menuPaul's Pharmacy logo
overweight woman sitting next to scale and tape measure with head in hands feeling frustrated

14 Common Weight Loss Mistakes to Avoid When Trying to Lose Weight

May 20, 2024

Losing weight can be a challenge. Even when you feel like you are doing everything right, you may not see the results you’re after. You may know that in order to lose weight you need to eat fewer calories and exercise more. However, there are right and wrong ways to do this. If you’re trying to lose weight and aren’t seeing positive changes, you may be following misguided advice or missing a crucial step. Here are some of the most common weight loss mistakes people make that may be preventing you from reaching your goals.

1. Skipping Meals

empty plate with fork, knife, naptkin

You likely already know that losing weight requires a calorie deficit, meaning you need to burn more calories than you consume. One of the most common weight loss mistakes people make is trying to reduce calorie intake by skipping meals. However, skipping a meal often leads to overeating later on because you feel even hungrier. This practice can also negatively impact your blood sugar levels, energy levels, and metabolism. Instead of skipping meals, focus on eating balanced meals with the correct portion sizes.

2. Focusing on the Scale

Another one of the most common weight loss mistakes is placing too much focus on the scale. It’s easy to feel disheartened if you don’t see the number on the scale going down quickly. However, it’s important to remember that the scale is only one measure of weight change. The number on the scale can be influenced by a variety of factors, such as fluid fluctuations, hormonal changes, and the amount of food in your system. It may not be changing if you are losing fat but holding on to water or gaining muscle. Instead of focusing solely on your weight, use a tape measure and monthly photos of yourself to indicate that you are losing fat and making progress toward your goals.

3. Not Exercising

group of senior adults jogging outdoors

A common weight loss mistake is trying to lose weight by diet alone without exercise. If you restrict calories without exercising, you may lose more muscle mass than fat and experience a decreased metabolic rate. Exercising helps you maintain lean muscle mass, increase fat loss, and keep your metabolic rate up. The more lean muscle mass you have, the easier it is for your body to lose fat and maintain a healthy weight. There are a number of great at-home weight loss exercises you can do to burn calories and increase muscle mass.

4. Relying on Low-Fat or “Diet” Foods

If your goal is to lose weight, one of the easiest weight loss mistakes to make is relying on low-fat and diet foods. You may get into the habit of looking for foods with these labels and trusting that they must be diet-friendly to help you lose weight. However, many of these foods contain excess fats, hidden calories, and artificial sweeteners, which can increase sugar cravings and reduce energy levels, leading to weight gain. Instead of consuming foods with low-fat and diet labels, focus on replacing foods high in saturated fats with foods high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats as well as reducing your intake of foods with added sugars and refined carbohydrates.

5. Having Unrealistic Goals and Expectations

woman writing Goals on notepad

While it’s great to set weight loss and health-related goals, one of the most common weight loss mistakes is setting unrealistic goals or having unreasonable expectations. Goal-setting helps keep you motivated as you can track your progress toward your goals. Unrealistic goals do the opposite because you are more likely to miss your weight loss goal, leading to dissatisfaction and discouragement. Make sure you keep your goals and expectations practical, such as a five percent drop in weight at a rate of one to two pounds per week.

6. Not Tracking What You Eat

Diet is a vital component of weight loss. You may think that eating nutritious, healthy foods is all it takes to lose weight. However, this is one of the most common weight loss mistakes that people make. Even if you are primarily eating nutritious foods, you should still be tracking what you eat. You may be eating more calories than your body needs, preventing you from losing weight. You should keep track of calories as well as the types of foods you eat to make sure you are getting the right amount of fiber, protein, carbs, and fat that your body needs while also maintaining a calorie deficit.

7. Overlooking Hydration

young woman drinking water

You may know that it’s healthy to drink water, but you may not know the important role water plays in weight loss. Drinking enough water keeps your metabolic rate high, promotes healthy digestion, and reduces hunger. It is typically recommended for adults to drink at least eight glasses of water each day, but you may need more during physical activity and in warmer weather. If you are dehydrated, your body will have difficulty burning fat and keeping your energy levels up.

