Common mistakes you are making when trying to lose weight

When it comes to weight loss, there are many bogus claims rife online, from FAD diets to wearing special earrings that will apparently help you lose weight. Yes, you read that right, the latest trend is that wearing a special earring can help with weight loss.  Needless to say, this is absolute rubbish.


In practice, the problem I often see is that when people embark on their weight loss journey, they focus too much on the wrong things, and too little on the right things.  Here are the top mistakes I often see in clinic that you should stop doing.

Not eating enough protein

When it comes to weight loss, eating enough protein has been shown to help with weight loss goals more so than other nutrients. One of the main reasons behind this is because of the thermic effect of food. A pretty science term, eh? Simply put, this is the amount of energy expended when digesting food.  

Studies have shown that protein takes the most energy to digest. For example, if you eat 100 calories of protein, you will only absorb around 70 of those calories. This is in contrast to a food such as refined white carbs, which are very easily digested. When you have 100 calories of white toast for example, you absorb nearly all of those calories.

Other benefits of protein that have been reported from studies include:

  • reduction in appetite
  • keeps you full for longer
  • protects muscle mass during periods of weight loss (as long as you are doing the correct exercises during the weight loss phase)

Generally speaking, if you do not have a background of any medical conditions that may impact on how well you digest protein, you should be aiming for approximately 1.5g of protein per kilogram per day.

Over-analysing the scale weight

The scale weight isn’t gospel - it’s just one tool in the tool box to help you gauge your progress but it isn’t always accurate. This is because weight is not only influenced by the fat you put on or lose, but also by the food we consume, the liquid we drink and whether we have been to the toilet or not.  

Some studies have even shown that it is common for weight to fluctuate between 1-2kg over a few days due to the above listed factors. Additionally, hormonal changes in women can contribute to the retention of water in the body which then add to total body weight.

Other ways to gauge your weight loss progress is by assessing how well your clothes and jewellery fit.

Underestimating how much you are actually eating

If I got a penny for every time a client has told me that they are not eating that much but struggling to lose weight, I would be a very rich woman. Studies have shown that people underreport diet intake without even realising and this can be  up to 70% in some cases. When I work with my clients, I ask them to keep a food chart for at least one week. This often reveals areas of improvement that they hadn’t realised were an issue. Here are some common areas:

  • Not counting calories in oils and fats used in cooking or underestimating how much is used.
  • Not counting beverages such as juice/full sugar fizzy drinks/tea/lattes/coffee/alcohol.
  • Not looking at weekend patterns too - often, people are in a calorie deficit over the weekdays. Then the weekend comes and they think it is a free pass and they massively go over their calorie target. This then has a knock-on effect by completely taking the person out of a calorie deficit for the whole week.
  • Not identifying that snacks are very calorie dense - a slice of cake can be over 200 calories, a doughnut can be close to 400 calories. A small lindt ball is 120 calories - have a few of those balls and you have had the equivalent amount of calories to a tuna sandwich.

Not thinking about the diet after the diet

This is probably one of the most overlooked areas, what I like to call the diet after the diet. Now, you may have heard that ‘95% of diets fail’. This is actually not true. In reality, people are often quite successful at losing weight. What they’re not so successful at is keeping the weight off. And this is often because in a quest to lose weight they have engaged in unsustainable diets. Once they have lost the weight, they go back to what they have always been doing prior to the diet and voila, all the weight comes rushing back.

This is why I work with my clients and encourage small, yet sustainable changes that will lead them to getting results they want in the long-term.

And there you have the top mistakes I see in clinic. If you relate to any of those and feel that you would benefit from a helping hand to help support your weight loss journey, then click the 'email me' button below to schedule a free strategy call. This call will discuss your weight loss history and how I may be able to help you reach your goals.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London SW14 & E18
Written by Rania Salman, Registered Dietitian, PgDip (Merit), BSc (Honours), MBDA
London SW14 & E18

Rania Salman is a trained dietitian who uses an evidence-based approach to support you in reaching your goals. Her areas of expertise include Fertility, PCOS, weight loss/gain in addition to general health and well-being. She has worked in some of the most well-known NHS trusts, in addition to working for the private sector.

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