Has your diet failed to show results? Here's 20 reasons why

Has your diet failed to show results? Here's 20 reasons why
Getty Images

You think you’re making all the right moves, so why aren’t the kilos melting off? You might be making these crucial mistakes.


1. You aren't getting enough calories

1. You aren't getting enough calories
Getty Images

Wait, isn’t the point of a diet that you are supposed to cut calories? Yes, but according to registered dietitian and author of Belly Fat for Dummies Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, it’s only a piece of the puzzle.

“A calorie is not just a calorie,” she says.

“Depending on what you consume, calories from nutrients such as protein and unsaturated fat keep you full for an extended period, whereas calories from simple sugars digest rapidly.”

If you’re cutting calories but not getting the proper vitamins, protein and fibre you need, your weight-loss plan is not going to work.

According to a study from Japan, calorie restriction leads to slower metabolic rate, which means without enough calories, your body goes into survival mode, slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy and prevent weight loss.

“Focus on improving the nutritional quality of your diet rather than your calorie intake for improved body weight and health,” Palinski-Wade says.

If you’re looking for scientifically proven ways to start losing weight right now, your first order of business is to answer the question: How many calories should I eat to lose weight?

2. You're skipping meals

2. You're skipping meals
Getty Images

As with cutting calories, cutting meals isn’t effective for healthy weight loss. Being overly hungry throws off the balance in your body, as Laura Moore, RD, director of the dietetic internship program at The University of Texas Health Science Centre at Houston (UTHealth) School of Public Health, explains.

“Energy intake, or what’s consumed, and expenditure, or what’s burned, is coordinated by signals from several systems, including the endocrine, adipose tissue, neurologic, and gastrointestinal systems,” she says.

Chemical signals that increase and decrease appetite are sent to the brain.

“This weight regulation system helps maintain a healthy weight for most people by modifying hunger, activity and metabolism to keep the body weight within a target,” Moore says.

“Moving below this target, or set point, by skipping meals can be challenging because the brain’s energy-balance system goes into action, pushing the weight back to its set point or even above.”

That means you’re basically fighting with your body over where your weight should be.

Instead, Moore recommends listening to your body’s signals, eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.

Stuck in a weight-loss plateau? These surprising factors may be preventing you from reaching your goal weight.

3. You're not mindful when you eat

3. You're not mindful when you eat
Getty Images

But if your goal is to eat less, how can you still satisfy your body’s hunger signals? The trick may be in changing how you eat as well as what you eat.

Moore recommends “mindful eating,” which means being acutely aware of everything you put into your mouth.

“Take small bites of food and chew it slowly, stopping two or three times during a meal to determine if you are hungry or if you feel satisfied,” she says.

Reexamine your portions based on how big your plates are—according to research from US university Cornell, serving food on bigger plates has a direct effect on how much is consumed.

Be mindful of other triggers that promote overeating like noshing directly from a package, buffet meals and food advertisements.

And if you’re paying attention, you’ll be less likely to finish off those extra bites of mac and cheese from your kid’s plate. Also, Moore says to eliminate distractions while eating.

“Are you watching television, working through lunch, eating at your desk, or while driving in your car?” she says. “It is important to disengage and focus on the meal, which will allow a person to experience hunger and satiety.”

Your metabolism is like compound interest: The more you invest, the bigger your reward—in the form of effortless calorie burn. These little tricks provide a big payoff.

4. You're on a fad diet

4. You're on a fad diet
Getty Images

There are so many diets out there that claim to be the best way to lose weight – or even to be healthiest.

But should you really avoid whole food groups, as with Atkins or paleo?

“Atkins, alkaline, blood type, Ornish-style, Weight Watchers, Paleo, Zone – all of these diets either restrict calories or specific macronutrient composition and for the most part lead to a temporary weight loss but are not sustainable for the long-term,” Moore says.

Studies have shown that sticking to a healthy number of calories is more important than which “macronutrients” (high protein, low carb, low fat) are eliminated or consumed.

“Meals that contain lean protein, complex carbohydrates, fibre, and healthy fats offer longer satiety,” Moore says.

“Nutrient-dense foods will provide the needed vitamin and minerals and will help maintain a feeling of fullness.”

And this will help you stick to your goals long-term.

You’ve probably heard of the vegan diet, and likely the Paleo diet too. But odds are you haven’t come across the pegan diet – a mashup of both of these trendy diets.

Here’s what you need to know.

5. You’re not planning ahead

5. You’re not planning ahead
Getty Images

It’s easy to think you’re going to eat healthy – until life gets in the way.

“Families have busy schedules and it may be easier to pick up fast food or to snack on the run, but the portion sizes may lead to weight gain,” Moore says.

