By Sarah Skalzub, RHN
It all sounds so good, the endless promises and guarantees that just by following a miracle diet you’ll lose weight fast, keep it off—and get that bikini body, instantly. You’ve heard it all before, and seen many fad diets come and go, but one thing I’ve learned, whether I’ve tried them out, or sat back at watched, is that these fads never last. Here are the top five horrible pieces of weight management advice I’ve heard, that, well to put it bluntly, just don’t work long-term.
1. “Whatever you do, just don’t eat this.”
Whenever a diet asks you to cut out a major macronutrient (that your body needs to function properly!), you know it’s not going to end pretty. Quick refresher: macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, all of which are essential for your body to function at its best. Carbohydrates are what your body uses as energy for your daily activities. Fats— good fats of course—are essential for many different functions in your body. And protein is the building block of muscle, and you need it to help your body repair and rebuild tissue daily. .
While fat-free or no-carb diets may be beneficial to individuals with certain health concerns, if it’s weight loss you’re after, you might want to try an approach more sustainable that’s going to give you the energy and strength to take your full life head-on, day after day, not deplete it. Eating a well-balanced diet including all your good quality macronutrients is a great start for successful weight management.
2. “I found the magic pill.”
It hurts to hear, but there’s no one little pill you can take to make the weight magically melt off your body for the rest of your life.
Anyone who promises their magic pill (or bean) will solve everything you wish was different about your weight, is selling lies and making a lucrative profit off of your personal goals— which they have no ability or interest in helping you achieve.
Let’s be real: long-term weight management is all about moderation, and eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients–that’s what will give you the energy you’ll need to live an active life. Exercise and a healthy diet go hand-in-hand when it comes to weight management..
3. “You’ll lose 10 pounds in 10 days!”
Doesn’t this sound fantastic?! While you might be able to achieve this, by fasting or drastically cutting your calories, this is not sustainable, and chances are as soon as you go back to your routine, the weight will find its way back to your waistline.
Long-term sustainable weight management will happen when you develop a routine and slowly start to crowd the not-as-great stuff out by adding in more good-for-you foods. Keep in mind: this won’t happen overnight—this small-changes approach is one that can last a lifetime, and get better over time. Kind of like a fine wine.
4. “Count every calorie/macro”
Not all calories are created equal, and when it comes to being ultimately healthy from the inside out, you want to ensure you’re providing your body with foods that are a great source of micronutrients—not just the right amount of calories.
For example, say a bag of potato chips has the exact same amount of calories as a slice of whole grain bread with some avocado sliced on top, seasoned artfully with fresh dill and lemon juice. Which one of these is going to serve your body better? You’re going to eat that bag of potato chips, or eat avocado toast (that has whole grains, B vitamins and good fats). There are certainly some days that enjoying potato chips may be what you need. Most days you may decide to reach for the avocado toast.
For long-term weight management, look at the nutrients a piece of food contains before the calories. Guess what? Many plant-based foods are naturally nutrient dense. Let’s hear it for nutrient dense fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds!
5. “It doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you follow this workout routine”
Don’t get me wrong, movement is definitely part of a healthy routine. But just because you went for a run in the morning or hit the gym, doesn’t mean you get a free-pass to eat whatever you want later on. Just like getting a workout in at sunrise doesn’t mean your body needs a whole cheesecake for a dessert, it also doesn’t mean that you need to track every calorie you burned in a spreadsheet.
If you did a sweaty workout at the gym or in a group exercise class you’re going to want to supply your body with the right building blocks to replenish energy, repair and rebuild. What could help you achieve your goals while keeping you feeling good about your choices? Try whipping up a high-protein smoothie post-workout. Using your favorite Vega® protein product, toss in some of your favorite fruits and veggies and you have yourself a recipe for both exercise and healthy eating. This Strawberry Banana Smoothie is one of my favorite post-workout shakes.
What I’ve learned along the way is that no single diet is going to work for everybody. It’s all about taking it back to the basics and finding out what works for you. Focus on adding more plants, eating mindfully, moving more, and finding the right balance you need. If you’re struggling with your weight, or don’t know where to start, talk to your health care practitioner or registered dietitian to help created a customized health plan for you.