Three Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Efforts
by Dr. Richard Foxx
If you’re trying to lose or manage weight, you’re sure of one thing: it can be very difficult. It can also be disheartening because oftentimes, despite your best efforts, it rarely works. Even when you’re eating “clean,” healthy, and nutritious meals and getting exercise, your efforts may stagnate, move slowly, or rarely even make a difference.
This happens because there are small and subtle ways you might be sabotaging yourself. They might even surprise you.
Your friend who always chooses healthy food options, controls their portion sizes, and limits tasty treats most of the time isn’t being guided by magic. And although genetics can play a role, your friend is able to control their weight because they are conscious of the things you might not be aware of. There’s really no secret to weight loss: the key is awareness. Here are three ways you might be sabotaging your efforts and how awareness can help you regain control over your weight loss.
1. Snacking by the Handful
Everybody likes a treat from time to time. For example, I love chocolate-covered almonds, raisins, and peanuts. If I’m not careful, though, things can get messy. To control my portion sizes, I buy my treats from the bulk food store, not in pre-packaged bags from the grocery store. This way, I end up with small portions that limit my serving size. If I fill my bag a little too much, I take it home, pour a small serving into a measuring cup and hide the rest in the refrigerator or freezer.
A research team also found that when people eat treats that are individually wrapped, they eat about two pieces less, on average. Think of a dish of Hershey’s Kisses and a dish of M&Ms. When people have to unwrap each individual candy like Hershey’s Kisses, as opposed to just digging in for a handful of M&Ms, they are likely to eat less. The effort required to unwrap a treat is enough to deter them from going in for more! Additionally, it’s easy to lose track of how much you’re eating when you’re taking handfuls. Leaving a paper trail of packaging shows you just how much you’ve had and can be a great form of control! If you need a treat, buy sweets that are individually wrapped to save you all kinds of calories.
2. Overestimating the Impact of Your Exercise
This is a big one. It’s very common for people to overestimate the number of calories they burn during an activity or exercise session. For example, you’re not burning 500 calories on a 20-minute walk. A half-hour walk on a flat surface at a brisk pace, say four miles per hour (mph), will only burn about 170 calories for a 140-lb. woman. For a 160-lb. man to burn 350 calories, he’d have to walk at a brisk pace, say at 3.5 mph, on a treadmill set at an incline of 12.5. That’s a lot of work!
A study published in The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness showed how much people tend to overestimate calories burned through exercise. It asked participants to walk on a treadmill for a half-hour, then eat the equivalent of the calories they thought they’d burned at a buffet. Lost calories were estimated at three to four times the actual rate and participants overcompensated by eating two to three times more calories after the workout. Basically, a half-hour walk at a brisk pace is barely enough exercise to burn off a muffin. In order to avoid this, get a good understanding of how many calories you burn during exercise and how many calories are in your food selection.
3. Eating off Big, White Plates
Research from Cornell University found that people who eat white, starchy food from a white plate tend to eat too much. In fact, they eat 22% more than when the same food appears on a plate of contrasting color. So, if you’re having a big bowl of spaghetti or some dinner rolls, make sure the plate you’re using is green, black, or anything but white!
Conversely, if you’re eating foods you want to eat more of, say vegetables or salads, eat them from a similarly colored plate. The ultimate idea is that you want contrasting colors for high-calorie foods and similar colors for nutritious choices.
In the same vein, you can work at controlling portion sizes by electing to eat from a smaller plate. If you don’t have as much room to keep adding calories, you won’t. Most of the time, all the nutrition you need can fit on a small plate!
These little things you might be doing subconsciously can have a major impact on your weight loss efforts. Pay attention to these sneaky saboteurs and hopefully, you’ll experience some success!
Sources for Today’s Article:
- Melone, L., “10 Bizarre Reasons You Eat Too Much,” Prevention web site, 2014; http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/10-bizarre-reasons-you-eat-too-much?s=1, last accessed April 10, 2014.
- Brunner, T., “It Takes Some Effort. How Minimal Physical Effort Reduces Consumption Volume,” Science Direct web site, December 2013; http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0195666313003437, last accessed April 10, 2014.
- Willbond, S., “Normal Weight Men and Women Overestimate Exercise Energy Expenditure,” National Institutes of Health web site, December 2010; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21178922, last accessed April 10, 2014.
- Wansink, B., “The Visual Illusions of Food: Why Plates, Bowls and Spoons Can Bias Consumption Volume,” FASEB Journal web site, 2006; http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/meeting_abstract/20/4/A618-c, last accessed April 10, 2014.
Richard M. Foxx, MD has decades of medical experience with a comprehensive background in endocrinology, aesthetic and laser medicine, gynecology, and sports medicine. He has extensive experience with professional athletes, including several Olympic competitors. Dr. Foxx practices aesthetic and laser medicine, integrative medicine, and anti-aging medicine. He is the founder and Medical Director of the Medical and Skin Spa located in Indian Wells, California, at the Hyatt Regency Resort. Dr. Foxx is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and is a member of the American Academy of Anti-aging Medicine, the American Academy of Aesthetic Medicine, the International Academy of Cosmetic Dermatology, and a Diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
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