12 Worst Weight Loss Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them!)

In this post, we’ll look at 12 weight loss mistakes and how they can sabotage your dieting efforts. I’ll give reasons why the mistakes cause failure and options for working toward a healthy lifestyle with the results you want.

Weight Loss Mistakes and how to avoid them
Do you ever feel like you are eating healthy, yet constantly battling your weight and never getting anywhere? 

Been there. Done that. I know how you feel, and that’s why I decided to write this post. To let you know that you are not alone.

And that it’s entirely possible for you to reach your goals. 

In doing so, I’ll tell you about weight loss mistakes I learned on my journey to a healthier me.

You see, I once struggled, too. But I was able to pin down the mistakes I was making and implement a different mindset. I also changed my tactics in a few areas and, wow.

Things started happening, and I began to lose weight. 

So, how did I do this? Well, I began taking the focus off of things like watching the scale every day and cutting calories to the extreme. What I did do is make simple long-term changes in my lifestyle.

Rather than starving myself and solely eating foods like protein bars and cabbage soup as a way to lose weight, I implemented good-for-me changes that made a difference.

And you can do the same! Let’s look at 12 weight loss mistakes and how to avoid them. Read on for the scoop!

Hand holding banana for example of cutting calories to excess for 12 Weight Loss Mistakes

1. THINKING YOU JUST NEED TO CUT CALORIES

Sure, losing weight typically involves cutting calories. But, it’s essential to know that reducing your calorie intake isn’t all there is to a weight loss plan.

In fact, if all you do is cut calories, well, you are setting yourself up for failure. Taking in fewer calories often means that you begin to rely on drinks like diet soda, and food items labeled fat-free that are full of refined sugar. You will then lack energy and feel tired and worn out. 

It’s dang near impossible to live in a calorie deficit forever and feel happy about it.  Plus, it’s not necessary!

Instead, concentrate on eating clean. You will naturally consume fewer calories – and they’ll be healthier calories at that. It’s good to be careful of portion size, but if your plate is full of vegetables as opposed to fatty foods with creamy sauces, you can count on weight loss. Nutrient-dense food will fill you up and make you feel more energized.

Overhead view of packaged protein bars; eating them as opposed to healthy food is a common Weight Loss Mistake.

2. NOT MEAL PREPPING

Planning out and preparing your meals ahead of time will give you a huge advantage for weight loss.  Think about it – less stress, more time with family, and delicious meals every day of the week. That’s meal prep! 

I love it because prepping my meals ahead of time ensures that what I eat every day is delicious, nutritional fare and something that supports a healthy lifestyle every day

I mean, spend 1-2 hours in the kitchen on the weekend prepping your food, and you’ve got satisfying, nutrition-based goodness ready for every weekday meal. Part of the derailment of a weight loss regimen is giving in to cravings or throwing together a quick meal because you don’t have time to cook.

Meal prep is also a cost-effective way to lose weight and love your food at the same time. Make the recipes and store the meals in airtight containers in the fridge. Then, when hunger hits – you are prepared!  Check out my meal prep ideas post for a ton of meal prep ideas to get you started.

3. FALLING INTO THE FAKE HEALTHY FOODS TRAP

A food package may say gluten-free, fat-free, sugar-free, high fiber. and more but the reality is, eating these foods is replacing one bad-for-you item for another. This is how it goes:

A sugar-free product will contain sugar substitutes that are bad for you. Aspartame, sucralose, and saccharin are just three of the replacements for sugar.

While a food may be touted as fat-free, that doesn’t make it healthy. In fact, cookies and cakes, for example, that have a fat-free label are highly processed and filled with added sugar.

Fake healthy foods are full of salt, sugar and a whole heap of chemicals that you really don’t want in your body.

Don’t make the mistake of eating packaged foods that are claimed to be high in protein. Bars, super processed powders, and pre-made protein shakes are typically full of fat and high in sugar content.  Just like I shared in my video on 5 easy high-protein shakes, there are protein powders that are better for you than others, so make sure to look at the ingredient labels and make sure to reduce the number of ingredients as much as possible.

The simplest way to avoid the “fake healthy foods” mistake is to stick with clean-eating. Don’t eat from a package; eat whole foods like grains, full-fat dairy, fruits, vegetables, lean meat, beans, and more. The list of foods you can have when trying to lose weight is so long when you choose to eat natural foods. Simplify things and stick to nature’s offerings!

