The prospect of losing weight can be mysterious to some and nearly impossible to others. I get it. You could spend countless hours at the gym, avoid processed foods and eat lots of vegetables, but the scale still won't budge. While you may think you're doing everything right, there are a few seemingly "healthy" habits that may be to blame.
Yes, this is a thing! Although fruit is the healthiest form of "sweet," too much fruit can be as much of a weigh gain culprit as chocolate. Although fruit provides fiber, vitamins and fluid to your diet, it also provides a ton of sugar. If your body consumes more sugar than it can use for energy or store in the muscles, it starts shuttling that sugar directly into fat cells for storage.
For weight loss purposes, I recommend fruit intake be limited to one or two servings per day for women and no more than three servings for men. But note that these recommendations are general and may vary based on your physical activity level, age and other lifestyle dependent factors.
Pears, apples, strawberries, raspberries and grapefruit all have a low glycemic index — meaning they are digested slower, do not spike blood sugar levels as quickly and will keep you felling fuller, longer.
Tip: A serving size is one cup of cut fruit or the size of a tennis ball. Beware of prepackaged fruit, like the containers found at Wawa, which are usually two cups, which is the maximum amount a woman should have in one day.
Most salads start on a bed of good intentions (leafy greens and raw vegetables) but can easily take a trip to the dark side once you add in excess dressing, over portioned cheese, fried proteins and processed toppers like dried fruits, croutons, tortilla strips and bacon crumbles! Salads can be a great vehicle for getting more vegetables into your diet as long as you're mindful of what goes into your mix. For the best RD-approved salad, I recommend choosing at least three non-starchy vegetables along with a dark green base. Opt for kale, spinach or arugula instead of iceberg lettuce, which has a nice crunch but almost no nutritional value.
Top your mix with lean protein (4-6 ounces), like chicken, turkey or fish. There's no need to have chicken, bacon and eggs or three different Italian meats as your protein; its excessive. Adding avocado or nuts/seeds to your salad can provide a healthy dose of monounsaturated fats. However, most salad shops will use half of an avocado and a quarter cup of nuts, which combined is excessive. Choose one or the other to keep portion size in check.
I am not one to demonize salad dressing but here's something to keep in mind: The average ladle used for salad dressing is ¼ cup (or 4 tablespoons), which totals almost 300 calories. This is double the recommended portion size! Go with clear-based dressings over creamy and ask for it on the side.
Tip: Your average fruit vinaigrette can pack anywhere from 6-16 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons which is close to half of the recommended amount of sugar an individual should consume in one day! Instead, opt for tahini and lemon juice or olive oil and apple cider vinegar.
Fats are an essential part of a healthy diet. Oils such as coconut, olive and sesame have wonderful health benefits — they help the body absorb fat-soluble nutrients and when consumed properly, assist in the weight loss process. That being said, you still can go overboard on healthy oils. Pouring olive oil straight from the bottle makes it extremely hard to control portion size, and at 120 calories per tablespoon, they can add up fast. A mindful serving of added oil for weight loss is a maximum of 1 tablespoon per meal for women and 2 tablespoons for men.
Tip: Be choosy when using oils. Making eggs for breakfast? Use extra virgin olive oil cooking spray instead of using liquid olive oil to coat the pan. If you ate roasted vegetables at lunch, try steamed vegetables with fresh herbs at dinner or use an oil mister when prepping to keep calories down.
Although natural sugars like agave nectar or honey may offer better quality than artificial sweeteners and processed sugars, they can still add a significant amount of sugar to your diet, which is not beneficial to your health or waistline. Always, limit added sugars of all kinds to 24 grams a day for women (6 teaspoons), and 36 grams for men (9 teaspoons).
Tip: There are at least 61 different names for sugar (cane sugar, maltose, dextrose, rice syrup etc.) listed on food labels. Familiarize yourself with the various names that may disguise "sugar" in the ingredients list to avoid overconsumption.
Alcohol, whatever the form, does not help your metabolism in any way. Just because red wine contains resveratrol (an antioxidant) does not mean it's free of calories. Alcohol also reduces inhibitions, causing you to unknowingly eat more food. Do this every night and you're surely going to negate any good choices you made during the day towards your weight loss.
If you can't curb your daily alcohol intake altogether then set a limit for yourself. Buy a bottle of wine with the intention that it must last a whole work week. If you have a bad day at work on Wednesday and finish the bottle that evening, then do not drink again until Saturday.
Tip: Choose organic, sulfite free wines, which may be easier on the liver. If you really want a cocktail, go for top shelf liquors. They are cleaner, with fewer chemicals and fake ingredients for the liver to process. Keep serving size in mind too. A serving of wine is a 5 oz. pour and a serving of liquor is 1.5 oz.