If you're reading this article it is very likely that you're convinced that diets don’t work, we could almost assure you that if you do an analysis of your previous attempts to lose weight you could list more than 3 different diets that have not worked. If you wonder how can we say this with such certainty is because most of us have been there at some point in our lives.
Want to know why? We will give you our perspective regarding the possible errors that are often made when trying to lose weight by dieting.
The topic about diets is so vast and full of factors to consider that it is impossible to cover all aspects related to the frequent issue of our inability to lose weight. That's why we give you here the most common reasons why most of the times the expected results are not achieved when a diet is carried out.
However, it is also important to note that often the efforts of people to lose weight do give results, but they are not maintained: the main problem with many diets is that they do not provide lasting results. So as soon as you stop the diet or you "neglect it” a little, lost weight comes back and even with a few extra pounds in comparison to the beginning.
The purpose of this post is not to give you a specific diet but to highlight potential errors that could cause that even if you are dieting you are not losing weight.
MISTAKE # 1
Exceeding the amount of “Light” products consumed believing you can’t gain weight
Eating food low in fat, calories, sugars, etc does not mean they cannot cause weight gain or that such products are not harmful if consumed in excess.
It is very common and it has even been proven in behavioral studies that when we see the legend of "light", "low fat", "low calorie", "no trans fat", etc. .. influences us unconsciously leading us to consume such foods in larger amounts than if they didn’t had these legends.
We should keep in mind that although they might be considered healthier or less harmful, most of this food still contain calories, carbohydrates, fat, sodium, etc. so they must also be consumed in moderation.
Whether its the case of light, low in certain substance / nutrient or not, it is important to note that nutritional information labeling is a complex issue that might even seem necessary to have an extensive study of the subject in order to understand it properly.
Besides being a pretty confusing issue, it is not, at least for many people, practical or attractive to read and review each and every one of the labels of all the food that we consume or purchase. However if we are looking to eat healthier and lose weight, is something that we should do with the food that we don’t know well.
We invite you to read our post on nutritional information labels if you want more details on this topic.
It is very simple and concrete: do not get carried out only by those legends in food packaging, as useful and orienting as they might be, it is not the only thing that we should consider since over any other factor, the amount we consume of such products is what is most relevant.
Remember that labeling and nutrition information for all products and food is based on specified portions by the manufacturer and almost as a rule they are very small portions which leads us very often to eat double, triple or more of what is set to these labels and this is where inadvertently ingest much more than we think.
MISTAKE # 2
Not counting the calories and focusing only on carbohydrates
When discussing this subject we should consider what a wide range of dietary alternatives exist out there, so we will summarize our simple recommendation regarding carbohydrate intake.
There are many diets that emphasize on low carb intake or almost no carbs and like everything in life, we believe that neither extreme is good and these diets are no exception.
There are diets like Atkins where almost all carbohydrates should be excluded, something that becomes very difficult, not impossible but difficult to sustain in the long term at least for most people; in addition the diet suggests saturated fat consumption 3 times more than recommended and can also lead to a deficiency of certain vitamins and minerals.
The South Beach diet which allows the intake of certain high-fiber carbohydrates and restricts the intake of saturated fat (i.e. bacon, butter, fried foods, etc). And an example of a diet that seeks a better balance would be the Zone diet, which suggests the intake of 40% carbohydrates, 30% protein and 30% unsaturated fats.
As these previous three examples there are countless diets available and widely recommended by their creators and "followers" however, as mentioned previously, we believe that neither extreme is good.
The goal of a person when decided to "diet" should be having a proper balance of the ingested nutrients but more importantly the amounts of daily food to be eaten.
In a study conducted by a recognized medical journal (The New England Journal of Medicine) it was found that after subjecting a group of overweight people to four different diets for two years, from the point of view of weight loss, there was not demonstrated importance on what kind of diet they did but on the amount of calories ingested, reflecting that even more important than quality (which is also relevant) the amount was the determining factor to achieve proper weight loss.
If you're going to focus on controlling the intake of carbohydrates in your diet, rather than trying to minimize this nutrient that is essential for the human body energy, look that the total amount is not high and the quality of these carbohydrates is the appropriate one.
There are refined sugars or carbohydrates and unrefined, being the first ones the ones you should try to avoid as they cause a rapid increase in glucose levels in blood, which without getting deep into biochemical details, are known as high of glycemic index, what causes us to soon feel hunger and to eat more. (Example: white rice, some cereal, bread, pasta, sweets, etc.)
Unrefined sugars are those considered as "good" since they are complex, they do not cause a rapid rise in glucose levels in the body and do not awaken the appetite fast such as refined ones. Examples: whole grain cereals, fruits and vegetables, whole-grain bread, etc., any food made from whole grains.
