If you're struggling to lose weight you might want to change these 3 habits
A few habit changes can lead to big results!
There are many factors that can affect our ability to lose weight, not all of which are easy to identify or change. But a few habits can have a huge effect on our total caloric intake.
1. Eat Fewer Restaurant & Fast Food Meals
Whether you eat at the finest restaurants or grab the dollar menu at the closest fast food joint - if you consume more calories than you burn, you will not lose weight. The problem with dining out, regardless of quality, is that you tend to consume a lot more calories than you realize. Ironically, it might be easier to control calories at fast food restaurants if you make choices based upon the calories listed on the menu board.
Bottom line: dine out less frequently from any establishment.
2. Eat Fewer Processed Foods
Another area where I see people get into trouble is the consumption of mostly processed foods. While it is true that calories are the bottom line when it comes to weight loss, be aware that Nutrition Facts panels have errors in their calories and nutrient totals. As well, we tend to eat more calories from highly processed foods that are engineered to be "crave-worthy." That is, we eat more when foods contain high levels of fat, sugar, and salt. Unprocessed foods tend to highlight just one taste and if a plant food, are also a good source of fiber and water content. All of these factors affect our satisfaction and caloric intake.
Processed foods that are low in fiber and are nearly 100% digestible also impact the type of microbes that set up shop in our gut. Our gut bacteria affect how our body handles the sugar and fat we consume, as well as possibly affecting the number of calories we absorb.
Nutrition information for unprocessed or minimally processed foods (e.g. fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts/seeds, oils, plain meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk, cheese, etc) comes from the USDA Standard Reference Food Composition Database. The USDA tests multiple samples of each type of food to arrive at an average nutrient content. I trust the calories and nutrient data for minimally and unprocessed food items far more than I do for processed or restaurant chain foods.
3. Consume Fewer Beverage Calories
People are often surprised at how many calories they drink once they start tracking their intake. Unfortunately, caloric beverages do not seem to fill us up - we don't compensate by consuming fewer food calories. Instead, we simply piggyback beverage calories onto food calories with the end result being a much higher total calorie intake.
Most of us know that regular soda can add a lot of calories to a meal or snack. But there are many beverages that add a huge calories burden to our meals. Be sure to read the food label - many drinks contain added sugars in various forms.
Here is a short list of high calorie beverages:
- Alcoholic drinks
- Sweetened teas
- Sweetened coffee drinks
- Coconut water
- Chai & espresso drinks made with syrup and cream
- Creamers - adds up with multiple drinks a day
- Energy Drinks
- Juice - 100% juice or juice drinks
What about milk? Nonfat milk has 80 calories per cup whereas whole milk has 150 calories per cup. Milk also has water, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Apparently, regular consumption of nonfat or whole milk does not appear to be related to weight gain over time. And to be clear, we are talking about consumption of plain milk, not flavored milk products.
These three habits can sabotage a person's ability to lose weight since they typically promote a higher caloric intake. Although there are other factors that can affect weight, working on these three habits will go a long way in helping you lower your caloric intake while also encouraging consumption of healthier foods and beverages.
Originally published on 18 February 2014
Updated September 2, 2019
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