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Even if you’ve kicked off a fitness routine and you’re choosing healthier food, you may not be seeing the weight come off the way you’d hoped. While there are plenty of other healthy accomplishments to celebrate, you’re probably wondering what’s not working. One or a few of these 25 culprits may be all that’s standing in the way of your weight-loss goals.
1. You overeat healthy food. Nuts, avocados, whole wheat pasta, olive oil, and dark chocolate are all natural and healthy, but they aren’t void of calories. You still need to watch how much you eat of the good stuff. For example, avocado offers a ton of health benefits, but an entire fruit is over 200 calories. Find out what the serving sizes of your other favorite healthy foods are here.
2. You skip breakfast. Skipping breakfast may seem like a great way to save calories, but keep in mind that people who eat breakfast regularly lose more weight—so make sure to eat breakfast each morning to jump-start your metabolism. Don’t just grab anything; include protein to give yourself sustainable energy and fiber to fill you up for hours.
3. You don’t practice portion control. When it comes to a balanced diet, we know that portion control is one of the keys to success. Keep measuring cups and spoons on-hand to make sure your serving sizes are appropriate, and learn how to give your body the “I’m full” signal in order to help you drop the fork when the time is right and move on with your day.
4. You eat while standing up. Standing at the fridge or the counter to chow down isn’t saving time or energy and can lead to mindless eating. It’s best to designate time for snacking and meals that’s set apart from other activities.
5. You skimp on sleep. Making time for your workouts can mean less time for sleep, but it’s important to get enough Z’s if you’re trying to lose weight. You need extra energy to keep up with your exercise routine, and skimping on sleep can affect your body’s ability to control its appetite: Not enough shut-eye increases appetite-stimulating hormones.
6. You overindulge on diet food. Going for foods with a lower calorie count can be deceiving since many times they’re filled with extra sodium, sugar, or chemical additives to make up for the ingredients the company has removed or decreased. Not only are these light versions less nutritious, but they also end up tasting “lighter,” leading you to eat more. You’ll probably end up consuming more calories than you would if you just ate a regular-sized portion of the real thing.
7. You forget to eat your veggies. Eating five to seven servings of fruits and veggies a day is important for everyone, but dieters who go heavy on the produce are more likely to lose weight and keep it off since a diet full of plant-based foods offers a greater variety of nutrients with fewer calories—and all that fiber keeps the body feeling fuller longer.
8. You only do cardio. If you live on the treadmill but never lift a pound, then you’re missing out on one of the most important pieces of the fitness puzzle. Not only does weight lifting prevent injury by strengthening the joints, but it also builds muscle mass and increases metabolic rate. Bonus: Thanks to a revved-up metabolism, you’ll keep burning calories long after you’ve slipped off your sneakers.
9. You exercise on an empty stomach. If you regularly exercise without eating first, you should reconsider: When you work out on an empty stomach, research shows that the calories burned come from muscle, not fat. Since muscle burns more calories than fat, the more muscle mass you have, the better it is for weight loss. Not only will fueling your body help you avoid losing muscle, but you’ll also have more energy to push yourself through your workout.
10. You cut out entire food groups. Giving up entire food groups can lead to a nutritional deficiency—not to mention trigger major cravings for whatever food has been cut. Rather than, say, eliminating all carbohydrates, focus on whole grains, and remember to monitor portion control. Usually it’s the extra servings that add to your waistline, not the pasta itself.
11. You don’t eat enough. Don’t starve yourself to save calories for later. It’ll not only mess up your metabolism, and by dinnertime, that famished feeling will likely cause you to eat more than you would if you weren’t starving. Not only is depriving yourself not sustainable for continued weight loss, but limiting yourself to too-small portions can lead to excess snacking between mealtimes.
12. You always dine out. Hitting your favorite restaurant is a great way to unwind, but you’re more likely to indulge in a huge meal, which might include appetizers, drinks, fried foods, and dessert. Calorie counts are also a mystery, especially since smaller food establishment don’t list their numbers. If you don’t want to give up your nights out, then split a meal with a friend, order healthy options like salads and grilled chicken, and sip water instead of wine. Check out more tips for eating healthy at a restaurant here.
13. You refuel post-workout wrong. A post-workout snack is just that—a snack. And unless it’s mealtime, what you eat after an average workout should be around 150 calories. Since healthy foods like trail mix can be high in calories, measure out a serving instead of mindlessly chomping straight out of the bag. If you’re looking for some ideas, here are 10 post-workout snacks under 150 calories.