Going into more detail on this is beyond the purpose of this post so we invite you to visit our post where we explain more about carbohydrates and we provide a list of them.
MISTAKE # 3
Focusing solely on weight and not on the sizes
Another very common mistake that we find that patients make is to focus exclusively on weight loss, it is definitely very useful for those who are doing the preoperative diet and it is the parameter what we rely on to establish the time duration of preoperative diet in preparation for gastric sleeve surgery, gastric band or any other bariatric procedure.
We must not forget that the body also reduces its size when we are on a low calorie diet. So when the patient either before surgery or after it, concerns about not losing weight in a continuous and progressive manner we ask them to also analyze the reduction in body measures which without making accurate measurements can be seen clearly reflected in how clothes fit them, the reduction in the clothing size is very noticeable especially in the first months after surgery.
MISTAKE # 4
Eating too fast and not chewing well
Most patients who are overweight or obese tend to have the bad habit of eating too fast and unless they are involved in a competition there is no prize or reward for eating at high speed, on the another hand, this simple fact can cause us not lose weight properly.
Eating fast means not chewing food properly and swallowing whole chunks of food that prevents our body from adequate digestion which leads to gastrointestinal distress that can go from minimal to very obvious.
Moreover, this causes us to eat more than what our body actually needs for the simple fact that we do not allow our brain to receive and send the satiety signal and when we perceive that we are "full", we have eaten many more bites than what really was needed to be satisfied.
Chew each bite no less than 20 times, this will allow satiety to come before you've ingested extra food, plus you will truly savor and enjoy food and have better digestion.
MISTAKE # 5
Eating until feeling full and not to feel satisfied
This is an habit that we have all fallen at some point and is a very common behavior that is even more often when it comes to one of our favorite foods.
We must make a change in our perception and relationship with food, consider that we should eat to live, not live to eat. When eating, we must have in mind that there is no need to wait for the sensation of “I can’t eat any more” because I’ll “blow up”.
Eating in a slow and paused manner will allow us to taste the food and more easily realize that we are satisfied and prevent us from reaching that moment of "I can’t have another bite". Remember that no matter if you worked hard on your food choices, if the amount is excessive, at the end of that binge eating, the amount of calories consumed is much more than our body actually needs.
MISTAKE # 6
Skipping meals to lose weight
How often have you thought “I don’t know why I gain weight if I only eat two times a day?”
It turns out that this idea could not be more wrong about eating and diets. You'll never lose weight adequately and healthily if your tactic is "skipping" meals.
No matter whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner; the fact is that the human body is made to protect itself and when you skip a meal you make you body enter in a state of “alert” making it believe that you are on a precarious situation in which it does not knows when the next meal will come (which is the energy source and the basis of its operation) so the body enters on “starvation mode” what causes it that the next time you eat, your body will try to save everything that was ingested as a reserve in the form of fatty tissue to be prepared for a new precariousness and scarcity situation.
Also beware of the common misconception of: “I only make one big meal”, since it is ok to have low calorie and smaller meals, but if your big meal is not only big because it is more substantial but also you eat in excess and you are not aware of its quality, those small meals will be of little use to help you lose weight.
We not only advise you to eat three times a day as we were usually taught, but to increase the number of occasions you eat per day, in other words, in addition to your three meals, breakfast lunch and dinner, among them try to have two or three "snacks ". It is worth clarifying that we mean healthy snack foods, and sparingly,
MISTAKE # 7
Eating big amounts of “healthy” food and falling into product’s marketing tricks
This topic explains itself: eating healthy food does not mean you can eat in excess.
It is noteworthy is that all food companies are looking for ways to sell more of their products and are taking advantage that we are entering an era of greater awareness about health and eating habits, so we have been bombarded with slogans and legends that seek to make us believe that these products are the best choice to avoid weight gain when the reality is different. Still there are very good and healthy products out there, remember, check the nutritional information and you’ll have a good perspective on the quality of the product.
Seek to reduce the portions of your food based on simple recommendations like eating with small silverware (kids size if possible), serve your food on small plates, use the size of the palm of your hand as a reference to the portion of main course you eat , avoid drinking fluids during meals, try drinking a glass of water before starting to eat and don’t drink water (or any liquid preferably) for 15 to 30 minutes after eating.
MISTAKE # 8
Consuming high calories in the form of liquids
Believing that liquids are not as fattening as solids is a misconception that some people have, but the reality is that liquids can contain as many or more calories than solids, most of the liquids that we have at our reach are high calories liquids, they are usually rich in carbohydrates and some of them even fat rich like milkshakes and ice cream.
Even patients who have already undergone a bariatric procedure either sleeve gastrectomy, gastric banding, gastric bypass, etc, are at greater risk of not losing enough weight or even increase some pounds due to excessive fluid intake since despite the restriction and/or limitation in nutrient absorption after surgery, being liquid or semi-liquid food, it readily passes through the digestive tract.
