LEAN: 5 Worst Ways to Lose Weight, From a Registered Dietitian

Did you know that the majority of weight loss advice you’ve received in your life is just plain wrong

There’s so much confusing, unvetted information out there from TikTokers, and pseudo-experts who push fads and diets. Navigating all the contradicting diet advice can make many of us want to give up, or be overwhelmed to even get started. 

In this blog post, I’ll walk you through 5 diet trends that don’t work, and why I, a Registered Dietitian, thinks that you should avoid these if you’re embarking on a weight loss journey. 

1. The Chronic Calorie Cutter

In the last two decades working in health and fitness, this is a weight loss strategy that I’ve seen over and over, but it doesn’t work. In fact, it actually makes weight loss nearly impossible. 

Living in a caloric deficit and chronically undereating is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your weight loss journey. It backfires in three ways: 

  • Chronic undereating lowers your metabolism: Eating less than your body needs long-term will only teach your body to burn fewer calories in the day. It’s called a starvation cycle. The fewer calories you eat, the fewer your body will burn. Chronically eating fewer calories than your body needs can decrease your metabolism by as much as 25%! Even worse, this adjustment in your metabolism can last for decades after you stop your calorie-restricting diet.

  • Chronic undereating decreases your protein intake: If you’re eating very few calories, you’re almost certainly skimping on the most important macronutrient for weight loss: protein. Eating too little protein will not only slow down your metabolism and weight loss, it will also hinder your overall health. Low protein can lead to a weakened immune system, bone fractures, hair loss, high blood pressure, and hormonal imbalance. 

  • Chronic undereating opens the doors to eating disorders: Over time, your body will compensate for the calorie deficit by shutting down the reproductive system and breaking down muscle and bone. Eventually, regardless of how much willpower you have to stick with your diet, your body will take over. In an attempt to save you and your health, your body will demand whatever energy-boosting, calorically dense food is closest. Many undereaters find themselves in a starve-binge cycle that’s extremely hard to break. 

We need calories to survive and thrive. A small, manageable, temporary, and strategic calorie deficit will help you lose excess weight. Taking an axe to our daily calories, thankfully, is not the path to weight loss. 

2. The Carb Cutter

Carbs are complicated. And the conversation around them is confusing, to say the least. 

Carbs take a lot of crap, but they’re critical for healthy weight loss and your long-term health. Low-carb diets can be helpful in the short term to lose weight, improve blood sugar levels, and lower blood pressure. However, continuous and extreme carb restriction in the long term has been linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other complications

Since carbs are found in such a diverse array of foods (some very healthy and some extremely unhealthy), claims about carbs as a whole tend to be off the mark. Eating carbs in excess (if you eat more than your body needs) or regularly eating unhealthy carbs (like refined flour, sugar, and soda) can cause weight gain. 

The truth is, we need carbs in order to lose weight. Fiber, for example, is one type of carbohydrate that’s critical for weight loss. In addition to weight control, fiber helps to prevent type 2 diabetes

If you’re eating the right amount of healthy carbs (like whole grains, sweet potatoes, and chickpeas) you’ll actually experience more energy, better digestion, and easier long-term control over your weight. 

3. The Fat Fearer

Fat has gotten a bad rep over the decades. It’s been blamed as the sole cause of inflammation, weight gain, heart health, cholesterol, you name it. But fat as a whole is not the culprit when it comes to disease, inflammation, or excess weight. 

The fat found in chips, cookies, and greasy, fried foods can increase cholesterol, increase your risk for certain diseases, and cause weight gain. Bad fats to avoid include vegetable oil, corn oil, safflower oil, soybean oil, and cottonseed oil. 

These oils are processed at extreme temperatures, which creates byproducts that are very harmful to the human body. Then, petroleum-based solvents are added to maximize the amount of extracted oil. At this point, the oil is so undesirable that manufacturers have to add deodorizing chemicals to make them even palatable.

But good fats, like the kind found in whole foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, and salmon, protect your heart, support your mental health, and aid in weight loss. 

4. The Cardio-Aholic

For decades, women have been trapped on the treadmill. We’ve thought that to lose weight we have to burn calories, and the best way to do that is pounding the pavement. Strength training? That’s for people who want to bulk up—or so we thought.

It’s true that a cardio workout burns more calories in the moment than weight training. But where strength training excels that cardio does not, is that it torches calories long after you’ve finished your workout. 

A review of 18 studies found that resistance training increased resting metabolic rate, while cardio exercise had a much smaller metabolic impact. Strength training prompts an “after-burn” effect — research shows that your metabolism stays elevated for up to 38 hours after a strength training session. 

Cardio workouts are beneficial for your health, but they should never take the place of weight lifting. If you want to give your metabolism a real boost, pick up the weights and start a strength-training routine.

5. The Fad Trend Finder

The latest Fad Dieting trend is weight loss drugs. Weight loss drugs, like Ozempic and Wegovy, have taken over America by storm. Today, nearly half of US adults are interested in taking a drug like Ozempic to lose weight, according to a new poll. But a closer look at these drugs will disturb you. 

The most up-to-date data on weight loss drugs is showing that people are losing weight, but up to 40% of that weight is from lean muscle mass. This stat is scary, and I want to tell you why.

Your lean muscle mass is your absolute metabolic powerhouse. If we’re overweight, it’s good for our bodies to lose fat, but it’s very bad for our bodies to lose muscle mass. If our muscle mass drops, so does our metabolism, which means we have to eat less and less each day to maintain our weight loss. 

Not only are people on Ozempic and Wegovy gaining their lost weight back, their metabolic rate is much lower than before they took the weight loss drug. That means that even if you’re dieting, most of what you eat will be stored as fat. Further weight gain down the line then becomes nearly inevitable. 


You’re So Close to Long-Term Weight Loss

You know I won’t judge if I see you digging into a plate of nachos or downing a beer. As a Registered Dietitian, I believe that healthy living isn’t about caging ourselves in and keeping every unhealthy ingredient out.

Healthy living is about making educated and empowered choices about what you’re eating, taking the confusion out of cooking, and creating a diet that maximizes your vibrancy and joy in life.

Here’s how one woman found her path to health and long-term weight loss: 

I’m 55 years old. For the past 5 years, my work has been incredibly stressful. I didn’t have the energy to take care of myself. I was in survival mode. 

A year ago, I diligently followed Weight Watchers. It didn’t work. After 3 months, I lost 5 pounds and 0 inches. 

Then, a friend told me about a different program, called LEAN. I was so intrigued. First, this program was scientifically based. Second, the staff was so encouraging and responsive to all the questions I had. 

I jumped in. Over the next seven weeks, I lost 14 inches and 13 pounds! I haven’t felt this great in many, many years. The education and concepts I learned in this program led me to the path of success. I wholeheartedly know that I will follow these core concepts for a very, very long time. 

If you want to learn the most sustainable and reliable way to lose weight, learn about my program LEAN where I’ve helped over 74,000 people hit their weight loss goals. 

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