On The Table

A collection of knowledge-based articles to inspire overall wellness.

8 Diet Mistakes You're Making

Caroline Cederquist, M.D., dedicates her professional career to healthy weight loss and management. She shares nearly two decades-worth of knowledge and treatment for weight loss, predominately correcting metabolism dysfunction.

8 Diet Mistakes You're Making

Dr. Cederquist explains what mistakes you’ve been making when it comes to dieting and provides a few tips to help boost your metabolism for optimal health and weight. Remember: maintaining a healthy diet and healthy habits can benefit you in a countless number of ways.

Mistake 1: Cutting out Protein

You should eat protein at every meal. Your body has to work harder to digest protein, which makes your metabolism burn more calories after a protein-packed meal. However, your body cannot store protein, so be sure to eat only 25-35 grams of protein per meal (and protein snacks throughout the day) so your body can use it before it is stored as fat.

Mistake 2: Not Eating Enough in General

You have to eat to lose weight. Yes, you read that correctly. However, we mean eating more frequently instead of eating larger portions. Eating two or three meals throughout the day gives your metabolism a chance to slow down to its resting rate during the periods between meals. If you think of your metabolism as a fire, eating only two to three meals a day will create periods of time when the fire is no longer raging, but instead smoldering until your next meal. By contrast, adding small, protein rich, healthy snacks between meals keeps your metabolism burning calories at a higher rate, even if you are not physically active during this time.

Mistake 3: Not Counting Liquid Calories

Patients of mine who would never dream of eating cheesecake are shocked when I tell them that drinking two glasses of wine is the equivalent of eating a small piece of that dessert! Your body doesn't care if the calories are liquid or solid—they're still calories.

Whenever you drink alcohol, it first goes to your liver to be detoxified, and is then processed as sugar. This is why drinking alcohol can make it so hard for you to lose weight.

Each gram of alcohol contains seven calories (remember, each gram of fat contains nine calories). Each serving of alcohol contains approximately the same calories of 10 grams of fat. That translates to about 100 calories for each serving. Many drinks you're served in a social setting or at home contain much more than one serving. You can unwittingly be drinking more servings than you intended Add in the sugar from the grapes in wine, the mixers in your margarita, or the additives in beer, and if you have a large drink—or more than one—these calories very quickly add up.

Mistake 4: Exercising Off the Bat

This may be hard to believe, but if you are currently not exercising regularly, don't start—yet. The reason is simple: research shows that changing your diet is much more important than changing your exercise level when you want to lose weight. Focusing on your diet first is more important. A new diet requires a change in eating habits and may entail more planning than most people are used to, I suggest concentrating on getting used to your diet first. Usually after about three weeks, everything clicks, and the new way of eating has become a fabulous new habit. Then you can add in more exercise.

If, on the other hand, you exercise regularly already, don't stop! You've already found a way to incorporate regular exercise into your daily life, so the only added adjustment for you is a better diet to fuel those workouts.

Mistake 5: Not Getting Enough Sleep

Your body needs to perform necessary functions that burn calories all throughout the day, including during sleep. Research has even found that after sleeping (and burning calories) for 8 or more hours, you're likely to have less cravings and eat fewer calories the next day.

One symptom of a dysfunctional metabolism is trouble sleeping, and low blood sugar is the culprit. You may find that you wake in the wee hours-and fee

Mistake 6: Falling for Fad Diets

There is no “quick fix” to losing weight, including crash diets that focus on 1,000 calories or less. When your body does not have enough calories and energy to perform daily functions, your metabolism will instinctively go into starvation mode or “fight or flight” mode. At this stage, your body can begin to store every calorie it can as fat in order to survive.

Mistake 7: Not Using Technology

Pedometers, food trackers, and heart rate monitors are extremely useful to track how your weight loss efforts are doing. Many people over estimate how much they exercise and under estimate how much they truly eat. These types of technology whether used together or individually will give you more transparency as opposed to guesswork.

Mistake 8: Skipping Breakfast

You may have heard it before, but skipping breakfast will NOT help you lose weight. Eating a healthy breakfast signals your metabolism to wake up and start burning calories. Skipping breakfast is essentially wasting a morning of fat burning.