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Unhealthy ways to lose weight

If you’re looking to lose weight, you may have already come across ‘fad diets’ which promise to help you shed pounds in just a couple of weeks, or, you might think that starving yourself is the key to shifting weight fast - we’re here to highlight the weight loss methods that are bad for your health so you can lose weight safely and effectively. 

When you decide you want to slim down, you can be keen to get results as quick as possible and turn to unhealthy ways to lose weight, but here’s what you need to avoid:

1. Skipping meals 

Skipping meals is not an effective way to lose weight. When you skip a meal, you could become tired, miss out on essential nutrients, experience low mood or be tempted to turn to high-fat, high-sugar foods when you do decide to eat which will lead to weight gain. 

2. Cutting out certain food groups

Carbohydrates are a common food group for people to cut out in an attempt to shed some pounds, but it's important to remember that all food groups contain important nutrients that our bodies need. It’s not about eliminating food groups, it's about getting the balance right. 

3. Only drinking weight loss shakes

Protein shakes can be great for breakfast or lunch, giving us energy for the day ahead but you cannot rely on these solely. Moreover, you need to be aware that there are ‘diet shakes’ out there which aren’t medically approved and just target losing water weight. If you stick to these shakes for long enough, when you turn back to solid foods, you might find yourself piling weight back on. Remember, there isn’t a magic shake or pill that transforms you overnight - if there was, everyone would be taking them!

4. Over exercising 

Being more active is certainly beneficial if you’re trying to lose weight but you need to know when to stop. The key to any successful weight loss plan is to make small changes which can be sustained; if you’re burning yourself out with intense fitness regimes then you’re likely to reach a breaking point. According to the NHS, adults need at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week and you need to exercise more than this if you want to lose weight. 

When you train, your muscle fibres are broken down but your body then repairs and rebuilds them, making them stronger. In order for your body to successfully do this, you need sufficient rest, sleep and nutrition; over exercising will prevent your body from being able to repair and rebuild your muscles. In order to determine if you’re exercising too much, notice if you’re:

  • Gaining weight - If you’re over exercising then your body will be in a state of chronic stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies make and release cortisol (the stress hormone) which can affect your metabolism and lead to weight gain. 
  • Becoming weaker - if you’re not allowing your body time to recover, you’ll become weaker as your muscles are unable to repair and rebuild. 
  • Experiencing very sore muscles - it is normal to feel sore a couple days after working out but if you feel sore for extended periods of time, this is a sign that your body hasn’t fully recovered and you could even injure yourself. 
  • Seeing a negative effect on your mental health - whilst exercise is hailed as a great way to improve your mental health and relieve stress, too much of it can have the opposite effect and you may notice you’re feeling more anxious, depressed, short-tempered and experiencing other negative emotions. 
  • Not sleeping well - most adults need between six and nine hours of sleep each night (NHS) and need to try and be consistent with their sleeping hours. If you exercise too much or too close to your bedtime, you may struggle to get to sleep and not achieve quality rest.
  • Frequently getting injured - if you’re over exercising, you’re training on weak or damaged muscles which leaves you vulnerable to sustaining further injuries (such as pulling muscles or worsening an existing injury). 
  • Feeling addicted to exercise - if you feel that you are becoming obsessed with exercise, this is a sign that you could be doing too much. If you’re worried about being addicted to working out and the effects it might have on your health, speak to a healthcare professional for advice. 
  • Experiencing changes to your heart rate - your resting heart rate can be affected by too much exercise. Whilst it’s normal to have an increased heart rate during physical activity, if you’re simply sitting on the sofa and feel your heart pounding, this could indicate you’re over exercising.
  • Feeling exhausted - if you’re feeling more tired than usual and experiencing fatigue, you could be burnt out from all that exercise and be in need of a break. 

If you need support to get active safely, we can help! Contact us for more information or register today!

5. Working out on an empty stomach

When your body needs energy for your activities, it can break down your lean muscle mass and convert it to glucose for energy if you haven’t been eating enough. Moreover, exercising without eating can lead to you feeling faint whilst working out and you could suffer an injury.

6. Being too restrictive

If you’re far too strict on yourself when it comes to eating (i.e. ‘i’m not even allowed a whiff of chocolate!), you can be more tempted to break the ‘rules’ which you have set yourself. Furthermore, if you do break one of your ‘rules’, you might be too hard on yourself and give up on your weight loss progress entirely under the impression that you’d failed. Be kind to yourself and be realistic - ask yourself whether you could sustain your current eating habits and if the answer is no, you should think about eating mindfully rather than strictly. 

7. Sticking to a liquid diet

Consuming food in pure liquid form, whether it be soups or juices, is not a sustainable, long-term way of losing weight. Many soups are also high in sodium which can increase your blood pressure and you may be undereating in terms of calories which can lead to its own issues (we’ll cover that later).

8. Taking supplements without medical approval

There are a lot of food supplements out there, all promising big things - but they aren’t all safe or effective to use for weight loss. If you are looking into supplements to help lose weight, you should consult your GP or a healthcare professional as many un-prescribed weight loss supplements can contain ingredients which can harm your health. 

9. Undereating or starving yourself

Seriously undereating can prevent your body from functioning normally which can have an affect on your mood and energy levels. Whilst you might be losing weight through undereating, you will also be losing muscle and your metabolism (which is what helps you to burn calories) will decrease. 

Crash diets and not getting the nutrients and calories you need each day is unlikely to lead to long-term weight loss and can actually hinder your efforts. Aside from being incredibly difficult to maintain, undereating and starving yourself can cause your body to store calories as fat. It is not advised for people to consume less than 1,200 calories a day unless they are medically supervised as you could struggle to get enough of the essential nutrients your body needs.

10. Following a cleanse or detox plan

Similar to supplements, there are a lot of weight loss promises being made with detox and cleansing products. These products can present risks to our body, including dehydration as many of these ‘cleanses’ cause weight loss from water and stool weight. It is much more sustainable and safe to simply be mindful of what you’re eating and drinking plenty of water every day. 

It’s important to set yourself SMART goals which are going to be safe and achievable in the long run. There is no quick fix to losing weight and it can be a challenging journey - just remember that there is support out there for you and you can always make positive changes to your lifestyle, you just need to start small.  

Looking to lose weight? 

If you or someone you know living in Dorset is looking to lose weight, you’ve come to the right place! Here at LiveWell Dorset, we provide support for those looking to follow a healthier lifestyle and have a friendly team of professional coaches and advisors on hand to guide you through each step of the way. You can register with us today or get in touch to find out more about our services.

Ivan

I drank too much alcohol and had unhealthy eating habits. Pastry is such a bad thing, it's all those pies, pasties and sausage rolls!

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How does this work?

The tailored approach LiveWell Dorset uses to come up with solutions to the things that are stopping us achieving our goals, is based upon work done by University College London developing the COM-B model of behaviour change. In this model, all behaviour is influenced by understanding a person’s capability to change, their opportunity to change and their motivation to change. By understanding which of these is the biggest barrier to change, we can tailor support accordingly. This model of behaviour change is at the centre of the support we offer, online and in person.

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