Strategies for weight loss and fixes for those that don’t work

Published 11:03 am Friday, September 28, 2012

There are many strategies for losing weight. However, some that seem to make sense to many, actually make individuals gain. Today, I’m going to describe some of these weight loss strategies, how they can backfire, and fixes to help you reach your goals.
1) You save your calories for a big dinner. While it’s true, cutting calories the right way can help us lose fat, it’s not a good idea to have all those calories at one time, late in the day. This can cause  an over-production of ghrelin, a hormone that actually causes hunger.
Also, if you eat most of your calories at night, you’ll not be as hungry at breakfast. By dinner time, you’ll be starving again, thus creating a vicious cycle.
Fix: Eat a good breakfast with plenty of carbohydrates (for energy) and protein (to stabilize blood sugar).
2) You splurge on foods that are fat free or sugar-free. Many folks tend to think it’s okay to eat all the foods labeled diet they want, whether they are lower in calories or not.
Also, many foods labeled fat free are loaded with calories from sugar, and foods that have no added sugar can still be loaded. No sugar added ice cream, for example, still contains lactose (milk sugar).
Fix: Become a label reader. Check the listing of “total” carbohydrates and fats. Remember, because many diet foods sometime seem less satisfying, folks tend to eat more of them, so it’s okay to have the real thing, at times, just watch your portion size.
3) You assume healthy foods are always low in calories. While it’s true, foods like fish, chicken, beans, nuts, and yogurt are good for us, they’re not devoid of calories.
Some  believe they can eat as much of these as they want, and not gain weight, but that’s just not true.
Fix: Again, read labels. Look for “total” calories and serving size. Also, don’t fall into the protein trap.
Remember, protein has as many calories (4) per gram as carbohydrates. Many people who wouldn’t eat a six-ounce bag (that is a family sized bag) of potato chips in one sitting, wouldn’t think twice of ordering an eight once sirloin steak. Remember, calories are calories.
4) You set only short-term weight-loss goals. So many folks say something like, “I want to lose 25 pounds by spring,”  then they just try to hang on. This rarely works, because even if they do reach their goal, they’ve pushed so hard, they usually start going back to bad habits.
The National Weight Control Registry estimates only 20 percent of dieters keep their lost weight off for a year.
Fix: Don’t just diet. Make small life style changes, over time. This helps create “good” habits. Remember, slow and steady wins this race.
5) You cut way back on calories for a whole month, so you can spurge at an upcoming event. While it’s true, consuming too many calories isn’t good, cutting back too much can make you gain even more weight.
Always remember, your body can’t tell the difference between what you “choose” to do, or what you “have” to do. When you go days, eating too little, your body doesn’t know you’re choosing not to eat, it just thinks foods not available.
Your body on some level, then believes you might waist away, and responds by slowing your metabolism down. This in turn, magnifies every calorie you consume.
Fix: Start slowly losing body fat three months before your event. Don’t starve yourself, but rather, cut back slowly, about 200 calories a day. Also, eat more low calorie, water rich vegetables, and be sure to exercise. This will not only help you lose weight, but create better health habits.
Diet or exercise question? Email me at or visit
David Crocker of Landrum has been a nutritionist and master personal trainer for 26 years. He served as strength director of the Spartanburg Y.M.C.A., head strength coach for the USC-Spartanburg baseball team, S.C. state champion girls gymnastic team, and the Converse College equestrian team.
He also served as a water safety consultant to the United States Marine Corps, lead trainer to L.H. Field modeling agency and a teacher for four semesters at USC-Union. David was also a regular guest of the Pam Stone radio show.

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