Common weight-loss mistakes to avoid
From juice cleanses to super-early workouts, some common “good for you” fitness practices might actually be making it more difficult for you to get in shape.
Here is a review of what not to do:
Committing only to cardio. Despite what you may have heard, running or spinning shouldn’t be your only workouts — strength training is vital to fitness, too. After all, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Aim to lift weights at least twice a week.
Try adding 30-second high-intensity intervals to the treadmill (or bike) by upping the incline, resistance or speed. Do more squats or lunges, too, or try using equipment such as resistance bands or battle ropes.
Cutting calories. Eating fewer calories will initially help you slim down, but it probably won’t last. Consuming less while moving more, for example, forces the brain into starvation mode, which makes the body hold onto fat.
Not all calories are alike, either: 100 calories of apple are not the same as 100 calories of chips. Processed carbs spike levels of insulin and signal fat cells to hoard calories. Then, your brain says you need more food.
To slim down, focus on food quality instead. Specifically, aim for healthy fats, natural carbs and proteins.
Waking up super-early to work out. If you’re also staying up late, you could actually be sabotaging your ability to get sculpted.
Skimping on shut-eye leaves you hungrier the next day, and more likely to reach for sugary, starchy snacks. It can also destabilize hormones, upping your risk of diabetes and obesity. Make it a priority to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
Cutting out all carbs and fat. An important PSA: Not all carbs are evil, and fat-free products often have more sugar or additives than the regular versions.
On the other hand, full-fat foods (like yogurt) typically leave you more satisfied, so you won’t crave another snack.
And while saturated fat may harm your health, monounsaturated varieties (found in avocados and nuts) are better for you.
As for carbs, they’re a crucial part of a healthy, get-slim diet — the fiber fills you up faster and keeps you feeling full longer. Just choose 100 percent whole-grain crackers, pasta and bread, and eat more whole fruit and ancient grains such as quinoa.
Only working out when you have a full hour. Don’t ditch exercise just because you can’t carve out 60 minutes: try HIIT (high-intensity interval training) instead. Doing 30 seconds of all-out effort (like sprints or jump squats) followed by 30 seconds of active rest (such as walking or biceps curls) and repeating this four to eight times melts fat faster than an hour of moving at a moderate pace.
Also keep in mind that a sweaty workout isn’t the only way to get in shape. Classes like yoga and barre provide toning benefits — and they don’t leave you drenched.
Using the gym as an excuse to overindulge. You can’t lose a significant amount of weight without paying attention to what you eat, said Lawrence Cheskin, M.D., founder of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center.
While it’s OK to have dessert occasionally, don’t eat a big portion and plan to work it off later. Aim for 400- to 500-calorie meals, and 100- to 150-calorie snacks, by filling your plate with fruits, veggies, fish and legumes — and cutting back on empty calories.
Family Circle offers candid advice and fresh ideas for everything, from what to make for dinner to what keeps parents up at night. Online at www.familycircle.com.
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