Monitor the quantity and quality of liquids or semi-liquids like milkshakes, iced coffee, juices, soft drinks, coffee with cream and milk, soft drinks regular soda (carbonated drinks), ice cream and even those who are prepared with the mixture of water and powder, you should try to get those that are light or low calorie, but not after reminding yourself what we explained about this "light" products regarding that despite this legend, most of them still contain certain amount of carbohydrates and calories.
Another good example would be the energy drinks like Gatorade ® which sells certain varieties depending on the phase of training who takes it; however, the amount of calories per serving can range from 50 to 100 calories and 7 grams to 25 grams of carbohydrates. And considering we eat these fluids before, during or after exercise is very easy to take more than one serving.
Finally with regards to liquids, we must also remember that alcoholic beverages are generally high in calories so for both, health concerns and to lose weight, you should drink moderately and even more when it comes to beer or drinks which combine with juices or sweetening and flavouring substances.
Then the observation is to moderate the amount of liquids that we drink since it is something that helps us quench the thirst or to swallow food we tend to drink too much and they do not calm hunger.
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ERROR # 9
Abandoning exercise if you don’t seem to lose weight
If you haven’t had any bariatric procedure and want to lose weight through diet and exercise, you need to be more consistent and patient because exercise causes (to a lesser or greater extent) increased muscle mass which weighs more than body fat so you should not feel disappointed if days or weeks have passed and you don’t seem to lose weight.
Postoperative patients should also consider that if they are following the directions that are set by us or most bariatric groups, one of the main recommendations in addition to carrying a specific diet is exercising regularly, surgery without exercise will never show the same results, and as in the non-operated persons, when the they are exercising, the body begins to form more muscle mass which is much dense (heavier) than fat, so the proportion of fat loss versus increased muscle mass may create the false perception that they are not losing weight or have even increased a little and that is not synonymous that your surgery and or workout is not giving results.
ERROR # 10
Not analyzing and correcting every detail of your diet and lifestyle that might have lead you to the initial weight increment.
By this we mean all those details that can avoid you not to lose weight or gain little by little (several of them mentioned here in previous paragraphs) such as failure to look for low calorie food in calories, fat free, low sodium, etc.
Failure to keep a balance in the proportion of ingested nutrients, which we do not specify since it depends on the type of food or diet recommended by your doctor or or the food you have chosen for your new lifestyle.
Eating slowly may seem an insignificant detail but can make a huge difference.
Try to exercise regularly with a specific activity or only with small changes in daily activity such as walking, walking the dog or going for a walk with your family in the park, parking far from the entrance to the supermarket, using the stairs instead of the elevator and many other details as already mentioned in this article.
Avoid the "extras" such as high-calorie salad dressings that are “creamy” and thick, bacon, cheese, croutons and everything else that could be “enticing” but make our healthy food stop being that healthy.
We tend to believe that because of the fact of being eating salad there is no way we can increase weight, however, if we add this “toppings” we could eat even more calories than if we ate a fast food burger.
It may seem that many of these details mentioned are not going to make a big difference, to give you perspective, we show the following example:
With the intake of only a 100 extra calories per day, after a year it represents an increase in weight of 10 pounds; Now, considering that for many days over a year we not only exceed 100 calories but much more, hence the simple explanation why we not only don't lose weight but we even gain and without taking in consideration the fact that our metabolism decreases as we age.
ERROR # 11
Dieting as a temporary objective and not changing your eating habits as a new lifestyle
The right approach to have in relation to your attempt to lose weight is to be aware that no diet is magical and will not be effective if from the beginning you have the idea of making it for a certain period of time and expect weight loss to be maintained.
If you manage to lose weight but do not maintain the weight loss, it is likely because you sought to lose weight in preparation for a special event like a wedding, graduation, etc. And not something that becomes a new relationship between yourself, the food and physical activity.
The key is to look for changes with which you can live the rest of your life not only to lose weight but to maintain that loss indefinitely.
So we have to put everything that is on our side if we want to have good results and even more when theres a considerable amount of pounds to lose, this, plus a positive attitude and why not, the support of a great tool such as weight loss surgery will definitely lead you to reach your goals.
Your turn, let us know which diets have you tried and what have been the results, if you already had surgery, How has the transition been between you and food?
The gastric sleeve procedure in México is totally safe, we invite you to get a free evaluation with us and share your questions about the gastric sleeve cost in México, side effects, etc.
Written by: Gabriel Rosales
Dr. Gabriel Rosales is a highly skilled, board certified surgeon in constant pursuit of learning the latest innovations in the weight loss surgery field to give his patients the best care possible.