As summer approaches, many people begin to make dietary or lifestyle changes to achieve certain health goals. But there are some common pitfalls to be aware of when trying to achieve weight loss goals this time of year.
Before embarking on any diet or weight loss program, there are some important factors you need to consider to ensure that you are safe, realistic, and healthy.
Vanessa Rissetto, registered dietitian and co-founder of Culina Health, shared the top diet mistakes people should avoid and how to achieve their goals in a healthy way instead.
Cut too many calories
The first thing to ask yourself before making any changes to your diet is, “Is it safe?” Rissetto said TODAY in a segment that aired on April 20. If you cut too many calories, you don’t.
Being too restrictive isn’t just risky, it’s also unsustainable and a big reason people don’t stick to new diets, TODAY previously reported.
“Some things you can do for a day or two and then that’s it, but you actually need fuel to run,” Rissetto said.
Instead of severely restricting your calorie intake, Rissetto suggested using math to figure out how many calories your body actually needs.
“A lot of people try to cut calories and they think, ‘oh, my friend eats 1,000 calories a day, so I should do that too,'” Rissetto said, adding that people should base their calorie intake on their own weight. .
As a rule of thumb, she suggested dividing your weight by 2.2 and multiplying it by 25. So if you weigh 150 pounds, that would be 68 times 25, giving you 1700 calories a day to maintain your current weight, she explained. . If weight loss is your goal and you decide to eat less than that, you should never go below 1,300 calories a day, she added.
Not consuming enough fiber or water
Fiber and hydration are key parts of any diet, Rissetto said, but people often forget to focus on those two factors.
In the summer, when temperatures are higher, digestion can slow down, Rissetto said. Fiber and water are ways to help your digestion and speed things up.
How much water do you need? In the summer, it’s easier to get dehydrated, which is why Rissetto suggested drinking 90 fluid ounces of water each day, more than the standard recommendation of eight glasses a day.
“Fiber also helps with weight management,” she added, suggesting people load up their meals with extra vegetables and fruits.
Skimp on protein and fat
You need to eat protein and fat to fuel your body, Rissetto said, so it’s important not to cut it too much. “On average, fat makes up about 20 to 35 percent of your calorie needs,” she added. Healthy sources of fat include nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fatty fish, TODAY previously reported.
Your daily protein intake should be about 1.2 grams of protein per kilogram of your weight, Rissetto said. So someone who weighs 150 pounds or 68 kilograms would need about 68 to 82 grams per day. “For context, four ounces of chicken contains 31 grams of protein,” she added.
Cut the carbs
Rissetto said another mistake she sees making is omitting whole food groups, namely carbs. Low-carb or no-carb diets for weight loss have been popular for a long time, TODAY previously reported.
“Carbohydrates are not bad. They are our main source of energy and we need them for fuel,” she added. People are often afraid of carbs because they don’t really know what carbs are or how much we should eat, she said.
“It’s not always bread and cookies,” she clarified. Not all carbs are created equal, and healthier options include whole grains like quinoa, starches like broccoli, or legumes like lentils.
Spending lots of money on fad diets and cleanses
“When you think of these fads, like a juice cleanse, you have to buy the whole system and it’s costing you hundreds of dollars over a month,” Rissetto said. Expensive cleanses or fad diets are often not sustainable, she added, and are a total waste of money.
“Ask yourself…can I reach the goal without blowing my pocket?” Rissetto said, adding that professionals can also help you understand how to make lasting and affordable change. “Most of us (dietitians) take out insurance and the cost is probably a co-pay,” she added.
It’s important to make sure any changes are realistic for your lifestyle, Rissetto stressed. A diet should not interfere with your social life, for example. If going out to eat or trying new restaurants is a big part of your life, choose a diet that allows you to keep doing it, but in a healthier way.
“Think about your limits and your life,” Rissetto said, adding that people should think about how best to incorporate a change in diet into their routine so that it suits their lifestyle. If you’re a busy parent cooking for your family, for example, you might not want to choose a diet that forces you to eat separate meals, she added. “Really, what’s going to be sustainable in the long run without blowing your mind?”