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Nutrition Habits Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

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By Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LDN, Education Program Manager, Taylor Hooton Foundation | Contributor

When was the last time you went on a diet and maintained your weight loss for over 2 years? Are you one who struggles with losing weight, or do you find it easy to lose weight but have trouble keeping it off? These are the struggles many people have, as a study by Duke University indicates nearly 90% of people who lose weight gain all of it back.

Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight loss products. Research shows there is little to no evidence that using a dietary supplement will result in weight loss.

Overview of Dieting in America

The increase in the prevalence of obesity rates are quite alarming. Since 1997, we have seen a 12% increase in the number of adults who are obese (Figure 1.1). Approximately 45 million Americans go on a diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight loss products.

Figure 1.1 – Prevalence of Obesity in Adults over 20 from 1997-2018

Research shows there is little to no evidence that using a dietary supplement will result in weight loss. Most ingredients that have evidence supporting weight loss are pharmaceutical drugs that require a medical prescription, which may come with potential side effects (i.e. irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and stroke).

Do Diets Work?

Whether you are trying Keto, Whole 30, Atkins, Low Fat, Paleo, Intermittent Fasting, Optavia, or any diet with a label or name, short-term research demonstrates all will work if you are consistent and adhere to their guidelines. However, the best approach for sustainable weight loss is one that focuses on helping you change habits and does not require you to eliminate entire food groups (i.e. carbohydrates, fat, etc). For example, research evaluating the effects of Intermittent Fasting vs a Calorie Controlled/Restricted Diet demonstrated after a year, both groups lost an equal amount of weight. Even more effective is finding a qualified professional (i.e. Registered Dietitian) who can help you identify specific habits that may be preventing you from losing weight.

Most ingredients that have evidence supporting weight loss are pharmaceutical drugs that require a medical prescription, which may come with potential side effects (i.e. irregular heartbeat, elevated blood pressure, and stroke).

4 Habits That May be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Goals

  • Dining Out Frequency – Nearly 40% of our meals today are consumed away from home and close to 50% of our food budget is spent at restaurants. Approximately $863 billion was spent on restaurant tabs in 2019. Furthermore, the average American buys a meal or snack from a restaurant 5.8 times per week with 47% of meals being consumed alone. Research has demonstrated the average restaurant meal contains approximately 200 more calories than a home-cooked meal.  How significant can 200 calories be to our waistline? Those 5.8 meals per week consumed away from home could add an extra 1,000 calories per week or an extra 52,000 calories per year just from dining out. On one day each week for 2 hours, you could prep 5-10 meals for the rest of the week. This could save you and your family those 5.8 meals consumed away from the house which in turn saves time, money, and calories.
  • Lack of Protein – Protein has various functions for the human body, but when trying to lose weight, adequate protein keeps us full longer. It also functions to preserve hunger because it takes longer to digest along with helping us maintain muscle when in a calorie deficit. Research has demonstrated that when trying to lose weight, the optimal range for protein intake is 0.8 grams to 1.0 grams per pound of body weight. If you are a 200-pound person, this would equate to 160-200 grams of protein per day. It’s important to spread this out over the course of 4-6 meals/snacks throughout the day and consume lean sources from chicken, fish, beans, eggs, lean beef, low-fat dairy, fish, soy, and nuts.
  • Eating Too Fast – Do you consume your meal in less than 10 minutes? If that is the case, there is a chance you are eating more calories than you need to and your brain is telling you to do so. Research from the University of Rhode Island has demonstrated that subjects who ate fast, ate between 200-350 more calories per day than those who ate slower (15-20 minutes). This could lead to an extra 1400-2450 calories per week.
    • A few tips that can help you eat slower and consume less food:
      • Eat with a friend, spouse, or partner and have a conversation.
      • Chew 40-50 times before swallowing.
      • Drink water between bites.
      • Put your fork down between bites.
      • Use chopsticks with your meal.
    •  High Calorie Beverages – Are you someone who just has to have that Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino every morning? High calorie beverages can be sabotaging your weight loss as that Venti Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino is bringing in a whopping 590 calories (24 oz.). Whether you’re having a frozen coffee to start your day, a so-called healthy smoothie from one of the local smoothie vendors, or a ready-to-drink juice, you could be adding an extra 400-800 calories per day in liquid sugar. You can shave off those calories by asking for something like a Mocha Light Frappuccino with no whip and non-fat milk which comes in at 110 calories.

What habit do you struggle with the most that is preventing you from reaching your goals? Focus on that one habit for the next 3-4 weeks and once you get that under control, move on to the next habit. Trying to tackle too many habits or restrict your food choices will make it difficult to follow a sustainable plan that leads to successful weight loss.

ABOUT TAVIS PIATTOLY, MS, RD, LDN:

Tavis Piattoly, MS, RD, LDN is the Education Program Manager and Sports Dietitian for the Taylor Hooton Foundation where he speaks to athletes, coaches, parents, and healthcare professionals on the dangers on Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances, Dietary Supplements and Supplement Safety, and Sports Nutrition.

He currently serves as the Sports Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant for Fairchild Sports Performance in Houston.  He is also an adjunct faculty for Concordia University of Chicago’s Exercise Science department where he teaches graduate courses in Vitamins/Minerals, Sports Nutrition, and Exercise and Nutrition for Weight Management.

He was the Sports Dietitian for the New Orleans Saints from 2006-2013 and New Orleans Pelicans from 2008-2013. He also served as the Sports Dietitian for the Tulane Athletics from 2002-2014 and the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine’s NFL Players Association Brain and Body program from 2013-2016.

ABOUT THE TAYLOR HOOTON FOUNDATION:

The Taylor Hooton Foundation (THF) was formed in 2004 in memory of Taylor E. Hooton, a 17-year old high school student from Plano, TX. Taylor took his own life on July 15, 2003 as a result of using anabolic steroids.

Today, the THF is the leader in educating youth and adult influencers on the dangers of anabolic steroids, human growth hormone (HGH), dietary supplements, and other Appearance and Performance Enhancing Substances. For more information or to donate, go to https://taylorhooton.org/.

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