Adhering to a healthy way of eating requires commitment and hard work. When you are putting all of that effort into improving your physical health, the last thing you want is to be wasting your time by making mistakes following outdated or inaccurate recommendations. Check out these top six dieting mistakes to avoid.
1. Counting Calories. The problem with counting calories is that it puts the emphasis on the wrong thing. Despite what you may have been told, all calories are not created equally. Some calories, like those in sugary candy bars, cause glucose spikes that lead to insulin spikes and fat retention. Others, like those in healthy fats, lead to satiety and benefits such as heart health.
2. Buying into Processed Diet Foods. Diet companies spend billions of dollars each year to get you to buy into their hype. Unfortunately, the bars and drinks they want you to buy are often chemical laden. Your body can scarcely recognize them as food. Further, depriving your body of true nutrition and often leading to overeating later, defeating the purpose of eating the diet food in the first place. Stick with real, whole foods for better nutrition and better diet outcomes.
3. Relying on Artificial Sweeteners. The appeal of artificial sweeteners is obvious: enjoy all the sweet taste without any of the calories. What many people may not know is that these sweet substitutes may skew your taste buds’ perception of what is sweet. The result is that your internal scale of what is sweet is skewed making you want to eat more sugar than you would otherwise, leading to the very weight gain you were likely trying to avoid by choosing artificial sweeteners. Additionally, there is still much debate on what damage these artificial sweeteners may do to our health long term. Your best bet is to cut them out and let your taste buds readjust.
4. Jumping on the Fad Diet Bandwagon. Without doubt fad diets hold appeal—typically, they promise fast results with minimal effort. The problem is that they are often nothing more than crash diets that will lead to, at best, temporary results and, at worst, dangers to your health. CNN.com lists dangers of these extreme diets as resulting in slowing metabolism, weakening the immune system, and overtime damaging your heart. Instead stick with research-based diet plans that are based on what is best for your body and your health.
5. Fearing Fat. A couple of decades ago there was a popular, but erroneous, belief that eating fat made you fat. Though this belief was never research based and has since been widely disproved, many dieters still fall prey to this inaccurate propaganda. In reality, healthy fats from nuts, avocados, many meats, and more are a valuable part of feeling full and building lean muscle mass.
6. Substituting Exercise for Healthy Eating. Unquestionably, exercise is an important partner in the battle for wellness, but it is not a substitute for healthy eating. Following a healthy, nutritionally-sound diet is the best way to lose weight and improve health. Exercise is a terrific and important complement to this and provides important, unique benefits of its own. People falter when they assume that because they are following an exercise regime they don’t need to adhere to a healthy way of eating (hey I just ran five miles, I deserve that doughnut!). A typical exercise regime does not burn enough calories to counteract the calories consumed in an indulgent diet 9and don’t forget point number 1-a calorie is not a calorie) and the nutritional benefits of a healthy diet cannot be replaced by exercise. Make both diet and exercise key parts of a healthy lifestyle.