8 Common Weight Loss Mistakes + How to Avoid Them

Hint: they’re not as obvious as you may think!

By: Lexy Parsons

Weight loss can be a challenging journey – for anyone! From knowing what to eat for weight loss, to knowing how much to eat or when to eat it, there are so many factors to consider. Plus, exercise, stress, sleep, and overall lifestyle play a huge role! And because there’s no one-size-fits-all solution (not to mention, all of the contradicting information out there), it can be easy to make weight loss mistakes and slow or derail your progress. However, there’s no need to feel overwhelmed or discouraged! To help you achieve your weight loss goals more effectively, we’re breaking down eight common weight loss mistakes. Read on for all you need to know!

8 Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid (& What to Do Instead)

#1 Eating Too Many Calories Or Not Eating Enough 

One common weight loss myth is that the less you eat, the more weight you’ll lose. However, it’s not that simple! For starters, your body needs a certain amount of calories to function properly — and this number will look different for everyone. While overeating can lead to weight gain, under-eating can actually slow your metabolism and hinder your weight loss progress too.

So how do you avoid this weight loss mistake without obsessing over calories and macros (because that’s not the answer, either)? Focus on mindful eating. 

This includes:

  • Listening to (and honoring) your hunger cues
  • Slowing down to chew and enjoy your food
  • Appreciating the taste and texture of your meal
  • Eliminating distractions (like eating while watching TV)
  • Being mindful of portion sizes 

While this isn’t a comprehensive list, these mindful eating tips can help you get started! By doing so, you can avoid undereating, overeating, and ultimately, you can support your weight loss journey by creating a healthier relationship with food.

RELATED: 7 Realistic Ways to Lose Weight Without Restrictive Dieting

#2 You’re Not Eating Enough Protein

Struggling to stay full? Can’t keep your cravings at bay? You may not be eating enough protein. While all macronutrients are important, protein is a crucial component of any weight loss plan. According to research, protein helps boost your metabolism, preserve and build lean muscle mass, keep you feeling full and satiated, and can even curb sugar cravings.For the most nutrient-dense options, you’ll want to reach for lean protein sources such as wild-caught fish (including salmon and mackerel), free-range poultry, grass-fed beef, and plant-based sources such as tempeh and legumes.

Wondering if you’re meeting your protein goal? Determining the right amount of protein depends on various factors, including age, sex, physical activity level, and individual weight loss goals. A widely accepted guideline comes from the National Academy of Medicine, which recommends a daily intake of 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of ideal body weight for adults. 

However, for those who are regularly exercising and building and maintaining muscle mass, the International Society of Sports Nutrition suggests a daily protein intake between 1.4–2.0 g protein/kg body weight/day. 

If you are overweight, the Mayo Clinic states that your weight should be adjusted before calculating your protein needs to avoid overestimating. 

To determine your specific protein needs for weight loss, it’s best to consult with a registered dietitian or a healthcare professional.

RELATED: The Healthiest Protein-Rich Foods That Support Weight Loss

#3 You’re Eating Foods With Sneaky Inflammatory Ingredients

Unfortunately, added sugars, refined oils, and inflammatory ingredients are hidden in just about everything. From pasta sauce to yogurt to milk to cereal to granola, and more, there are so many sneaky ingredients hidden in plain sight! Disguised with misleading labels and branding, it’s easy to consume inflammatory ingredients without even realizing it. These sneaky culprits can derail your weight loss goals by promoting chronic inflammation, contributing to excess sugar and calories, and wreaking havoc on your gut health

To avoid this weight loss mistake, it’s crucial to become a conscious consumer! This includes reading ingredient labels, avoiding foods you can’t recognize or pronounce, and prioritizing whole, unprocessed foods.

A simple weight loss hack? Shop the perimeter of the grocery store! It’s here you’ll find the most wholesome options, including fresh produce, lean proteins, and gut-healthy dairy options. In doing so, you’ll avoid shelf-stable products that tend to contain hidden additives. 

