Losing weight can be a challenge. It’s made even more challenging by all of the “expert” advice out there on what to do and what not to do. Sometimes, this advice is really no more than an advertising ploy. Other times, the advice itself isn’t bad, it also just isn’t for everyone. Too often, misinformed folks pass along bits and pieces of advice out of context, essentially. What works for high-performance athletes, for instance, is great for them, but could be counterproductive for the rest of us. Below, we’ll take a look at some definite “don’ts” that we’d all do well to keep in mind.
Don’t replace water with sports drinks
Unless you work out hard enough to sweat an entire quart of fluid every 30 to 45 minutes, you aren’t losing enough electrolytes to need a sports drink. Regular versions add extra calories (many from sugar) that you don’t need. The diet versions contain artificial sweeteners, which you don’t need, either. Instead, opt for plenty of water throughout the day, every day. Staying well hydrated will minimize the effects of fluid loss due to sweating and will make it easier for your muscles to recover.
Don’t go for commercially-prepared before and after snacks
Many companies are selling snack bars and drink concoctions that claim to offer superior workout performance and post-workout recovery. Again, unless you’re a high-performance athlete, these preparations represent extra calories that you don’t need. You’ll be much better off (and save money) by choosing lean proteins like chicken, eggs, or nuts or low-fructose fruits and veggies like cantaloupe, apricots, raspberries, or kale (and other dark leafy greens).
Don’t leave out fresh produce
Fresh vegetables and fruit contain many nutrients, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals that our bodies need for maximum efficiency and can’t get from other foods. Fresh produce also contains plenty of fiber, which helps us feel fuller and helps regulate the digestive process. While specific needs can vary based on age and gender, we should all be getting five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, with around 2/3 of those servings being veggies. While whole produce packs the most punch, a good vegetable juicer can get you closer to your goals if you know you just won’t eat your veggies.
Don’t fall for the “Diet” hype
Most foods that carry the “Diet” label claim to be a dieter’s best friend. Don’t believe it. As with diet sports drinks, most diet beverages contain artificial sweeteners, and there is an increasing amount of solid evidence that artificial sweeteners actually cause us to crave more sugar and can actually inhibit the physical process of fat burning. Be wary, too, of foods labeled “low fat” or “no fat” since the fat is often replaced with extra sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Don’t think you have to do it all at once
Sure, it’d be great if we could all drop every bad habit and pick up every good one with the snap of a finger. For most of us, though, this “cold turkey” approach usually results in disaster. Instead, set smaller goals for yourself that allow you to slowly phase out the bad stuff and integrate the good. You’ll feel less like you’re depriving yourself and give yourself a chance to see how easy it really can be to eat healthier.