It’s probably no surprise to you that as a dietitian, a lot of people come to see me to help them lose weight. Many of them have tried everything under the sun and just can’t get their weight to shift – so if you’re in the same basket, I can reassure you that you’re not alone.
Unlike most commercial weight loss programs, I don’t offer a quick fix or a magic bullet – and I’m certainly not going to tell you that you need to eliminate carbs, stop eating fruit or give up your favourite food (seriously, who wants to live in a world without chocolate anyway?). Rather, I’m all about sustainable lifestyle changes that you are going to stick with in the long haul.
When it comes to weight loss woes, it’s usually the same culprits that pop up time and time again. So here, I’m going to share with you some of the most common reasons people are struggling to lose weight (or are putting weight on) – and how to fix them, for good.
1. Forgetting about portion size
Portions, portions, portions. The importance of portion size is nothing new – but it’s something that so many people get drastically wrong.
So, to get you up to speed, here’s a quick portion guide:
- One serve of grains = one slice of bread, a quarter of a cup of muesli or half a cup of cooked rice, pasta or quinoa
- One serve of protein = 65 grams of cooked red meat, 80 grams of cooked poultry, 100 grams of cooked fish, two eggs, one cup of legumes or 170 grams of tofu
- One serve of dairy = one cup of milk, three quarters of a cup of yoghurt or two slices of hard cheese
- One serve of fruit = one banana, two kiwis or a cup of berries or grapes
- One serve of veg = one cup of raw or half a cup of cooked vegetables
To put that into perspective, if you’re a female between the ages of 19-50, you’re recommended to have six serves grains, two and a half serves of protein, two and a half serves of dairy, two serves of fruit and five serves of veg a day.
2. Sabotaging snack time
There’s no doubt about it, snacks can make or break a healthy diet – and if you’re struggling to lose weight, reassessing your snack game could pay off, big time. I frequently see people who eat relatively healthy main meals resort to chips, chocolate or lollies come 3pm. Can you just imagine the impact on your waistline of having a piece of fruit or tub of yoghurt instead?
3. Drinking too much
Now you probably won’t like me for saying this, but alcohol is a major drain on your daily calorie budget. Think of it this way: alcohol has 7 calories per gram. There’s 10 grams of alcohol in a standard drink, so that’s 70 calories just from the alcohol in one standard drink – and who pours just one standard drink? If you’re drinking wine, you’re likely to get around one and a half, and if cocktails are your thing, it could be two, three or even more standard drinks a pop.
My top tip is to include at least two alcohol free days a week, and do your best to stick to just one or two standard drinks at each drinking occasion.
4. Having an all or nothing mindset
Picture this: it’s Monday morning. Your diet starts today! You’ve had rolled oats and no-fat Greek yoghurt for breakfast. For morning tea, you’ve packed 10 almonds and an apple, followed by a garden salad for lunch. And when you get home, you’re going to cook a piece of salmon with steamed veg for dinner.
But once you get to work you realise it’s your colleague’s birthday and you really want a slice of that birthday cake. So you blow it, have the cake and wait until next Monday morning. Sound familiar?
This common dieting trap is where SOmany people get stuck – but it really shouldn’t be about all or nothing. I think it’s far more important to set yourself small, realistic goals and work on them over time, rather than jump into a major lifestyle overhaul that’s far too unrealistic.
5. Not moving your body enough
Although it’s not food-related, this one is a big deal. Not only is exercise an important part of weight management, but it has a raft of health perks associated with it. In terms of weight loss, here’s how it works: sure, you burn some energy when you’re getting sweaty. But, you’re also building muscle, which takes more energy to maintain than fat mass, so you’re increasing your metabolism, too.
That doesn’t mean you have to do a gruelling pump class everyday – all that matters is that you find movement that you enjoy and can stick to, and the rest is history.
Melissa Meier is an online and Sydney-based Accredited Practising Dietitian. You can connect with her at www.honestnutrition.com.au or on Instagram @honest_nutrition.