If you can expect and plan for these situations, you can help avoid a diet fail.

Cook large batches of meals when you have the time and freeze them for later so you don’t have to start from scratch every night.

Fruit and veggie side dishes can also be frozen and pulled out for a quick meal or snack.

Keep healthy snacks like nuts, apple slices with peanut butter, popcorn, or healthy granola bars on hand.

And don’t toss those leftovers – use them.

“Make chicken salad with Greek yogurt, nuts, and, fruit from that leftover roasted chicken,” Moore suggests.

Mix in last night’s veggies with scrambled eggs, which can be cooked in seconds, for a healthy breakfast.

Always keep a supply of beans, avocado and hard-boiled eggs on hand for quick, satisfying lunches.

“Beans or legumes make great plant-protein additions to salads, and hard-boiled eggs mixed with avocado make great egg salad sandwiches,” Moore says.

Healthy eating the low-GI way is easy and delicious. To show you just how easy it is, here are two weeks of meal plans.

6. You’re not drinking enough water

6. You’re not drinking enough water
Getty Images

The benefits of water work in several ways. First, water is good for the workings of your body.

“The body is composed of 50 to 60 percent water, so it’s a necessary nutrient to maintain body fluids,” Moore says.

It also helps fill you up, so you eat less. And drinking water is healthier than other liquids like juice or soda.

“Water isn’t the key to weight loss, but it can substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, which decreases calories,” Moore says.

A recent study from the University of Illinois found that people who increased their water consumption by one to three cups reduced their caloric intake by 68 to 205 calories daily.

They also lowered their consumption of saturated fat, sugar, sodium, and cholesterol.

Or, Moore suggests increasing intake of fruits and veggies that have a higher water content, such as watermelon, strawberries, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cucumber, lettuce, celery, radish and tomato.

We guzzle down about 600 million litres of bottled water a year. Here are the arguments for and against drinking bottled water.

7. You’re not shopping smart

7. You’re not shopping smart
Getty Images

Along with meal planning, grocery shopping requires planning to support healthy eating. “When grocery shopping, always have a list,” Moore says.

It will help you refrain from impulse buys.

“A list will help you stay on a budget too,” she adds.

Next, don’t hit up the store before you’ve eaten.

“Shopping hungry is not a good idea because people tend to purchase more food and make unhealthy choices,” Moore says.

A study from Cornell University found that people tended to buy more food, and specifically more unhealthy food, when they were hungry.

While at the store, make sure you check out labels, because sometimes foods packaged as “healthy” are anything but.

“Read labels on food in the ‘Nutrition Facts Box’ and focus on serving size, total calories, fat, protein, fiber, and sugar,” Moore says.

But do take advantage of the store for some prepared foods that can help you stick to your goals for healthy meals.

“If you don’t have time to roast chicken, purchase the rotisserie chicken from the grocery store,” Moore suggests.

Take a look at these five shopping hacks for foods low on the glycaemic index.

8. You’re not exercising

8. You’re not exercising
Getty Images

Eating right is only one aspect of achieving a healthy weight – you can’t downplay the importance of exercise.

“If you have been adjusting your food intake without seeing the scale move, it may be because diet is just one part of the weight loss puzzle,” Palinski-Wade says.

“If you are taking in fewer calories but also moving less, you will be burning fewer calories as well. That cancels out your overall calorie deficit, which leads to limited weight loss.”

This is another reason why you shouldn’t cut calories too drastically: You need energy to exercise.

Although studies have shown that increased exercise is not enough to achieve weight loss on its own, it’s still important for overall health, as well as for speeding up a slow metabolism.

Just don’t use that trip to the gym as an excuse to chow down on unhealthy food later.

Often the first things to pop into your mind right after thinking about exercices are the excuses you can kid yourself into believing are valid reasons for NOT exercising.

Here are the top three, and how to work your way past them.

9. You’re paying too much attention to the scales

9. You’re paying too much attention to the scales
Getty Images

If you are exercising more, you may not see a change in actual weight – but that doesn’t mean you’re not getting leaner.

“If you have recently taken up an exercise routine, especially one that involves weight training, you may be losing inches without seeing a change on the scale,” Palinski-Wade says.

“This is due to muscle taking up less space than fat mass. If you lose a pound of fat and gain a pound of muscle, your weight will stay the same on the scale, yet you will have lost inches.”

In addition, muscles burn more calories than fat, so an increase in muscle mass will help you lose even more.

Finally, rather than fixate on a number on the scale, go by the way you look and feel – and how your clothes fit.

Do you find excuses not to exercise? Would you rather do anything else – even sort your socks or clean the oven? Here are a few ways to get you going.

Never miss a deal again - sign up now!

Connect with us: