undermine your weight loss

7 Habits That Undermine Your Weight Loss

February 10, 2021

Let's discuss some bad habits that undermine your weight loss...

7 Habits That Undermine Your Weight Loss

1. Drinking fluids that contain calories

When you consume sugar in a liquid form from soda, juice, sweetened coffee drinks, or other sugar-sweetened beverages, it is rapidly absorbed by the body, which can cause weight gain, insulin resistance, elevated lipids, and a fatty liver.

When people consume sugar in a liquid form, they consume more of it than if it were in a solid form, like a piece of cake. Just one can of soda per day can double the risk of diabetes (Schulze, 2004) and increase heart disease mortality risk by 30% (Yang, 2014). Sugar-sweetened beverages are calories that do not provide nutritional benefits but instead provide excessive calories. Instead of soda, juice, or other sugar-sweetened beverages, opt for water.

Water is a natural appetite suppressant and is important for many different functions of the body.

If you do not like the taste of water, soak fresh fruit or herbs, like mint and basil, to add flavor. Aim for at least 64 ounces of water per day for adequate hydration.

2. Eating too many simple carbohydrates with meals

What do white bread, bagels, pasta, white rice, and potatoes have in common? They are all simple carbohydrates, meaning their fiber has been removed during processing or they are naturally low in fiber. Due to their low fiber content, the body quickly digests them, causing you to eat more. When simple carbs are consumed in excess or are not burned during exercise, they can cause weight gain and undermine your weight loss. Be carb-smart with your food choices.

Choose complex carbohydrates like whole-wheat bread, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, or corn tortillas. Other whole grains high in fiber include quinoa, oatmeal, buckwheat, and wild rice. Choose potato varieties that are higher in fiber and contain more nutrients like sweet potatoes, yams, or purple potatoes.

Lastly, simple carbohydrates can displace other more nutritious foods like lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and dairy. It is best to consume lean proteins first with vegetables and fruit and then if you are still hungry opt for a whole grain or colorful potato.

3. Skipping meals

It is a common misconception that if you skip a meal, you will consume fewer calories. However, skipping meals leads to more grazing during the day of snack foods, like crackers, chips, cookies, sweets, and sugary drinks, which are high in calories and low in nutritional value. When you skip meals, you tend to consume larger portions later in the day or even at night which can undermine your weight loss.

Lastly, when you skip meals your body thinks it’s starving, which can ultimately lower metabolism. According to the National Weight Control Registry of 4,000 individuals who have lost weight and been able to maintain it, they regularly consume breakfast and follow a consistent eating pattern on weekdays and weekends (Wing, 2005). Strive to consume at least 3 meals per day, including breakfast, and 1-2 snacks.

4. Not planning ahead

In order to lose or maintain weight, you should plan ahead. Don't wake up and decide what you’re going to eat. Instead, you should plan by writing a weekly menu, using it while grocery shopping and cooking meals. If you don’t have time to cook during the week, set aside time on the weekends where lunches and dinners can be prepped for the week.

If you don’t have time to bring lunch to work, research healthy options at nearby restaurants that contain lean proteins, vegetables, and whole grains with meals.

5. Not moving enough

In order to lose or maintain weight, physical activity is crucial. According to the National Weight Loss Registry, those who maintain their weight engage in at least one hour per day of high levels of physical activity (Wing, 2018).

The 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Adults recommends at least 150-300 minutes of moderate-intensity (can talk, but not sing while doing the activity) or 75-150 minutes of vigorous activity (can’t talk easily while doing the activity) at least three times per week (Piercy, 2018).

When choosing a physical activity, it should be enjoyable such as hiking, biking, or even kayaking. If you have pain with exercise, opt for low-impact activities like swimming, biking, or even chair exercises. Start with small goals and gradually increase to a goal of at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day.

6. Not enough sleep

Inadequate sleep of fewer than 6 hours per night has been associated with hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and mortality (Dashti, 2015). Also, when individuals are sleep deprived, hunger hormones are increased, which can ultimately lead to increased calorie consumption and weight gain and ultimately undermine your weight loss.

To optimize sleep, limit caffeine and alcohol, go to bed at the same time every night and turn off screens and electronics 1 hour before bed.

7. Continuous dieting

Diets are often restrictive and lead to increased hunger. Instead of dieting, choose a lifestyle that allows you to lose and maintain your weight. Find enjoyment in foods that are high in nutritional value and minimally processed like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, nuts, seeds, dairy, and whole grains. When it comes to vegetables the variety and preparations are limitless.

Vegetables can be consumed raw with a nice herbed yogurt dip or roasted with olive oil to concentrate their sweetness like bell peppers and onions.

Meats can be grilled, pan-seared, roasted, or braised for several hours to extract their natural juices. Also consider plant-based proteins like tofu, edamame, beans, lentils, nuts, and nut butters. Dairy from milk, cheese, and yogurt with less than 15g sugar are all good sources of calcium and protein that provide creaminess and saltiness to a dish.

Whole grains provide vitamins and fiber which add texture to any meal. If you have a sweet craving, choose foods that are naturally sweet and minimally processed such as fruit, dates, or dark chocolate. When you focus on consuming whole, minimally processed foods, you will be successful with long-term weight loss and maintenance.


  • Dashti, H. S., Scheer, F. A., Jacques, P. F., Lamon-Fava, S., & Ordovás, J. M. (2015). Short sleep duration and dietary intake: epidemiologic evidence, mechanisms, and health implications. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.)6(6), 648–659.
  • Hicks RA, McTighe S, Juarez M. Sleep duration and eating behaviors of college students. Percept Mot Skills. 1986 Feb;62(1):25-6.
  • Piercy KL, Troiano RP, Ballard RM, Carlson SA, Fulton JE, Galuska DA, George SM, Olson RD. The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. JAMA. 2018 Nov 20;320(19):2020-2028. doi: 10.1001/jama.2018.14854.
  • Schulze MB, Manson JE, Ludwig DS, Colditz GA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA. 2004 Aug 25;292(8):927-34. doi: 10.1001/jama.292.8.927.
  • Wing RR, Phelan S. Long-term weight loss maintenance. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005;82(1 Suppl):222S-225S.
  • Yang Q, Zhang Z, Gregg EW, Flanders WD, Merritt R, Hu FB. Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults. JAMA Intern Med. 2014;174(4):516–524.
undermine your weight loss
Kelly Corrigan


Kelly Corrigan, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and the Bariatric Nutrition Coordinator at Cedars-Sinai Marina Weight Loss Center. She believes that patients can lose and maintain weight when they focus on consuming whole foods that they prepare themselves. Prior to becoming a dietitian, Kelly attended culinary school and worked in restaurants cooking wholesome food.