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Seven diet traps to be aware of

Belfast personal trainer and nutritionist Alan Waterman reveals the diet mistakes you're making

By Alan Waterman

You probably don't need me to tell you that losing weight or getting in shape is a two-pronged commitment.

Improving both our diet and exercise levels is essential for getting the most out of our healthy pursuits and we should always try and consider implementing both when wanting to make changes to how we look and feel.

Of the two, people tend to struggle much more with diet than exercise, and it's not made any easier by the fact that there's a seemingly endless amount of false information and inappropriate advice so readily available.

Here are my seven biggest diet offenders:

1. Cheat meals

The idea of cheat meals is extremely outdated, serves no real purpose other than a psychological break from strict eating patterns and can bring us dangerously close to damaging our relationship with food.

Rather than building our week towards a designated cheat meal, a better option is to practice moderation of those 'treat' foods right throughout the week.

2. Low/zero-carb diets

Despite what you've maybe heard, low-carb diets offer us any additional weight loss benefits compared to high-carb diets, and most of the initial loss we see is from water, not bodyfat. Most people will struggle to stick to a low-carb diet, which will ultimately lead us to a failure to maintain whatever results we get from it.

3. Clean eating

Although the idea of exclusively eating highly nutritious food seems like a good idea, most will find it unsustainable and potentially risk damaging their relationship with food.

As the main basis for weight loss is the principle of calories in vs. calories out, it's not so much about what foods we're eating so much as it is how many calories they contain. As such, there's no reason to believe we can't include any type of food in our diet.

4. Gluten-free/vegan/paleo, etc.

Outside of ethical or medical reasons to eliminate any whole food group from our diet, there's no proof to suggest that doing so actually provides any additional weight loss or health benefits (and it often strains our wallets).

Many of us find ourselves jumping on the bandwagon for diets that are against our preference, simply because they are 'trendy' or have us buying into unfounded health claims, without considering their long-term sustainability.

5. Eating six meals a day

The myth of eating smaller meals more frequently leads to many of us trying to eat on a schedule which doesn't suit our lifestyle.

Not only does it fail to offer the metabolic boost we've been led to believe it does, but it's also largely impractical for the majority of us. Eating our meals on a frequency which suits us individually will always be the best option.

6. Celebrity-endorsed supplements

If you engage in social media, you've no doubt seen dozens of celebrities promoting certain weight loss products- juices, cleanses, powders, etc.

The effectiveness of these products compared to a properly structured diet? Absolutely zero.

Just because your favourite celeb is recommending them doesn't mean they think it'll help you get results- it's more about them getting their next paycheck than helping support your weight loss goals.

7. Eating breakfast

Most important meal of the day? Not so much.

In fact, breakfast is often eaten out of habit, despite many of us not being hungry throughout the morning, which adds unnecessary calories into our daily consumption.

Research supports the idea that not only do people who force themselves to eat breakfast consume more calories daily, but also that it doesn't provide the metabolic boost you've been told it does. The take home point? Eat it if you want to, but it makes no difference if you don't.

Want to discover more about what you need to be doing to achieve the health or weight loss goals you have?

Grab your completely free copy of my guidebook Fitness BS by clicking here. You can also check us out on Facebook and Instagram for more daily advice and tips.

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