Ask An Expert: Why Your Diet Isn’t Working

It's extremely frustrating when you're trying to lose weight that doesn't seem to want to come off. But rather than blaming your body or thinking that you're “meant to be at your current weight,” it could just be one small change you need to make. That's why we went to the experts to find out the most common reasons why you may not be able to lose the weight.

1) Calling it a diet.
The word “diet” tends to have a negative connotation to it-bringing up other words like deprivation and suffering (and torture?). Diets tend to have a start and an abrupt finish, and once they're over, it's very common for people to revert to their old habits and pack on the pounds. Successful weight loss is more of a journey or a lifestyle change. “By thinking about food differently and looking at the benefits of healthy eating and lifestyle changes you will have greater success,” says Bonita Springs, FL, dietician Karyn Capozzo. “Healthy eating does not have an end date like a diet, so plan on having days that are not ‘perfection.'”

2) Relying on Exercise.
It turns out that many people focus on exercise to help them lose weight. “While exercise is important, 80 percent of any changes are the result of a fat burning diet and 20 percent are the result of exercises that shape the body and build muscle,” says New York City personal trainer, nutritionist and founder of the Brooklyn Bridge Boot Camp Ariane Hundt. That means that the best way to achieve lasting weight loss is to start with a clean diet that consists of lean protein and vegetables.

3) Treating all calories the same.
We've all pretty much grown up on the thought that weight loss is all about calories in and calories out, and that if we stick to a certain amount of calories, we'll lose weight. But as we've previously reported, not all calories are the same. Hundt says that that it's not so much about how many calories you consume but where they come from. “100 calories of ice cream have a fat storage effect, while 100 calories of chicken (protein) has a fat burning effect. Knowing what foods are fat burning foods and which promote fat storage is crucial in achieving lasting fat loss and a lean body.”

4) Not eating enough or at all.
It seems to make sense that cutting out a meal or two will help you drop the L-Bs, but it could actually hurt you in the long run. “Skipping meals will halt any weight loss efforts,” says Capozzo. “Your body needs fuel to operate properly and efficiently. By fueling your body throughout the day you are not ‘starving' by evening and you will have less desire to eat anything and everything you can get your hands on.” So basically, depriving yourself will only cause you to eat more in the long run.

5) Skipping breakfast.
You've probably heard this one before, but nearly every nutritionist we spoke to agreed that skipping breakfast was one of the biggest diet mistakes you could make. “Studies show that regular breakfast eaters weigh less and consume less calories,” says Duarte, CA, dietician Sharon Palmer. “This is especially true if you eat a high quality breakfast with healthy carbs such as whole grains like oats, unsweetened fruit, and protein, such as milk, yogurt or an egg. Eating a balanced breakfast keeps your blood glucose stable so you feel less hungry later on.”

6) Rewarding yourself with food.
We know, it's awfully tempting to reward yourself with a molten chocolate lava cake after losing five pounds. And while you're not going to gain the weight back from one cake, it's the thinking behind it that's counter productive. We're trained from a very early age to reward ourselves with food. Just think about all those times you've celebrated some achievement where food was involved. Odds are that the majority of the time it was. So instead reward yourself with a zero calorie treat like a pedicure or a massage whenever you reach a new weigh loss goal.

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