With weight loss the most commonly cited health-related goal, it is not surprising that losing weight is a popular topic of conversation. But are you doing it right? Dietitian Susie Burrell explains.

Despite the ever-increasing number of diets, and more weight loss advice available than ever before, few of us ever achieve the weight loss goals we have for ourselves.

So as a clinical dietitian working with clients on weight-related goals, here are some of the key reasons I observe my clients failing to reach their weight loss targets.

1. Inconsistency

One of the greatest issues when it comes to sustained weight loss is that people eat different things most days, which translates into significant caloric discrepancies over the course of a week.

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Here, a week of lower-calorie eating is often negated by a weekend of constant overeating, yielding no weight loss.

The secret to achieving sustainable, consistent weight loss over a four to 16-week period is consistency. Weight loss will be slower this way, but it will be consistent.

2. Mindless munching

If you kept a food diary, and accurately recorded everything that you ate and drank over the course of a day, chances are there would be several occasions throughout the day when you were eating things you did not pay a lot of attention to.

An extra biscuit here, a bite of some leftovers there, or a handful of grapes when you walk past the kitchen, those calories that all ultimately add up. You will be surprised how putting a complete stop to mindless munching significantly impacts your weight loss efforts.

3. Eating away from home

With data suggesting that at least 1/3 of all the food we consume is purchased away from the home, at cafes, restaurants or home delivery, it would also appear that we are likely eating a lot more calories than we realise.

Meals we buy away from home, even similar meals to what we might prepare are significantly higher in fat, calories and processed carbohydrates thanks to the liberal use of oils, higher fat ingredients, and fewer low-calorie vegetables overall.

While we may ‘think’ we are making healthy choices when ordering in or eating out, frequent eating out is rarely conducive to successful weight loss.

4. Going too hard at the start

We have all started a strict diet only to fall off the wagon a few days later because we are feeling hungry, deprived and cannot stop thinking about food.

All diets will work if they are followed but the key to success is finding a diet that you are able to follow long term without feeling restricted. Once you achieve this you will be able to develop the structure and consistency that predicts weight loss success long term.

5. You’re just not moving

When you consider calories and weight loss, you are generally working with a few hundred calories difference between weight loss and not. On the other hand, the most significant change to our lifestyle in the past 10-20 years has been the significant reduction in the amount of activity the average person does on a daily basis.

It is not uncommon for an office worker to move as little as 2000-3000 steps a day, which means the muscles are burning significantly fewer calories than they did 20 years ago. While we can continue to cut calories, severe calorie restriction is tough at the best of times.

On the other hand, burning more calories on a daily basis from much more movement is one of the easiest ways we can all get on top of our weight. This is not exercise, but rather a basic need the human body has to be active and work to metabolise the food we have consumed.

Susie Burrell is a dietitian and nutritionist and holds a Master’s Degree in Coaching Psychology. Susie is the resident dietitian on Channel 7’s Sunrise and has been a dietitian in Sydney for more than 20 years.

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