RELATED: 13 Sneaky Inflammatory Foods to Remove From Your Kitchen

#4 You’re Not Addressing Inflammation

Speaking of inflammation… Did you know that chronic inflammation and weight gain are directly related? Based on extensive data, there is a strong and intricate connection between these two factors! Not only can it slow weight loss, but it can also contribute to increased weight gain, making it a critical factor to address in your weight loss journey. Research has shown that chronic inflammation can disrupt leptin and ghrelin, key hormones involved in hunger and satiety regulation. This can increase cravings, reduce feelings of fullness, and make it hard to control your food intake. Plus, chronic inflammation has been shown to promote insulin resistance, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels and increased fat storage, particularly around the abdomen.

While you may think you have it under wraps, the problem with chronic inflammation is that numerous factors trigger it (including poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and excess stress). Therefore, to effectively combat chronic inflammation and optimize weight loss outcomes, it’s important to adopt an overall healthy lifestyle!

RELATED: 9 Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle Habits to Practice Daily

#5 You’re Not Adding Strength Training to Your Workout Routine

While many of us may think we need to prioritize cardio when it comes to weight loss, strength training is important, too. In fact, not adding enough strength training to your fitness routine could hinder your results. 

Strength training is important for weight loss for a number of reasons. For one, strength training helps build muscle, and muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, even when at rest. By increasing your muscle mass, you boost your resting metabolism, which means your body burns more calories throughout the day. Strength training can also help support glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity

If you’re trying to lose weight, be sure to balance your cardio days with some strength training as well! It’s a key part of a balanced fitness routine that will support weight loss efforts. 

RELATED: 9 Secrets to Building Muscle Strength 

#6 You’re Not Getting Enough Sleep 

Lack of sleep can harm just about all aspects of your well-being, weight included. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body produces more ghrelin, the hormone that stimulates hunger, and less leptin, the hormone that signals fullness. As a result, you’re more likely to experience increased cravings, especially for high-calorie and sugary foods. Plus, sleep-deprived individuals are less likely to exercise and more likely to be sedentary. As you can imagine, this combination of increased calorie intake and reduced calorie expenditure can easily lead to weight gain! In fact, people who consistently sleep less tend to have a higher body mass index and a greater likelihood of obesity.

To support your weight loss goals, you’ll want to optimize your sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep each night, and consider developing a nightly sleep regime!

RELATED: Do Our Sleep Habits Affect Weight Loss? + 5 Tips to Get More Z’s

#7 You’re Ignoring The Impact of Stress On Weight Loss 

We all know stress is harmful to our health, but it’s often overlooked when it comes to its impact on weight loss. The truth is, stress can be a significant obstacle on your weight loss journey. If chronic, stress triggers the release of cortisol, a hormone that can wreak havoc on the body over time. When chronically elevated, cortisol can promote the storage of abdominal fat, disrupt sleep, increase cravings for high-calorie comfort foods, and have a negative effect on mood and mental health. 

Even if you’re busy, it’s important to incorporate stress-reducing techniques into your daily routine — even if it’s a mere five minutes per day! Whether it’s a 5-minute meditation, a quick FitOn workout, or a calming yoga nidra before bed, try to squeeze in time for self-care. Not only will you avoid this common weight loss mistake, but you’ll also support your overall health.

RELATED: How Stress Affects Your Metabolism

#8 You’re Not Addressing Gut Health

Gut health is a trending topic in the wellness world, for good reason. It impacts our mental health, immune system, digestive health, and has a surprising influence on weight management. Home to trillions of microorganisms, our gut microbiota plays a crucial role in breaking down and absorbing nutrients from the foods we consume. This influences appetite, metabolism, digestion, and even chronic inflammation. Therefore, if you’re not nourishing and optimizing your gut, you could be stalling your weight loss progress! 

For effective and sustainable weight loss, include probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and kefir, prebiotic foods like garlic and onions, and high-fiber foods like whole grains and veggies.

RELATED: The Best Foods For a Healthier Gut According to an RD

Avoid These Weight Loss Mistakes

As you can see, weight loss is a complex journey. Even healthy lifestyle factors can be unhealthy (like too much exercise and not enough calories). However, by finding a healthy balance and avoiding these common weight loss mistakes, you can support your weight loss journey in a healthy, sustainable way. By eating mindfully, focusing on wholesome foods, addressing stress and inflammation, improving sleep, and prioritizing movement, you can achieve your goals in a way that works for you. If you’re struggling to meet your goals, consult with a registered dietitian or licensed medical professional for personalized guidance.