Check out my video on the worst culprits of fake health foods so you can learn what to avoid.

4. NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP

You may feel energized because you are eating clean and getting more exercise. However, don’t make the mistake of cheating yourself out of sleep. Sleep is hugely important, my friends, and getting the minimum of six-seven hours a night is essential to weight loss, and a host of other benefits, like muscle repair, thinking, and hormonal balance.

Why? Research has shown your metabolism may slow down if your body is lacking sleep.

Plus researchers have also stated that people who are tired can consume up to 500 more calories per day than those who get adequate sleep.  That’s because your body is trying to get more energy so it actually releases hormones to make you feel hungry so you eat and provide more energy.

Take the time for yourself and enjoy a nighttime routine that includes winding down.  Your body will thank you.

Overhead view of a bottle of juice; drinking juice instead of eating fruit is a common Weight Loss Mistake.

5. JUICE CLEANSES

Drinking juice, as opposed to eating fruit in its natural form, is a huge weight loss mistake. So often I hear people going on juice cleanses, and I just don’t understand why because it’s a huge mistake.  Why is juice not the best choice?  When eating a piece of fruit, you not only get the pleasure of the crunch-factor or juiciness, but you also get the benefit of the fiber contained in the pulp or skin. 

Drinking the calories also means you are filling up on sugar. Your body does not get the workout it needs to process a piece of fruit, and that can lead to weight gain and sugar dependency. Sugar spikes from drinking juice are the result of an instant release of sugar to the blood. 

Instead of drinking fruit juice, take advantage of the fiber and nutrients in the pulp and skin.  Because a piece of fruit takes longer to process, your body gets to use the sugar as an energy source. Drink water and eat a raw piece of fruit for maximum benefits.

While you may lose weight temporarily from a juice cleanse because you’re likely cutting ca;lories at the same time from your typical diet, it will not maintain itself and you’ll find yourself right back where you started.

View of a food label; not reading and understanding them is one of the 12 Weight Loss Mistakes.

6. NOT READING FOOD LABELS

Don’t judge a packaged food by its cover. You’ve got to dig a little deeper and read the labels on food.  Marketers for unhealthy foods make millions of dollars based on how well they can trick you into thinking their food is healthy.

There are plenty of great foods out there and reading the labels will help you find them.

What are some of the major things to look out for?

  • Refined flour: This is highly processed and the nutrients are no longer there. White flour has the bran and germ removed, only the starchy middle component, the endosperm remains.  If it says bleached or enriched, that means it’s been stripped and avoid it.  Look for whole grain and sprouted instead.
  • Gluten-free: Some people need gluten-free foods because of health conditions like celiac disease. When buying items free of gluten, make sure that there are not a lot of other added ingredients like sugar, salt, and trans fats.
  • Ingredients like Fruit juice concentrate: This just means added sugar.
  • Fat-free: In replacement of fat, salt and sugar are typically added to improve flavor.  Avoid.  Instead, look for foods high in monounsaturated fat, like nuts and avocados.
  • Free of trans fats: If there are hydrogenated oils in the item, these are trans fats. These are very common in baked goods that store for long times on shelves.
  • High in fiber: While fiber is a great thing, it has to be the right kind of fiber. If you see maltodextrin or polydextrose, you may experience bloating and gas from these additives.
  • Organic: When referring to unhealthy foods like granola bars, organic really means nothing. You are still consuming processed food high in sugar and other additives.

7. NOT DRINKING ENOUGH WATER

I can’t say enough about how important it is to drink water. Essential to kidney function, hydrated skin, and a fully functioning digestive system, drinking water is crucial to eating clean:

  • Drinking water can help you lose weight. Have a large glass before a meal to have less room in your stomach for food.
  • Consuming lots of water helps the kidneys function well, regulating the fluid in the body.
  • The body’s waste processes work as intended when plenty of water is taken in.
  • Not drinking enough can affect your thinking and reasoning.
  • Water helps oxygen move through the body.
  • Not drinking enough water can affect the lubrication between joints and cartilage.

So, overall, it’s a no-brainer. Drink lots of water. Your body will thank you for it! I drink about 70 ounces of water every single day. Follow this simple rule: drink about half your weight in ounces, every day.

Overhead view of potatoes, carrots, and celery as examples of vegetables to eat to avoid 12 Weight Loss Mistakes.

