From skipping meals through daily weighing to having too much coffee. Udi Gon-Paz, a Monaco based clinical nutritionist and functional medicine therapist identifies the most common reasons why your weight seems to be stuck and refuses to decrease.
Mistake # 1 – you are not eating enough
Negative calorie consumption (consuming less calories than you are burning) will only help losing weight in the short term, but if the deficit is too high as to not supply sufficient energy for your basic physiological functions, your metabolism is likely to slow down (which essentially means becoming more energy efficient) which will lead to weight-loss getting stuck. Therefore very-low-calorie diets and starvation menus are not recommended for weight loss and may also be bad for your health
Mistake # 2 – Grazing instead of eating
How many times did you hear (or say) the sentence: “I hardly eat anything, so why is my weight stuck?” It appears that many are not aware of ‘by-the-by’ grazing. Things like the occasional plum, biscuit or cookie and instant coffee 5 times a day. When we’re not eating regular meals, it is very likely that we’ll compensate for it by occasional grazing which we’re unlikely to even remember or take account of. You don’t need to starve to lose weight. Eat regular meals, combine controlled snacks between the meals, and your weight will start moving again.
Mistake # 3 – fasting as compensation for falling off the wagon
Even if we are strict with our diet, we might still, occasionally, fall off the wagon. This might be a bar or chocolate, or a LA durée Macaron that winked at you or even a disappointing portion of French fries. If on the following day you’ve committed yourself to a fast, this would be a huge mistake because fasting reduces the metabolic rate. The same issue of efficiency as with not eating enough. This is particularly true if fasting is done routinely, say once a week. Therefore, if you fall off the wagon, get back to eating regularly. Remember that what counts is not how many times you fell off, but how many times you’ve bounced back.
Mistake # 4 – Weighing yourself daily
Our fast-pacing type of life got us used to instant access to information. However, when it comes to daily weighing, the information can be very misleading and does not reflect the state of our progress. For an accurate picture, once or maximum twice a week is sufficient. The reason is that in daily weighing we must consider changes in body fluids. For example, when we consume a carbohydrate, it is broken and part of it is stored as glycogen. Every gram of glycogen annexe approximately 3ml of water. Another issue to consider is hormonal changes in women that can contribute to a ‘false’ reading. Such reading can be discouraging and unexplainable. It’s best to weigh yourself once a week on the same morning after visiting the toilet and before breakfast.
Mistake # 5 – Complete abstinence from carbs and sweets
Staying away from food we love usually can’t last for a very long time. Therefore self-denial, for example from sweets, is likely to end up with a fall that will put an end to our programme. Furthermore, if we want to lose weight we mustn’t completely abstain from carbs, which supply us with available energy, satiety, regular bowl movements and feel good factor.
Many long-term studies show that after 2 years there’s no difference in weight loss between low carb diets and normal carb menus. It is recommended to consume complex carbs and combine it with the occasional treat (or sweet).
Mistake # 6 – Consuming too much fruit
Let’s start from the top: fruits are great for weight loss. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, fibre and fluids. The have a refreshing taste and they are a simple carb which is the preferred natural carb. However, fruits have a caloric value which is not insignificant, which means that you shouldn’t consume as much as you want of it whilst trying to lose weight. Too much fruit can also be an added risk for diabetics or those who suffer from a fatty liver. Therefore, it is recommended to add fruit to your meal plan, however in moderation.
Mistake # 7 – Eating clean and healthy – possibly too much
Eating clean and healthy is great and it’s great to aspire to it – but too clean and too healthy is not so great and definitely not something to aspire to. At the end of the day, the basis for weight loss is negative calorie consumption and therefore quantities are as important as quality. So if you’ve hit a weight loss plateau, pay attention to how much you consume.
Mistake # 8 – skipping breakfast
Large gaps between waking up in the morning and the time of the first meal in the day can cause weight loss to be stopped. The reason is that breakfast is directly affecting the behaviour of eating during the day and the rate of fat burning in the body.
When you skip breakfast, you naturally arrive at lunch with uncontrollable hunger, eating heavy meals with too much carbohydrates and grazing in the evening. In addition, skipping the breakfast will cause the body to burn less fat, since the source of energy utilisation will be carried out mainly from a breakdown of glycogen stored in the muscle, which means that the body will not be triggered into fat burning without energy available to do so.
Mistake # 9 – drinking too much coffee
Caffeine has been proven to be a catalist for fat burning, but the recommended consumption is limited to 400mg per day, the equivalent amount of about 6 cups of coffee per day. The problem begins with what we add to the coffee – milk and sugar, that can increase the calorie amount in a drink to about 250 kcal to total. Which means that 6 cups a day, can equate to the total calorie of a whole meal.
The recommendation for instant coffee consumption in the process of weight loss is up to 2 cups of coffee per day, on a water basis and a drop of milk.
Mistake # 10 – not using professional help (the big one!)
You’ve tried many times before and sometimes with limited success. The fact is that you’re still not managing to be at the weight you want and you are probably asking yourself if what you’re doing today, or have done previously, is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow. Chances are that you are missing vital information which a professional can help you with.
You are welcome to consult with me on any dietary or stress related issues that are on your mind. Don’t wait for the new year to make a resolution.
Udi Gon-Paz is a Licensed Functional Therapist and Wellness Coach in Monaco, specialising in clinical nutrition and Stress therapy.