5 Common Weight Loss Mistakes

Losing weight is hard. We all know that. Sometimes we make it harder than it already is by doing the wrong thing--even if we don't realize it. So instead of shedding pounds, we put them on.

U.S. News & World Report interviewed various weight loss experts to find out the most common dieting mistakes.

1. Eating too few calories
The Mistake: It's a fact of life that your body needs a minimum amount of calories to function. But when you begin a diet, it's tempting to drastically cut your calories so you'll see instant weight loss. Personal trainer and wellness coach Tammie Dubberly says she has seen people cut calories so severely that their bodies actually enter a state of famine. Your body fights back by learning to store fat and resetting your metabolism. The result: You will lose weight at first, but when you start eating again, you'll gain even more.

The Fix: Decrease your daily caloric intake by a healthy amount. Yes, it will take longer to lose the weight, but you'll be far more likely to keep off the weight.

2. Cutting out all carbohydrates
The Mistake: When you eliminate pastries, desserts and white pasta from your diet, you are cutting carbs. And that's a good thing. When you eliminate sweet potatoes, corn, beans, quinoa and brown rice from your diet, you are cutting complex carbs. And that's a bad thing. Not all carbs are created equal. Your body needs carbohydrates to metabolize food into energy.

The Fix: Include complex carbs in your meal plan twice a day and more if you are exercising, advises registered dietitian Anna Rossinoff. Her suggestion: Cook a big pot of whole grains at the beginning of the week to have on hand to throw on salads, mix into soups, scramble into eggs or eat with cinnamon and dried fruit and vanilla extract as a sweet treat.

3. Eating "diet" foods
The Mistake: Many processed foods are advertised as being "healthy," "low fat" or "low carb." Cereal bars may not contain sugar, but they're packed with artificial ingredients. Ice cream may be fat-free, but it's loaded with sugar and calories. "Since people think these foods are actually healthy, they eat more than they would have if they ate the 'unhealthy' version," says registered dietitian Keri Glassman, author of "The New You and Improved Diet." She adds, "Even if they say they are healthy. It's just a marketing tactic."

The Fix: Eat real food instead of fake, processed foods.

4. Eliminating foods you love
The Mistake: You love pizza. And fries. And don't forget chocolate! It's easy to think that if you're dieting, these foods are off limits. But when you banish your favorite foods from your diet, cravings ensue--and it's all too easy to give into them. You could end up eating the entire pizza and the whole bag of chocolate.

The Fix: Registered dietitian Keri Gans, author of "The Small Change Diet," encourages you to incorporate your favorite, high-calorie foods into your weight loss plan. For example, eat fries with your burger but skip the bun.

5. Focusing on the finish line
The Mistake: Most people who go on a diet just want to be done with it. Lose the weight already! While there are ways to lose weight fast, what you really want to do is lose weight gradually because you're more likely to keep it off in the long run. After all, it's very tempting to return to your old eating patterns once you get to your targeted weight.

The Fix: "Once you step on the scale and see the long-awaited goal number, you're not done. That next day, you have to do everything you did the day before. And you have to do it for the rest of your life," says behavioral health expert Lisette Cifaldi. "Any eating plan needs to be something you can slowly build into your life and think, 'I could do this. Forever.'"

--From the Editors at Netscape

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