Are you struggling with your results? Have you been spending quality time in the gym, not missing any workouts, and sweating your butt off on the cardio machine, but for some unknown reason you are still not making your goal weight, or trimming down your physique to cover-worthy material? Did you ever think you might be sabotaging your diet without even knowing it? I’m sure you are already aware that stuffing your face with chocolate and pizza will no doubt not get you to your goal weight or a lean and trim fat-free figure, but you might be unaware of other diet-busting mistakes that are making their way into your current eating routine. To ensure you are eating as clean as possible, consider avoiding these top five diet mistakes and bring your body one step closer to where you want to be!
Diet Mistake #1: No Plan of Action
Without a plan, there is nothing to measure your success against. If you plan your meals out for the week— each and every week— and consider your schedule, you cannot go wrong. In fact, one study showed that people who showed up at the grocery store with a shopping list were less likely to make impulsive choices on bad food! It was also shown that people who came up with options from memory led to more in-the-moment decisions that were often not healthy! And never go to the grocery store hungry; temptation will be even harder to avoid when you are faced up against low blood sugar levels and the urge to eat sugar! Plan out a week’s worth of meals, make a detailed shopping list for your plan and stick with it! And remember the good, healthy food is around the perimeter, not in the interior aisles!
Diet Mistake #2: Not Enough Protein
Protein— and lots of it— is essential to your diet plan. Aim for one gram of protein per pound of bodyweight, each and every day. Yes, protein is important for building a lean and trim body, but it also increases your metabolism when you eat it, because it actually takes more energy to break it down versus other foods. Not to mention protein also has a satiating effect, which means it can decrease appetite between meals. And let’s not forget the importance of protein for post-workout recovery. Be sure take in adequate amounts of protein every two to three hours, about five to six times per day. Great lean protein options are chicken, turkey, red meat, tuna, sole, tilapia, egg whites and of course whey protein.
Diet Mistake #3: Weekend Weakness
Most of us fare well on our diets during the week. Unfortunately weekends are often another story. Research has shown that adults involved in daily exercise tend to take in more calories on the weekends than during the week, which hinders efforts to improve body composition. Social activities and the relaxing nature of the weekend can often mean we let our dietary guard down and pack in more calories. Another addition to the weekend fun can often be alcohol. Alcohol contains about seven calories per gram, but unlike other foods it is unable to store these calories. The body will burn these calories first, which means that all other calorie burning ceases, including fat burning! Remember that Saturday and Sunday still represent a good portion of your week, so cheating too often during the weekend can really hurt your results long term. In a 12-week diet plan, that’s 24 days! On the weekends, make sure you stick to your plan, and if you are out and about, pack fitness-friendly snacks to take with you, like nuts, protein bars and veggie sticks. Plan weekend activities that keep you active, and out of diet trouble!
Diet Mistake #4: Same Old
Consistency is often the key to success, but if you are eating the same vegetables and proteins day in and day out, this can lead to diet boredom and result in a diet derailment! Keep things interesting by eating a variety of different foods. There are many different green vegetables to eat, not just broccoli. Each week, aim to purchase two different vegetables that you may not have tried before. Experiment with different types of monounsaturated fats, and different protein sources to change things up, without changing up the macronutrient values. Instead of chicken have fish, and instead of sweet potato try squash. The possibilities are endless with a little imagination.
Diet Mistake #5: Not Getting Enough Sleep
We all know that sleep is important, but did you know that consistent lack of sleep can result in overeating of calories during the day, weight gain and a loss of lean muscle? Sleep helps regulate important hormones that affect appetite: ghrelin, which tells the brain when it’s time to eat, and leptin, which tells the brain when it’s time to stop eating! People who have lost hours of sleep have been found to have higher levels of leptin and less ghrelin. Be sure to get eight hours of sleep every night. Sleep is essential for regulating growth hormone, hunger hormones and for ensuring muscle repair and growth.
Nedeltheva AV, et al. Sleep curtailment is accompanied by increased intake of calories from snacks. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009; 89(1): 126-33.
Racette SB, et al. Influence of weekend lifestyle patterns on body weight. Obesity. 2008; 16(8): 1826-30.
Rottenstreich Y, et al. Feeling and Thinking in Memory Based versus Stimulus Based Choices. J of Consum Res. 2007; 33.
Thompson H, et al. Dietary Botanical Diversity Affects the Reduction of Oxidative Biomarkers in Women due to High Vegetable and Fruit Intake. J Nutr. 2006; 136: 2207-2212.