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Why Can’t You Lose Weight? 6 Things that Work Against You

Do fruits and vegetables help with weight loss? (picture by: Masha Tarima. Flikr)

A study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association compared the dietary and exercise behaviors of 62 adolescents who lost weight with 68 adolescents who didn’t.

While their findings are most applicable to individuals 12 to 20 years old, they can still be applied to adults.

What’s preventing you to kiss the extra weight goodbye?

Treating your scale as an antique

You need to get it into action! Weighing self once a week helps keep weight loss or maintenance in check. If once a week is too much, aim for at least once a month. This finding is consistent with the recommendations of the Weight Control Registry, which tracks more than 5,000 adults who lost weight and kept it off.

Rolling back and forth between carbs and fat

Which diet is better, low-fat or low-carb? It doesn’t matter. What matters is eating a little more protein. But if your mind is wondering which protein supplement is best, then stop! According to this study, “more protein” was 7 to 14 extra grams of protein a day, equivalent to 1 to 2 servings.

What’s a serving? One ounce of low fat cheese, a cup of milk, 2 tablespoon 100% nut butter, one egg, one ounce of lean meat, or one half cup of beans.

Falling for “lose 10 pounds this month!” claims

They physically don’t work. It takes a 3,500-calorie deficit to lose 1 pound. Ten pounds–that are not water–a month means you must eat 600 calories less and burn 600 calories a day. Lose the gotta-see-results-now mentality and be patient. The adolescents who lost weight ate 250 calories less than they burnt a day. A slow sustainable weight loss helps you keep the pounds you shed away.

Skipping meals–especially breakfast

Consistent with adult studies, adolescents who didn’t lose weight skipped more meals. When your body goes long without food, it flips the energy conservation switch by burning less calories and efficiently absorbing any energy in. So even if you’re expecting a fiesta dinner, eat a light lunch.

Being a TV addict

Those who lost weight spent 14 hours watching TV a week compared to 19 hours by those who didn’t. Get off the couch and move. Do your workout while watching your favorite show.

However, working on the computer or playing video games doesn’t affect weight as much because your hands tend to be tied-up and not free to munch. So if you must sit, at least play some video games!

Using “unhealthful weight control behaviors”

That’s what the study called laxatives, diuretics, cigarettes, diet pills, appetite suppressants, or vomiting after eating. A higher percentage of the adolescents who didn’t lose weight used such strategies. Important message to spread, isn’t it?


What was the magic solution then?

There was no single one. The adolescents who lost weight:

  • Ate more fruits and vegetables
  • Drank more water
  • Ate less calories
  • Ate less high fat foods, junk foods, and sweets
  • Drank less soda
  • Varied exercise routines
  • Increased exercise intensity
  • Walked
  • Cut out snacks (I suggest choosing healthy snacks instead)
  • Watched less TV

There’s just no running away from good nutrition and physical activity!

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • rebecca subbiah February 17, 2010, 2:11 pm

    nice sensible advice

  • Nour El-Zibdeh, RD February 17, 2010, 10:43 pm

    Thanks Rebecca!