for chips? However, just because a product lacks fat or gluten doesn’t necessarily mean it’s healthier. In fact, many fat-free products deliver more sugar than their fat-containing counterparts.
A recent study at Purdue University found that eating certain fat-free snacks may even cause weight gain as the substitutes may interfere with the body’s ability to determine when it is full, causing to eat more. The study observed that the rats who ate potato chips containing Olean (a no-calorie, fat-free fat substitute) gained more weight than rats fed regular chips.
"If you don’t have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, think twice before dropping gluten from your diet,” says Richard "Some gluten-free bread contains up to 13 times more fat and 16 times more protein than their non-gluten counterparts.”
If sounds too good to be true, most of the time it is. Richard advises comparing the Nutrition Facts Panels and ingredient lists across brands of the same food category before purchasing any supposed "diet friendly” products.
When dieting, Richard says it’s common to focus on food intake. "It’s easy to forget the effects drinks could have on weight loss, including seeming healthy or diet drinks.” She offers these tips to avoid this mistake:
· Measure smoothie ingredients. Smoothies can be a great meal replacement when you’re on the go, but it can be easy to over-do-it when throwing ingredients into a blender. Take the time to measure each ingredient, or your drink could become a diet disaster.
· Ditch the diet soda. If you enjoy soda, diet soda may seem like a great option—no fat, no carbs, no sugar—but like with fat-free foods, recent studies suggest that sugar substitute can increase appetite and sugar cravings. It’s better to opt for water.
· Limit your alcohol intake. Think again before choosing to "drink your calories.” Drinking alcohol is the quickest way to gain weight, as many drinks contain a high amount of calories and sugar. Keep Happy Hour waistline happy by only having one drink.
· Not drinking enough water. When your body is dehydrated it does not have the energy needed to burn fat. While drinking water alone will not cause weight loss, even if you are following the perfect diet to a tee if you are not adequately hydrated you will not lose weight. Professionals advise drinking 64 ounces per day.
Skimping on sleep
Sleep deprivation will make you lethargic, which will make exercise difficult and can affect mood, making it harder to avoid temptation. Richard says while there is no one-size-fits-all number, the National Sleep Foundation advises listening to your body to get the right amount of sleep. "Seven to eight hours is the optimum for most adults.”