Been on a diet for weeks, but the scales haven't shifted? You could be committing one of the following seven diet blunders, which stop you from looking and feeling your best. We show you how get back on track.
You're not sleeping enoughIt's a case of snooze and lose weight that is. According to a study at Laval University in Quebec, too much or too little sleep can make you pile on the weight. The study found those sleeping for less than seven hours a night gained 1.82kg over a period of six years. Those sleeping longer gained 1.36kg over the same period.
"Lack of sleep alters the hormone balance that controls your appetite," says Drew Dawson, director of the Centre for Sleep Research at the University of South Australia. "Too little sleep lowers your levels of leptin, which controls your appetite, and increases your level of ghrelin, which makes you crave carbs, such as pasta and pastries."
FIX: So what's the perfect amount of sleep? According to Dawson, we should follow the advice our grandmothers gave us. "Eight hours of work, with eight of hours activity, followed by eight hours of sleep is the ideal, healthy day," he says.
You're eating breakfast at the wrong timeWe all know that skipping breakfast can lead to weight gain, but the time you eat breakfast and what you consume also plays an important role in a weight-loss plan. "It could be that you're not eating enough early in the day. You should eat within one hour of waking," says Sharon Natoli, accredited practicing dietitian and director of Food & Nutrition Australia.
A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found those who ate more protein at breakfast (compared to lunch or dinner) reported a greater initial and sustained feeling of fullness through the day.
FIX: “If you're serious about your weight loss, then include protein-rich foods, such as yoghurt, eggs, nuts and seeds," says Natoli. "This can help make it easier to stick to a lower kilojoule (1 kilojoule = 0.239 kilocalorie) amount each day," she says.
Also, you can help kick-start your metabolism by having a glass of cold water on waking, say German researchers. Add some lemon juice for good measure.
You're using weights at the gymPumping weights can be a great way to improve muscle tone, but just be mindful of how you do it. "When you perform single moves with a weight, such as a bicep curl, you're isolating that muscle while the rest of your body remains static. This means that your body is actually in 'sleep' mode, so it will not be burning fat," says Tracy Anderson, personal trainer to Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow.
FIX: Instead of isolated muscle training, try combining aerobic exercises with resistance weight training. Try moves that work many muscle groups at one time, such as push-ups and lunges. As long as your entire body is moving, you're onto a weight-loss winner.
You had a traumatic time giving birth"If you've had a long labor and a consequently difficult birth, it's natural to seek comfort in food," says psychotherapist Lesley Murdin. "This is the mind's mental response to coping with trauma and seeking comfort, but these behaviors reinforce the traumatic experience, and may lead to addictive habits, such as overeating."
FIX: If you had a difficult time giving birth and are finding it hard to shift extra weight, it may help to speak to a therapist about your feelings surrounding your birth experience. "Treating the trauma, rather than the weight gain, would enable the individual to be in control of their weight and their trauma," says Murdin.
You’re drinking black teaBlack tea is fully fermented, which removes some of its active thermogenic antioxidant ingredients, thereby minimizing its weight-loss enhancing properties. So what should you enjoy instead for your cuppa?
Pu-erh tea, named after the village in southwest China from which it originates, has recently attracted attention for its weight-loss benefits. This is because it’s high in epigallocatechin, a potent antioxidant with thermogenic properties that help the body burn more fat.
Normally, when fat is burned, toxic by-products are produced and the body shuts down fat metabolism while the liver eliminates these. But Pu-erh tea’s antioxidant actions help it to neutralize these toxins, so that the body can continue its fat-burning process.
FIX: Aim to drink about three to five cups of Pu-erh tea per day for optimum results.
You’re on a dietLet’s face it, diets don’t work. “Diets are not the answer to weight issues,” says personal trainer Suzy Gilligan. “Yo-yo dieting confuses your metabolism – sending your body into starvation mode and storing food in case it’s needed later. All this does is make you heavier, since every kilojoule (1 kilojoule = 0.239 kilocalorie) and mouthful is stored on your stomach, bum or thighs.”
FIX: Research shows that women who consistently yo-yo diet are more likely to end up carrying extra weight. Every time you stop dieting and eat normally, your body will then store that fat on certain areas. “So, if you want to avoid thunder thighs and a muffin top, get off the diet bandwagon – you’ll look much better for it,” says Gilligan.
You sit stillYou know those people who fidget a lot? Have you noticed how they tend to be slim, despite eating whatever they like? Scientists from Germany and the US say they have identified a ‘fidget’ code and, if you have it in your genes, you are less likely to be overweight. It seems that people who fidget are actually getting exercise without even being aware of it, says lead researcher professor Mathias Treier.
FIX: But what happens if you’re not a natural fidgeter? Then, think up some strategies to increase movement, such as doing away with the remote control or even knitting.