8. CUTTING OUT ALL CARBS

When aiming to lose weight, people often cut carbs. The thing is, just which carbs you cut is important. Refined carbs that have been processed into empty calories are the ones you have to get rid of. Complex carbs, on the other hand, are good for you and contain needed fiber and nutrients like vitamins. Choose these complex carbs to include in your diet:

  • Sweet potatoes are fiber-rich
  • Quinoa has iron and B vitamins
  • Blueberries and strawberries help brain function
  • Beans and legumes stabilize blood sugar
  • Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard provide beta-carotene and iron
  • Oats can reduce the risk of heart disease
  • Bananas are power-packed with potassium and more
  • Broccoli – high in fiber and protein

Close up shot of a single slice of pumpkin pie from scratch, topped with fresh vegan whipped cream and cinnamon.

9. NOT HAVING A CHEAT DAY

I love cheat days.  In fact, I take one once a week. It keeps me on track for the rest of the week. It’s interesting though, on my cheat day I still feel the urge to eat relatively healthy and that’s a good thing. When you are used to eating clean, rich and high-fat foods don’t always satisfy the way you expect.

That’s why it’s important to really enjoy the meals you have on your day off from dieting. Make it worth it and go ahead and splurge. 

Just remember, a high calorie cheat day may set you back just a bit. After the day is done, get back to business, and you’ll continue to lose weight.

10. FOCUSING TOO MUCH ON THE SCALE

For some, checking the scale every day is a good thing. For others, it can be discouraging. If the scale goes up instead of down, it’s a setback to self esteem. Make the scale your friend instead of your enemy. Don’t obsess over the numbers. Instead, think about how much energy you have and how well your clothes fit. You may very well be losing fat mass but not the water weight. So, your body is changing for the better, but the scale may not reflect the fact.

Remember, hormones, hydration levels, and even the food you ate the day before can affect the scale. Focus on clean eating and exercising to increase your energy levels. The rest will fall into place!

Consider how you feel in your clothes — are they fitting well, a little too snug, or actually a little lose?  Take progress pics to see any physical changes you’re experiencing, or get your body fat percentage measured to understand how that might be going down even though you aren’t losing weight.

11. NOT EXERCISING OR ONLY EXERCISING

This one goes both ways.  You can eat a clean diet and work very hard to track your macros throughout the day, but miss the super helpful benefit of adding in strength training to your lifestyle. 

Many people believe they can eat better and that will help them build muscle, but you have to work your muscles through resistance training, or weight lifting, to actually build muscle.  Once you start building muscle, your metabolism will increase and you’ll be able to burn more calories during the day and even eat more food.

Yes, cardio is a great option for heart health and general physical wellness, but it doesn’t serve nearly as well for weight loss, strength building, and overall body recomposition compared to strength training. 

Conversely, exercising all the time, but failing to eat well is another big problem.  It’s said that abs are made in the kitchen and that’s because eating well is actually more important than the physical exercise you get because exercise alone doesn’t make as big of an impact on your daily caloric expenditure, meaning how many calories you burn each day.

Overhead view of a bag of veggie stix as an example of giving into cravings, a common Weight Loss Mistake.

12. SNACKING

Eating out of boredom or because you just feel like a snack can cause big trouble for weight loss. Eating when your body doesn’t require it or when you think you are hungry but aren’t really is a weight loss mistake that could sabotage your diet. 

You see, snacks really add up during the day and lead to overeating.

If you find yourself in the mood to eat but know you really aren’t, stop and have a big glass of water. Wait 10 minutes and it’s highly likely you will go on with your day – without giving in.  Work on reducing snacking as much as possible, and instead focusing on your meal times for when it’s appropriate to consume your calories.  In fact, check out intermittent fasting to see how you can condense your eating windows even further for even better weight loss strategy.

Check out 30 Day Healthy, my 30 Day weight loss Program that provides daily meal plans, healthy lifestyle education, support, and motivation if you’re looking to finally get back on track and stay on track!

MORE POSTS ON WEIGHT LOSS

Now that you have the tools to avoiding the top 10 Weight Loss Mistakes, take a look at these guides for more informative weight loss tips:

This post contains affiliate links to products I use regularly and highly recommend.

Lacey Baier

Hey y’all, I’m Lacey Baier and I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a healthy lifestyle influencer and the creator of this clean-eating blog and YouTube channel, A Sweet Pea Chef. My recipes have been published on Food Network, Good Morning America, FoxNews, Tastemade, Fitness Magazine, and much more. I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband and four kiddos. Let’s get started!

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