Tell me, have you ever had this experience...
You're working hard towards your goals, you are following program after program, diet after diet, and you are following them to an absolute T. You are doing everything right, following every rule and guideline, and the scale just isn't budging and it is driving you mad. Meanwhile, you look around and see your friend Susan quitting her nightly cookie ritual and she drops 20 pounds in 10 days.
Super frustrating, I know. But allow me to let you in on a little secret... even the programs with the best of intentions can give you advice that may actually be sabotaging you and your goals.
Which is why, in this post, I wanted to point out some of the common misconceptions about weight loss and the tactics it takes to get there.
The Top 5 Diet Blunders Standing in the Way of Your Goals
In the wake of the keto craze (and low carb diets in general), fruit has gotten a bad rap for being a high sugar item that's going to make you pack on the pounds. It simply isn't true. In fact, I would love to meet someone who is 10, 20, or 100 pounds overweight because they ate too many apples.
The reason sugar makes you gain weight isn't because of the sugar itself; it's because simple sugar causes spikes in blood sugar which signals your body to release hormones that make you store fat.
But fruit, with all of its fiber and nutrient goodness, doesn't spike blood sugar the way processed sugar does. And if you are still concerned about it, eat fruit in the first half of the day (so your body is sure to use it as fuel) and eat it with some healthy fat and protein and you'll be good to go. (For more info on how to control your blood sugar to help control your weight, click here.)
When you cut out fruit, you are cutting out massive amounts of disease-fighting, age-defying, energy-giving antioxidants and phytonutrients. The compounds in fruit help protect DNA from damage, decrease risk of cancer and heart disease, and are one of the cleanest sources of carbohydrates you're going to find.
And even though we live in a carb-fearing culture at the moment, the truth is, your brain and your muscles rely heavily on carbs for fuel to run as efficiently as possible.
Yes, you might save a few calories by choosing artificial sweeteners over natural ones. But here's the thing, artificial sweeteners have been shown to block the signals in your brain that signal when you're full. So while you might save 16 calories in your morning coffee, you may find that you end up eating 300 calories more over the course of the day.
And that's just talking from a weight loss perspective. From a health perspective, artificial sweeteners have been linked to different types of cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Just to name a few.
Yup, we're bringing it back to the cult of keto (for my epic blog post about what keto is, why it works short term, why you should stay away, and how to get similar effects without the dangers click here.)
It is the current trend for weight loss programs to preach high protein, high fat, low carb diets for weight loss. And while it may work in the short term for weight loss, and certainly helps sell a lot of programs, the long term effects will leave you sorely disappointed.
Let me start by saying carbohydrates do not make you fat, and not all carbohydrates are created equal. Overeating carbs, or anything else, will make you gain weight. And eating a highly processed, simple carbs diet will make it much more challenging to lose weight. But a diet high in chips, crackers, pastas, and baked goods will have an extremely different effect compared to a diet based in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Your body truly does need carbs (especially if you workout) in order to fuel your muscles, give you energy, aid in digestion, and keep your mind and body running on all cylinders. There's a reason low-carb diets are notorious for fatigue and brain fog.
I mentioned above that including healthy carbs is especially important if you workout. Well the same is true if you deal with any amount of stress in your life. Most of us run highly stressed lives which puts a drain on our adrenals (and causes spikes in cortisol, known to cause higher levels of fat accumulation around the midsection), and guess what helps the adrenals function better and recuperate... carbs!
And all of that isn't even touching on the fact that eating a diet of mainly fat and protein is extremely hard on your system. It's hard to digest, hard to break down, and causes unnecessary stress on your already overworked system.
So all of that is to say, when it comes to nutrition, say it with me, balance is key!
The absolute number one thing responsible for your weight is your energy balance. That is, calories in vs. calories out. If you burn more than your eat, you will lose weight. If you eat more than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat the same amount that you burn, you will maintain weight.
So, even if you are eating the healthiest items in the world, if you overeat them and push your calories too high, you will still gain weight.
With that being said, is it harder to overeat if you're eating healthy? Yes. Just look at how much broccoli you have to eat to hit 100 calories compared to a Snickers bar. But even still, if you're doing everything right and feel like your diet is super clean and you aren't losing weight. It's time to re-check those portion sizes.
If you look at any packaged food in the grocery store, you're going to be hit with all kinds of buzzwords: gluten free, organic, vegan, pasture raised, all natural, etc. But these buzzwords do not translate to "healthy" like you might think.
An organic cookie is still a cookie. Vegan foods can still be packed with artificial ingredients. Pasture raised can still mean the animals are stuck in a small pen. Gluten free is only beneficial if you have an actual intolerance to it. And all natural literally means nothing, there is no regulation for it.
Now of course I'm not going to leave you high and dry saying, "don't buy into buzzwords" without giving you some guidance on what you should look for. Which is why I've created a cheat sheet for you that will help clarify some of the main food labels, explain what exactly to look for in your food choices, and give you a list of danger zone labels and ingredients you should steer clear of if you want to lose weight and feel better.
I know, it may seem like the safest option when you're out to eat with friends. I can't tell you how many times I've had clients tell me "I ordered the caesar salad because that was the healthiest option."
Believe it or not, salads can be some of the highest calorie menu items. Between high fat dressings, fried croutons, tortilla strips, nuts, seeds, cheese, and other high calorie toppings, a salad can quickly jump over 1000 calories.
So what to do? If you can, find an entree that is largely built on protein and veggies. For example, you could get a chicken sandwich, remove the bun, and ask for whatever vegetable side they have available.
Or if you do have a strong desire to get that salad, order dressing and all fatty toppings (like the ones mentioned above) on the side so you can manage your portions accordingly.
To figure out exactly how much of those toppings you can use in good conscience, download your free portions guide and ideal meal template below.