By Debbie Herbst, RD, LD, CDE
Mercy Hospital Carthage
Have you tried a low-fat diet? Atkins? Slimfast? Cabbage soup? Paleo? Have you started walking or tried an exercise class and still can’t lose weight?
Losing weight is not easy; however, if you have tried to lose weight consistently with no success, let’s look at possible reasons:
Are you drinking your calories? Regular pop, sweetened tea and fruit drinks have many “empty” calories. If you drink these beverages, you likely won’t feel as full and won’t realize how many calories they contain. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of pop has 240 calories, while a 32-ounce sweet tea has 220 calories.
Try drinking water first and alternating with other drinks. Other great zero-calorie choices are green tea and flavored waters.
Are you skipping meals? Do you skip breakfast or lunch and eat one large meal a day, thinking this will help you lose weight? The opposite is true. Skipping meals leads to craving sweets and snacks because your body is being starved.
Sleeping does not require many calories, so eating one large meal late in the day and then going to bed leads to extra pounds.
Within one hour of getting up, try to eat a sandwich, yogurt or cereal and milk. This gets your body’s calorie-burning machinery going and can help prevent that intense sweet craving around lunchtime.
The average human body needs fuel or nutrients every four to five hours. When you feel hungry, nourish yourself. In return, you will feel more energetic. Your body will keep burning calories because it is not being starved.
Are you eating too much? This happens when you eat more than the suggested serving size, go back for seconds (resulting in twice the calories) and eat all of the food on your plate at the restaurant instead of taking some home.
An easy way to learn portions is to measure your food at home with measuring cups and a measuring pitcher. Once you know what a half cup of potatoes looks like on a plate, for example, you can correctly know if you are eating a half, 1 or 2 cups.
Trimming back portions is a great way to lose weight because you do not have to give up favorite foods or follow rigid diets.
Are you aware of what and when you eat and drink? Write down your food and drinks. Many people do not remember or are not aware of what and how much they eat and drink.
What about stress, fatigue or habit? By jotting down notes, you may determine that certain situations or feelings cause you to snack or overeat. Carry a little notebook. If you use a smart phone, use a diet log such as MyFitnessPal or LoseIt.
Eat at least one to two fruits and one to two vegetables daily. These are naturally lower in calories and have fiber, which helps you feel full.
Are you exercising once a week or “when the weather is good”? Another reason people struggle with losing weight is a lack of consistent exercise. Experts recommend at least 150 to 250 minutes weekly of physical activity.
Exercise not only burns calories, but it also can help build more muscle for long-term weight control. Exercise helps with managing stress and depression. In turn, you may have fewer cravings.
If you have struggled with weight loss, don’t give up. Long-term changes will mean long-term results.