It would be wonderful if the pounds melted off as soon as we ramped up our workouts and swore off sweets. But many people find that weight loss isn’t that simple or that linear.
They get stuck in a weight-watching, purgatory — dragging themselves through workouts and scrutinizing food la’bels . while the num bers on the scale stall or inch upward.
To be sure, some of the initialweight gain is often due to water retention, said Jim White, a Virginia-based dietitian and exercise physiologist.
When you lift weights or runup ahill, the muscle fibers tear. The body responds by producing fluids full of white blood cells and nutrients to heal those fibers so you get stronger, says White.
But for more people, the forces that drive the weight gain are much more corn pleX. Here are some common weight-loss traps andhow to avoid them.
You do too much too soon. Many people try to overha.ul their diets while simultaneously logging monster workout sessions at a pace that’s unsustainable.
“People get all excited about counting calories, they overexercise and undereat, and it ends up being too much restriction,” said exercise physiologist Jenny Hadfield, founder of coachjenny.com. “Three weeks after they start, they can’t manage it and the scale tips the other way”
Without adequate fuelffig, workouts become a waste of time; with no energy to push their bodies faster, harder and longer, people can’t rnake, substantial fitness gains. And the body rebels, Hadfield said When we drastically reduce calorie consurnp tion and combine that with higher levels of exercise, the body adapts by lowering our metabolic rates.” So you might drop pounds at first, but eventually you regain the weight, and then some.
Hadfield said baby steps are often more effective. With exercise, do a variety of workouts: short easy erobic efforts, endurance-building long sessions, strength and cross-training, And make one to two small dietary changes at a time. Give yourself time to adjust to each change before making another.
“Even just a glass of wine can be the difference between maintaining and los Mg weight,” said White. But don’t get rid of the pre-workout nosh. White recommends eating a 100-calorie snack half an hour before exereisfrig. “You just don’t want to be hungry as that can cause you to be weak,” he said Experiment with different foods to figure out what gives you a boost with,out upsetting your stomach.
You adopt a diet off the shelf. Many people hitch their weight-loss hopes to a popular diet cleclarhig them selves low-carb, Paleo or gilt ten-free without’considering their own likes and lifestyles. If a diet requires consuming specialty foods that drain your wallet or make you feel chronically deprived, it isn’t likely to last.
“One-size-fits-all programs can be effective the short term,” White said but they can be too hard to follow and p eople often end up gain-mg weight back.”
Adopt an eating plan that you can .enjoy. And allow yourself a weekly treat meal. Just don’t regard it as a “cheat” meal, White warned. Research suggests that the idea of cheating can derail your diet.
Your eating and exercise habits don’t work. Any diet must support your exercise routine .so you get adequate amounts of nutrients.
Coaches say they see a’ lot of people attempting low- carb diets while training for endurance events like marathons, which often backfires. Garbs are the nutrient the body can most efficiently convert into energy. So trying to exercise without carbs is like trying to drive your car with zero gas,” said White. “People go to exercise, they have no energy they hate it and get discouraged.” Once you pick a workout routine or a sports goal, meet with a dietitian to customize an eating plan that will complement it.
You go overboard with the energybars. Snack, nutrition and protein bars have become a $6.2 billion market, according to Mintel, a Chicago research firm. Many of these products have calorie, sugar and fat profiles that rival conventional candybars. Though these foods are designed for refueling during workouts of 60 minutes or longer, many people go overboard once they start working out
“People eat those prod ucts and figure that wasn’t real food, now I have to go get a real meal.’ Meanwhile they just ate 500 calories,” said Tom McGlynn, founder of RuncOach, a Washington D.C., organization that trains distance runners. He encourages clients to focus on fruits, vegetables and grains for carbs; poultry fish and lean red meat for protein, and nuts and avocados for fats.
“Spend the calories on natural foods that we know have vitamins and nutrients that are beneficial,” he.said.
You overcompensate for calorie burn. Many people find that the more they exercise, the more they eat, either because the increased .activity makes them hungrier. or because they feel entitled to a doughnut after a tough workout.
It takes only minutes to eat back the calories burned on a 30-minute run. To avoid this before your workout,prep are a post-workout snack that you can grab when you return 7– say some fat-free yogurt and a piece of fruit, or some rice cakes with peanut butter.
By JENNIFER VAN ALLEN Washington Post