20 Common Weight Loss Mistakes To Avoid If You Actually Want To Keep It Off

1. Go on a juice cleanse.

Drink only juice for days, or even a week and you might experience an initial drop in body weight. The lack of food is an automatic reduction in calories. 

Even thought calories are low on juice cleanse, the prescribed fruit and vegetable filled concoctions are high in carbohydrates and naturally occurring sugar. This constant influx of carbs and sugar, without the presence of other macronutrients like protein, blunts the fat burning process. 

Instead, the body opts for burning hard earned muscle for fuel - which usually explains the initial drop in weight. 

The real kicker is that muscle is our most metabolically active tissue. More lean muscle results in a healthier and stronger metabolism in the long run -  why would you waste it? 

Plus, throwing innocent whole fruit and veggies into a juicer removes most of the fiber.  You’ll still get nutrients, but the absence of natural fiber, the total lack of chewing and the liquid delivery method mainlines quickly digestible sugar into your bloodstream. 

You’ll feel irritable, moody or fatigued. Welcome to the blood sugar roller coaster! 

Contrast this with a normal apple. It requires chewing prior to digestion. All the naturally occurring carbs and sugar come with a healthy dose of fiber. It takes time to break down in the gut and these nutrients enter the bloodstream slowly. The chewing and the settling in the gut send satiety signals to the brain - hunger satisfaction is achieved. 

Any spike in blood sugar is further mitigated by eating a whole apple with a balanced meal containing lean protein, green vegetables, and healthy fats. You’ll get steady, sustained energy with feelings of fullness the way nature intended. 

Eat whole, real food vs. exclusively juice. 

2. Intermittent Fast With Butter Coffee

Gulping down liquid calories of butter, coconut oil, and caffeine in your morning cup of joe doesn’t count as a fast. The only thing this “optimized” coffee does is give you a 400-500 calorie jumpstart to your day.

…and it’s no surprise it kills hunger - it’s a large fat bomb. 

However, adding 400-500 liquid calories while still consuming the same amount of food throughout the rest of the day won’t allow you to burn excess body fat. 

If you’re a butter coffee fanatic, be sure to consider these extra liquid calories for your overall macronutrient needs. 

It’s also important to make sure the food you do eat on butter coffee days is super clean. Butter coffee in the morning is not a justification for pizza and pasta at lunch and dinner. A high fat, refined carbohydrate, junk food combo is a health disaster waiting to happen. 

3. Do more cardio.

Cardio does burn calories but typically in the moment and for the duration of the exercise.

However, when fat loss is the main goal - weight training is much more efficient and effective. Lifting weights breaks down muscle and the process of repairing muscle burns lots of calories.  

Since the muscle repair process lasts anywhere from 24-48 hrs post training - you’ll continue to burn fat long after your session is over. The same can’t be said for a jog. 

The added hormonal benefits of training with resistance further accelerates your results in achieving weight loss and lean muscle. 

I’ve heard too many people on a weight loss quest say they want to do cardio first. They claim once they get down to their desired body weight, then they’ll start hitting the weights. 

I urge you to do cardio and weights simultaneously on your journey. This combo gets you to you faster results with a leaner and more defined physique when you arrive at your goal weight. 

4. Diets are one size fits all - if it worked for a friend it will work for you. 

The answer to this is “it depends.” Everyone has unique needs. Each individual has varying sleep patterns, we all handle stress differently, and environmental influences play a role in our sensitivity to certain foods. 

Even further, genetic influences effect how we react to certain food protocols. A ketogenic diet can be life saving for a diabetic, or spell disaster for those individuals who genetically can’t handle high fat.

Stick to a process that works for you - make necessary lifestyle adjustments, consider individual nutrient needs and consider how genetics may effect your custom tailored approach. 

5. Just drop calories.

If an “expert” prescribes you 500 calories per day without exercise, please run the other way.  Much like the juice cleanse, a drastic drop in calories sets you up for failure. 

In order to counteract extremely low caloric intake, the body goes into starvation mode and metabolic rate begins to slow. 

Starvation diets are downright dangerous - hence the “no exercise allowed” caveat. The risk of fainting from malnutrition is a serious risk with this amount of deprivation. 

Big drops in calories aren’t sustainable. Discouraging exercise is absurd. Lasting and healthy weight loss is defined by lots of clean food paired with regular exercise.

….and the worst part is yet to come - you’ll have no idea how to eat when the 500 calorie restriction is over. 

I’ve observed these individuals go back to eating the same as before. Only now their metabolic rate and hormones are destroyed. The body hoards calories, weight is quickly regained and all chances of a healthy relationship with food are obliterated. It’s not okay. 

6. Use a fat burner. 

The only thing that works is consistent action over an extended period of time - not fat burners.

Develop the discipline to eat healthy foods and exercise regularly and body fat will drop. Motivation is fine but keep your “why” in mind throughout the entire process and this will be much greater asset than any pill.

Weight loss takes time, about 1- 2 lbs per week on average is a fair estimate. Set your goal, create a plan and get to work.

The research on fat burners just isn’t strong enough to validate their use. Despite the claims on the bottle, the only thing fast acting or immediate about this category of products is the temporary caffeine boost.

