6 Diet Tricks That Are Actually Making You Gain Weight

It's summer and you want to tighten up for the beach. You learned new weight loss tricks and you're still gaining weight while meeting with a personal trainer in Chicago. Why? You'll want to read this recent article from Prevention magazine. I've extracted the top 6 diet tricks you need to forget.


We all (understandably!) want something quick, easy, and painless, but if the diet sounds too good to be true, it probably is. "As a society, we are always looking for a quick fix," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDE, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "Expecting results without a long-term lifestyle plan is unrealistic and destined for failure."

Despite your best intentions, these diet tricks might actually be sabotaging your hard work to lose some weight.

1. Skipping meals

A new study may shed some light on why skipping meals can backfire: A group of mice was placed on a restricted diet; they ate all their food at one time, fasted the rest of the day, and initially lost weight. Another group was free to eat continuously throughout the day."When we started feeding the restricted diet group the same amount as the other group, they would still eat all the food within a couple hours," says Martha Belury, PhD, RD, the study's author and a nutrition professor at Ohio State University in Columbus. "They had already set themselves up for feasting and then fasting for up to 20 hours a day," not unlike some human behavior. The researchers also noticed physiological changes, including regained weight and an uptick in visceral fat (which surrounds internal organs in the abdominal area and has been linked to an increased risk for serious disease) because of a hormonal reaction to the restricted diet and the subsequent binge.

"Normally, you wake up in the morning and your liver pumps out a low amount of glucose. You have a meal, and insulin levels go up in response, and then your liver stops producing glucose because your organs have it from the food," she says. "In these mice, their livers couldn't stop." While we can't know for sure if human livers and fat would respond in the same way, skipping meals may set some people up for detrimental gorging later on."Most people assume that if you skip a meal you'll eat fewer calories for the whole day," says Angela Ginn-Meadow, RDN, CDE, a food and nutrition expert. "But going longer periods of time without any food puts you in a danger zone of being really hungry, and you can make poor choices or eat more than planned."

2. Drinking Diet Soda

Cutting out calories from your soda habit seems like a smart move, but there's ever-growing evidence that drinking diet soda has no benefit whatsoever. In fact, a number of studies have found that diet soda consumption is linked with obesity, and the most recent research suggests a particular link with belly fat. There are a number of theories as to why this might be, but some experts believe that artificial sweeteners trick the body. "Diet soda causes conflict in the body; you get the perception of sweet taste without the energy that typically accompanies it," Sheth says. In other words, your body is primed to expect calories from the sweet taste, but then receives zero, sending you straight to the snack stash.Diet soda might also act as an unwarranted get-out-of-jail-free card for some people, Ginn-Meadow says. "If you said, 'I'm going to have a double cheeseburger with onion rings because I'm drinking a diet soda,' that's not helping you."

3. Eating fat-free foods

An upsetting secret of fat-free and low-fat foods: manufacturers often up the sugar count to make up for the lack of fat-based flavor. "In some shelf-stable products such as fat-free cookies, you might end up with more sugar and almost the same calories as the regular version," Sheth says. In a recent study, people who ate low- or non-fat dairy actually ate more carbs throughout the day than people who stuck to whole-fat dairy. "Fat is satisfying," Ginn-Meadow says. "People aren't successful at maintaining low-fat diets because they're hungry." Just stick to the "good" fats: poly and monounsaturated ones in fish, olive oil, and avocado, to name a few.

4. Taking "miracle" pills

Yes, there are FDA-approved weight-loss pills to help you along a weight-loss journey, but that doesn't mean you sit back and enjoy the ride. It seems that people pop a diet pill and suddenly feel less pressure to hit the gym (according to one new study, this may be the result of how pills are marketed to us, but that's another story). "You need to learn skills that will allow you to be successful in the short- and long-term," Sheth says, and not rely on a pill to do the work for you. Also, if you read the drug information very carefully, you'll notice that they're meant to be taken in conjunction with exercise and a healthy-eating plan—so they're not magical after all.

5. Counting calories

The total number of calories you take in might not be as important as the type of calories. Researchers argue this is because calories from simple carbs like sugar and white bread spike blood sugar levels, which in turn raise insulin. Then, the resulting crash leaves you searching for more carbs, reinforcing a pattern of overeating. People who count calories might also be tempted to avoid foods with more fat to cut calories, but we already know that going fat-free won't do you any favors (see above).However, there is good news: Counting calories can be a helpful tactic when eating at a restaurant. "When we dine out, meals are often very high in calories, so if you have a calorie budget, you won't get so overwhelmed," Ginn-Meadow says. A budget might mean deciding to consume 500 calories or less during a Friday night out with friends.

6. Weighing yourself

While experts recommend checking your progress from time to time, becoming too obsessed with the number on the scale is a slippery slope. "I have clients who become easily disheartened by minimal changes when weighing themselves," Sheth says. You probably won't see enormous variations day to day—nor should you. A safe weight loss pace is about one to two pounds a week, so for some people, weekly weigh-ins might offer insight into whether they're on track. Just try not to compare your results to anyone else's. "You have to realize that you're an individual, and everybody loses weight differently," she says. "You're going at your own pace."

Article Credit:
Author: Prevention Magazine
6 Diet Tricks That Are Actually Making You Gain Weight
Adapted from the Prevention Magazine article "8 Diet Tricks That Are Actually Making You Gain Weight"