Overly restrictive diets and unrealistic expectations are two of the most commonly seen mistakes that people make. Many people eliminate entire food groups, make too many changes at once or eat very low calorie diets (<1,200 calories per day). In the beginning, when motivation is high, people often lose weight on these diets because they are creating calorie deficits. However, it is extremely difficult to maintain these diets for a long period of time. Eventually, people get bored and go back to old eating patterns, or they overeat in a moment of “weakness” and give up because they feel like a failure. The weight is usually regained very quickly, and often people end up weighing more than when they originally started the diet.
Sorting Out Fact From Fiction…
Advertisements and marketing gimmicks make people believe that they can lose weight very rapidly (i.e.: 30 pounds in 30 days). The fact is that there are 3,500 calories in a pound of fat. Therefore, a 105,000 calorie deficit would be needed to lose 30 pounds of fat. If a 5’5″ women weighing 175 pounds would like to lose this weight in 30 days, she would need to eat nothing and walk 15 miles each day! These unrealistic expectations cause people to get discouraged and give up when they don’t see the numbers on the scale go down fast enough.
What is a more realistic plan?
A better approach is to set more realistic goals and focus on diet and exercise changes that you can maintain for life. A healthy rate for weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week, and this can be achieved with a well balanced diet that includes foods from all food groups. This variety can help to ensure that the diet is meeting nutritional needs, since each food group provides its own unique combination of nutrients. Small changes made over time can equal big results, and they are often more effective than drastic ones at producing long-term weight loss. In fact, cutting 150 calories per day can lead to a 15-pound weight loss over the course of a year. This could be as simple as eliminating one 12-ounce soda daily.