7. Do high reps to get shredded. 

Any type of movement is beneficial, and all workouts generally burn calories. High reps gear your workout towards muscular endurance - the ability to do a movement repeatedly before experiencing fatigue. They do not “burn more fat.” 

Lower reps with heavier weight, especially on compound lifts, provides a large hormonal boost. This surge in testosterone is beneficial for increased fat burning. 

Secondly, moving heavier weight for the compound lifts recruits more muscle groups, which burns additional calories. If you want to get lean, be sure to include heavier weight with lower reps, especially on squats and deadlifts. 

8. All you have to do is fit your macros. (IIFYM)

Using the disclaimer “it fits my macros” is not a valid excuse to eat junk. Yes, you may be able to still burn fat or even build muscle following a IIFYM approach, but it’s not an effective approach if it sacrifices long term health. 

Many macro fitting diets contain foods that include artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, and low quality sources overall. Somehow pop tarts and muffins with energy drinks are fair game. 

Occasional indulgence in these foods is okay, but eating junk for extended periods of time isn’t justifiable. Open season on processed foods and sugar free syrup doesn’t count as healthy or sustainable.

40 grams carbs from a bowl of fruit loops is not the same as 40 grams carbs from a sweet potato. Processed foods impair the gut, negatively effect mental wellbeing, and lead to prediabetes - despite how healthy the body looks on the outside. 

Health is paramount. Part of losing weight and keeping it off means developing quality food habits.

9. Eat less, move more. 

It’s not about eating less, as we discussed in #8. What you eat also matters. 

Lean meats, lots of vegetables, good fats and whole food carbs fuel the body while providing nourishing nutrition. Instead of just eating less, focusing on improving food quality increases your chances of long term weight loss success while adding nutrient density to your diet. 

100 calories of almonds is completely different that 100 calories of gummy bears.

Eating less and moving more doesn’t translate to: eat like a bird and do 2 cross fit workouts per day. A big drop in calories paired with a big rise in training volume leads to burnout, negative hormone balances and a heightened state of stress that promotes weight gain.

Instead, workouts should be intense - effective and efficient with adequate rest between sessions. 

Next, fuel the body with lots of high quality, whole food on a daily basis. 

Repeat consistently and results will follow. 

10. Go plant based.

Most people would benefit from increasing their greens, but it doesn’t mean you have to ditch the meat and go 100% plant based. Too often plant based eaters, especially vegans, eat total junk.

Eating pasta, soy products, vegan queso, potato chips, and french fries that are loaded with processed carbohydrates won’t help in dropping weight - regardless of their meat free status. 

Protein is important, and many plant based eaters rely heavily on large portions of rice and beans to meet their needs. Ultimately, their carbohydrate intake is excessive - no matter how many vegetables are consumed, weight loss is non existent. 

If you do decide to go plant based for your weight loss journey, get adequate protein, keep carbs in check, eat high quality food and reduce nutrient deficiencies through proper supplementation. 

11. Go gluten free. 

Just like a plant based, context matters. Are you eating gluten free junk or have you truly made a conscious decision to eliminate breads, pastas, cookies, pastries and pizza? 

Most people do experience weight loss on a gluten free diet because they drastically reduce their intake of common refined carbohydrates. It’s no secret that reducing or removing breads, pastas, cookies and bread is beneficial. 

….and if you have Celiacs, the choice isn’t optional, it’s required. A gluten sensitivity may cause a host of issues such as gas, bloating, skin irritation or headaches - you can make the call on whether or not these foods are worth it. 

The biggest issue with gluten free diets and weight loss is the caveat that just because something is gluten free, it doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Every hyper palatable food imaginable is now available in a gluten free version - breads, pastas, crackers, cookies, cakes, baked goods and desserts. 

These foods are still loaded with calories. They still pack a high refined carbohydrate punch. Even paleo treats don’t get a free pass just because they have the GF stamp of approval. 

The good news is whole, minimally processed foods are gluten free by nature’s design. 

12. Eat small meals frequently throughout the day.

Eating small meals every two hours will not stoke the metabolic fires. Not only is this technique ineffective, it’s extremely time consuming to implement. The mental effects of constantly worrying about your next meal is down right draining, it effects quality of life, and isn’t sustainable long term. 

Small meals eaten frequently enforces the need for a constant influx of food, it trains snacking as a necessary habit, and the inadequate serving size leaves your body feeling hungry and your brain craving more.

Total food intake matters more than how many meals the food is distributed across. 

You can intermittent fast, or eat a normal 3 meals and achieve all your wildest goals for muscle building and weight loss. 3 balanced meals per day, spaced roughly 3-5 hours apart is plenty for most individuals who want to maintain a healthy weight and get adequate nutrients. 

If you’re trying to pack on muscle, 4 meals might be the best way to get in the required calories for growth. Attempting to pack a muscle growth meal plan into only 3 meals can potentially leave you feeling overstuffed from larger than normal intake. 

Alternatively, it weight loss is the goal, having 3 regular meals gives you a decent sized composition of protein, veggies and fats that prevents cravings and keeps hunger at bay all day long.

