Ever been frustrated by a weight loss plateau despite doing all of the right things?
I mean....hasn't nearly everyone at some point?
Even when we think we’re being mindful of what we’re eating, it’s very easy to be a little too overconfident.
Studies show that individuals underreported their calorie intake by up to 40% when asked about their diet.
That’s because it can be super easy for extra calories to slip through the cracks, slowly sabotaging our weight loss, even when you are under the impression that you are being extra good boy or girl.
Before we get started, I want to be clear that this article is written for people aiming for general weight loss (rather than a cut).
So what are some common mistakes you may be making? Here are some likely answers:
1.) Not Measuring Accurately
You may think that large, luscious, delicious slab of peanut butter you just slathered on your bread was only two tablespoons, but if you eyeballed it and there’s actually four, you just ate yourself an extra 220 calories.
So, if you use an app like MyFitnessPal to track your foods, be sure that what you’re eating is what you’re inputting and not just the first portion you see on your app. So, check your labels against what you choose in the database.
If you don’t use an app, it’s still not too difficult to be accurate if you really are wanting to pay attention to your calories. Measure your portions and compare them to the serving sizes on the nutrition facts label.
Just remember, when you do measure, do it precisely. If you serve yourself a heaping half cup of guacamole rather than just half a cup, you could overeat by an extra 100 calories.
2.) Tracking Troubles
Eating out can be an issue with tracking. Some people go by what is listed on the menu which is not always error-free and studies show the portion sizes can vary widely from the standardized calorie and macro info the restaurant gives you.
For example, a restaurant may give the nutrition facts for an 8 ounce portion when they are actually serving you 12 ounces. The truth is, the amount you get could be the difference between an attentive employee one day and a chef who is halfway out the door the next.
So, how can you be absolutely certain of your portions?
Cook your own meals whenever possible. Not only can this save money, but you have full control of the ingredients you are eating.
But Destini? I have a life? I can't cook every single meal I have? Also? I have friends who peer-pressure me into eating at restaurants I probably can't afford?
Okay, how about this.
When eating out, definitely enjoy your meal without anxiously thinking "how in the shit am I going to track all of this??" Just be aware of your portion to make sure you aren’t going crazily over your calorie goals.
Finally, simply forgetting to track the protein bar you snagged on your way dashing out of the office or the couple of handfuls of fries your friend offered you in their car could add up over time.
With our busy lifestyles, even the most diligent tracker can neglect to input something it seems like they ate ages ago. The best way to counter this is to make sure you are eating with purpose, rather than out of boredom, while you are distracted or just because you feel you need to clean your plate (pesky childhood habit, I know!).
Keep in mind, tracking your food this way is not something that is meant to be done forever.
Seriously, you’d lose your mind and hate my guts. Neither of which I’d like for you to do.
More often than not, after you’ve tracked for 2-4 weeks, you tend to know your eating patterns pretty well and get a lot better at eyeballing measurements which is the better way to live.
3.) Being a Weekend Warrior
You’ve seen this species of person.
The weekend warriors are those who are proudly equipped with their meal prep tupperware, tracking app in hand and measuring spoons and cups in their bag, the poster child for diligence during the weekdays.
A dietitian's dream, really!
These are also the people I see who think their good practices are a free pass to throw all of that hard work out the stinkin’ window come the weekend.
Don’t get me wrong, indulgences every once in a while are fine...in fact, encouraged. But if you get too sloppy, it could definitely set your weight loss back.
Your weekly average of calories eaten does make a difference and, if you feast and cocktail away your calorie deficit created in the weekdays, all of your hard work could have been for nothing and you’ll quickly find yourself running in place.
4.) Eating Too Much Healthy Food
Avocado toast on sprouted bread, fresh pressed juice and snack containers of organic walnuts and almonds all sound like a wet dream of the most seasoned Whole Foods visitors. Definitely all "clean" foods on the surface.
However, even clean foods can be packed with calories. I once had a client who was stalled in her weight loss for 6 months with no progress.
She was utterly stumped and insisted that she's hyper diligent in making sure her diet quality is always on point. When we did a diet recall, I found out that she ate avocado toast from Philz with her coffee every morning.
That's 600 calories consumed before the day even started.
Basically, it doesn't matter how healthy a food is. If you're eating too much of it and going over on calories, you'll end up killing yourself in the gym while sabotaging yourself in the kitchen.
The bottom line? Although not absolutely necessary, if you’re motivated enough, one of the most efficient ways to stay on track with our calorie and macro goals is tracking our food accurately, paying attention to your portions and indulging responsibly.
We can’t all perfectly estimate our intake all of the time and everyone is certainly entitled to guilty pleasures every now and then.
Just remember, at the end of the day, your portion sizes matter and eventually you’ll be able to gain a handle on your diet without all of the measuring and data entry. Until then, awareness of how easily extra calories can slip into your diet as well as how easy it is to prevent them from slipping in the first place, can keep you on the right track to your goals.