8. Eating Too Little Protein

One of the most common weight loss mistakes is neglecting protein. There are several key nutrients that play a role in weight regulation, and protein is one of them. Protein helps you feel satisfied and keeps sugar cravings at bay. It also prevents excess fat deposits that occur from sugar overloads. Additionally, this macronutrient helps the body produce heat to burn calories. This is why it’s important to make sure you are eating enough protein in your weight loss diet to support your physical activity and fat burning.

9. Overestimating Calories Burned in Exercise

looking at fitness tracker displaying heart rate, steps, and calories burned while standing on scale

A common weight loss mistake is overestimating how many calories you're actually burning during exercise. While it is true that exercise increases your metabolic rate, it may not cause you to burn as many calories as you think. People tend to assume they burn significantly more calories through exercise than they really do. It’s important to understand how much exercise you’re really getting and the number of calories you’re burning so you can make sure you’re actually maintaining a calorie deficit.

10. Not Getting Enough Sleep

Your sleep and your weight are closely linked. While you sleep, your body makes leptin and ghrelin, which are satiety and hunger hormones. If you don’t produce enough of these hormones while you sleep, you will feel hungrier the next day. Not getting enough sleep can also make you more likely to overeat and make poor decisions about the foods you eat. Because most people do not know the relationship between sleep and weight, not getting enough sleep is one of the most common weight loss mistakes. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night so you can reach your weight goals.

11. Allowing Too Many “Cheat” Meals

overweight man holding donut over assortment of junk food

One of the most commonly made weight loss mistakes is allowing too many cheat meals. Allowing yourself to occasionally have food outside of your weight loss diet will not derail your weight loss efforts. However, allowing yourself to eat too many cheat meals can interfere with your ability to reach your goals. You may stick to a strict diet for the whole week, but then let yourself eat mindlessly on the weekend. This can nullify your calorie deficit during the week, making it very difficult to reach your weight loss goals.

12. Relying Only on Exercise

Another one of the weight loss mistakes that people often make is trying to rely solely on exercise. You can’t lose weight with exercise alone. Your weight loss journey should include both exercise and diet. Even if you exercise vigorously, you can’t maintain a calorie deficit if you continue to eat a lot of processed and sugary foods. Additionally, excessive exercise isn’t sustainable long-term and may lead to stress on the body. It isn’t healthy or effective to try to force your body to burn more calories by exercising too much.

13. Drinking Too Much Alcohol

 assortment of cocktails on dark background

You may be paying very careful attention to the foods you eat, but you need to also consider the drinks you consume. Drinking too much alcohol can make it difficult to lose weight. While alcohol in moderation is generally considered acceptable from an overall health perspective, it can hinder your weight loss efforts. Alcohol is high in calories with zero nutritional benefits, especially when mixed in sugary cocktails. Consuming alcohol can also lead to food cravings, making it more difficult to keep to your diet. Cutting back or cutting out alcohol can be a great way to reduce your calorie intake and avoid unnecessary cravings.

14. Not Using Supplements to Support Weight Loss

It can be difficult to lose weight through diet and exercise alone. Nutritional supplements can support your efforts to help you make progress along your weight loss journey. If your body isn’t getting all the nutrients it needs to support weight loss from food alone, supplements may be necessary. There are a number of supplements for weight loss that help support healthy digestion and metabolism so your body can more effectively digest foods and convert them to energy. Berberine can help decrease body weight and body mass index when combined with diet and exercise for more effective weight loss. Supplements such as Shred It Liver Support and Appe-Curb can also help you reach your weight loss goals by promoting cardiometabolic health and reducing cravings to help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Here at Paul’s Pharmacy, our goal is to help you become your healthiest self. If you need advice on losing weight or are interested in learning more about weight loss supplements, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at one of our pharmacy locations! We look forward to helping you achieve your health goals!