1. The wrong focus
“Many people, women especially, prioritise weight loss over health,” says Stephanie Moore, Clinical Nutritionist at Twenty-five Harley Street. “It’s totally the wrong focus. Get heathy and the weight will come off. Crash diets, extreme eating and exercise protocols and diet drinks and pills can only ever work in the short term, if at all, as these protocols are unsustainable and unhealthy.”
According to Moore, once you stop, the weight will pile back on and be harder to lose next time. “It is crucial to understand that what you eat gives your body information about how to function, for example wholesome, natural foods will mean good function, processed, refined foods will mean poor function. So, if you eat largely a wholefood-based, high fibre diet with plenty of natural fats and proteins, your body will thrive and you will effortlessly lose weight.
2. Not drinking enough
According to Clinical Dietician Rick Miller, not glugging back enough h20 is a common error by those looking to shape up. “Drinking (water, not wine!) regularly is incredibly important when you’re trying to improve your body shape” he says. “I recommend my clients to consume 2.0-3.0L of fluids per day, from water and herbal tea as they can often mistake hunger for dehydration. If you’re struggling to drink more water, try adding a couple of drops of peppermint oil, some mint leaves, some sliced lemon, limes or fresh berries to add more vitamins and a more pleasant taste.”
3. Cutting out the WRONG foods
Eating less is something dieters try to do, but Rick Miller says a common error is not to eat enough, when it comes to veggies. “One of the biggest problems I see is not enough vegetables on the plate, vegetables and salads are rich in so many vitamins, minerals, fibre and trace elements that help us to slim down,” says Miller. “The fibre in these foods fill us up and that naturally creates a ‘deficit’ in calories so we start to lose weight. Research suggests '5-a-day' is just not enough, it’s more like 10 per day! So get inventive in the kitchen, raw, roasted, boiled or grilled, add spices, herbs and good fats to make sure you’re adding a rainbow of vegetables to your plate.”
4. Calorie counting
It’s a common dieting logic. Look for low calorie foods and expect the pounds to fall off. After all, food calories are all equal, aren’t they? Not so, says Stephanie Moore. “It simply makes no biological sense,” she argues. “When we eat healthy, high calorie foods like nuts, coconut, avocados and olive oil, these foods balance and improve biological function plus provide us with energy. Lower calorie, processed foods such as low-fat spreads, zero-fat yogurts and diet-bars, offer very little by way of nourishment and they provide no good use for the body, so are much more likely to be stored as body fat. It’s all about quality of the foods you choose and not about the calories they contain.”
5. Not being gut friendly
Don’t underestimate the importance of a healthy gut when it comes to weight loss.
Stephanie Moore is a big fan of bacteria. “The trillions of beneficial bacteria in our digestive system greatly influence what happens to the foods we eat - are they stored or are they burned,” she says. “Feed your gut bacteria well - they love fibre from vegetables, nuts & seeds, pulses, and they are supported by live, probiotic foods like organic, live natural yogurt, dairy kefir, raw sauerkraut & kimchi. These foods contain billions of helpful bacteria that can help to manage our weight.”
6. Chewing wrong
The key to keeping your weigh steady is to stop chewing like a person who’s overweight – seriously. Wolfing down your food like there’s no tomorrow won’t do your waistline any favours. Rick Miller explains: “Your hunger signals, much like your muscles are ‘trainable’ and with a few consistent tips, you can retrain your mind to improve fullness and satisfaction,” he says. “Try to take your time with eating, at least 15-20 minutes per meal and chew your food slowly (put the fork down in-between bites!) - 20-25 ‘chews’ is a good start. Not only will this aid digestion (keeping the tummy flatter and less bloated), you’ll enjoy your food more and it will be easier to stick to your nutrition plan.”
7. Ignoring sleep and stress
A lack of sleep and stress are huge factors that will stop your body losing weight. “Stress hormones increase appetite and fat storing, poor sleep greatly inhibits fat-burning,” explains Moore. “There’s also the fact sleeplessness leaves you so tired that you need more stress hormones to keep you going the next day - so the cycle persists and your attempts at weight loss fail - more stress! So, take time to wind down at least an hour before bed - no screens, no work, no late-night eating. Use mindfulness or other relaxation techniques to slow the mind before bed and try having an Epsom salt bath. The magnesium in the Epsom salts are great at relaxing the body and mind. Sprinkle in some lavender essential oil to further induce a calm and restful state.
Rick Miller is a consultant clinical and sports performance dietitian who works both in the NHS and in private practice. Stephanie Moore is a clinical nutritionist and one of Vogue UK’s 'The Fresh Faces of Wellbeing'.