While some have tried pretty shocking techniques to lose weight, there are also some common, long-held techniques that seem like a good idea—and may even work at first—but are absolutely going to backfire and end up causing weight gain. If you're on a quest to a slimmer you, avoid doing these five things.
Having a Cut-Off Time for Eating
If you've heard that you shouldn't eat past 6, 7, or 8 p.m. in order to lose weight, that's just not true. Food eaten at night doesn't automatically get stored as fat, as previously believed. What time you stop eating has nothing to do with how much weight you'll gain or lose—it's the total calories you consume in a day that matters. If you are a late-night snacker, opt for healthier options that are easy to digest.
Whether it's all carbs, all gluten, all sugar, all baked goods, or all whatever, certified dietitian Leslie Langevin, M.S., R.D., of Whole Health Nutrition, believes this is not a life your pizza-ice-cream-pasta-loving self can sustain. After a period of forced deprivation, most people will just throw in the towel and devour an enormous plate of whatever they're living without, says Langevin. Or, if they are able to go through a period of elimination, once they go back to eating these foods, the weight they lost will slowly creep back on. When it comes to maintaining weight loss, moderation is key.
Subscribing to a Low-Fat Diet
Going no fat or low fat was a huge trend back in the '90s, a fad that we are glad has mostly passed. Most low-fat foods are packed with sugar to add flavor, and as a result, they end up causing weight gain—especially belly fat. Also of importance is that we've since learned that eating healthy fats like avocado, olive oil, and nuts can actually help to increase metabolism and can burn away belly fat. Healthy fats also fill you up longer, so go ahead and add nuts to your smoothie, avocado to your soup, or roast your veggies in olive oil.
Skipping Out on Meals
In order to lose weight, you need to create a calorie deficit. And while reducing the number of calories in your diet is one way to do this, skipping an entire meal is not the way to go. Starving the body can slow down its metabolism and lead to overeating later. And let's face it, if you're running on empty, you won't have the energy for a calorie-crushing workout later. Beyond adopting a healthier diet in general, the best way to reduce your calorie intake is to find ways to make healthy swaps in your favorite foods and also by choosing lower-calorie foods that are high in fiber, protein, or whole grains, which can better keep you full.
Working out is definitely part of the weight-loss equation, but if you think it means you can eat whatever you want, you're not going to be happy with the results. Keep in mind that a 30-minute run at a pace of six mph (10 minutes per mile) burns about 270 calories. In order to lose a pound a week, you need to burn or cut out 500 calories a day. So that means coupled with your 30-minute workout, you still need to cut out 220 calories from your diet, which most likely does not translate to eating everything in sight. Research actually proves that "abs are made in the kitchen," which means that what you eat — focusing on eating healthy portions throughout the day — can be even more important than how much you work out.