If intermittent fasting fits your needs for morning productivity and you prefer to eat only 2 meals per day, make sure you’re getting ample protein, a variety of good fast plus lots of green veggies to ensure sufficient nutrient intake in those 2 meals. With only 2 chances for nutrition, you got to make them count! 

13. Do a detox.

Typical detoxes are a hoax. Your body is a professional at getting rid of toxins - especially if you’re a metabolically healthy individual. 

The body doesn’t need a break from digestion. There isn’t junk built up in your system that, when eliminated, miraculously drops body fat. 

You can cut back on sugar. You can go cold turkey on caffeine. You can eat super clean, organic and all whole foods so the body has less intake of toxins to process in the first place.

…… but going straight lemon, cayenne and syrup is a scam perpetuated by celebrity endorsement.

14. Avoid eating fruit. 

Whole, real, fruit gets a bad wrap because its comparison to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is typically created in a lab, made with gmo ingredients, and found in junk foods devoid of nutrients. Unfortunately, this causes confusion with the naturally occurring sugar in fruit known as fructose. 

Fructose is a unique type of sugar that digests slowly - in whole fruit, it’s accompanied by fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Whole fruit has to be chewed and digested and is not rapidly absorbed. 

HFCS is liquid - it’s easily over consumed in this form, often present in hyper palatable junk food, and get’s rapidly absorbed due to the lack of fiber.

Eating 2-3 pieces per day from whole fruits while keeping total carbohydrate in check is an excellent way to get in nourishing nutrition without hindering fat loss goals. 

Consider 1 cup of berries for good antioxidant and nutrient benefits with minimal impact on carbohydrate totals.

15. You need cheat days.

Since restricting calories for too long can lead to metabolic slowdown, a cheat day is often promoted as the cure all to amp up calories and stoke the metabolic fires. It’s often an excuse to throw caution to the wind, eat whatever crap you want, and do it all under the guise that it’s required to continue making weight loss progress. 

Eating anything and everything under the cheat day umbrella is a good way to set yourself back a few weeks from all your hard earned progress. The occasionally re-feed from a temporary bump in calories can be beneficial. 

Just stick to real, whole food and increase carbohydrate intake in a couple meals or for a day. It shouldn’t be an excuse to go all out on junk at every meal. 

16. Do an alkaline diet. 

Just because a food is acidic, doesn’t mean it will negatively effect the ph of your body. Our bodies tightly regulate this crucial system. Since foods are contained in the digestive tract, they don’t readily have an effect our ph. 

An acidic environment in the body is often the result of chronic, fundamental errors - poor lifestyle choices, lots of junk food, a lack of sleep or the presence of disease. It’s not the result of whether or not you just drank alkaline water. 

Keep the big picture in mind and nail the fundamentals consistently. Your body will take care of the rest. 

17. Run in a sweat suit. 

Sweat is not fat crying. There’s zero correlation with how much you sweat and how much fat is lost. The only thing a sweat suite is good at is reducing water weight within the body. Any weight loss experienced is short lived and simply a result of water loss. 

If you need to cut weight for a sport - go for it!

Individuals chasing general fitness improvement with fat loss as a goal will benefit more from sufficient hydration. Adequate water intake improves performance and allows for greater intensity during workouts - a key factor of true fat loss. 

18. Lose the fat in your food. 

Losing fat in the diet won’t lead to decreases in body fat. Fats are important for absorbing vitamins and minerals, as well as promoting healthy hormone levels.

Eating lots of good fats, especially coconut oil, MCT’s, avocado, nuts and more give the body the good fat it needs to mobilize and burn stored fats.

Fats provide a calorically dense fuel source for both the body and brain, keeps hunger at bay in between meals and increases absorption of many micronutrients required for metabolic efficiency. 

19. Eat magic foods

Much like unicorns, magic foods don’t exist. There isn’t a superfood that, when consumed, turns your body into a fat burning machine. There isn’t one secret item that, if avoided, all your weight loss woes are eliminated. 

Losing weight or building muscle takes time, consistent focus and discipline. It’s not one food, it’s not white rice vs brown rice, and there are no shortcuts. 

20. Use the latest technology

You don’t need the latest app to get fit. Simple methods such as following the hand guide for plating and portioning food is highly effective while eliminating the need for fancy technology. 

You don’t need a fancy training mask to deprive your oxygen. A high level of fitness is the result of multiple training sessions with proper progressions. 

You don’t need a fancy exercise video game, a grass field can get you all the cardio and body weight workouts you could possibly need. 

At the end of the day, weight loss is about the basics. Eat whole, minimally processed foods 90% of the time. Move daily. Get adequate sleep and practice stress management. 

No tricks, secrets, or expenses required. 

Written by Brett - Nutrition & Health Coach / Co-Founder of Moontower Matcha
Brett has worked for the last 10 years with thousands of individuals one-on-one to achieve their own health and fitness goals.
His mission is to share healthy habits, real-world solutions, and comprehensive strategies around nutrition, movement, sleep, and stress management to help guide individuals to the results they desire most. 


Older Post Newer Post