What are some things I shouldn't do if I want to lose weight?

Tanya Zuckerbrot
Nutrition & Dietetics

Do not skip meals! I repeat...Do not skip meals! 

Skipping meals does not help weight loss or dieting! Many people mistakenly believe that by skipping meals, they will save on calories, and lose more weight. Surprisingly, skipping meals may inhibit weight loss and even lead to weight gain over time. When your body is deprived of food for many hours between meals, it starts conserving fuel and burning fewer calories to protect itself from starving. Your metabolism slows down, therefore inhibiting weight loss despite reduced caloric intake.

In addition, skipping meals causes sugar levels to begin to drop. Low blood sugar can produce sudden hunger pangs, which can trigger bingeing and food cravings. Regular, frequent meals and snacks rather than two or three big meals are the best bet for maintaining a constant energy supply and avoiding fatigue.


Some things to avoid when losing weight include:

  • Consuming less than 1000 calories per day. Very low calorie diets are dangerous, difficult to sustain, and often ineffective for long-term weight loss.
  • Eating snacks directly out of the bag. When you’re eating snacks, measure a portion into a separate bowl and put the bag away. Eating out of the bag often leads to overconsumption.
  • Skipping meals. Skipping meals causes hunger and oftentimes leads to overeating later on that day. When you’re hungry the temptation for high-calorie high-fat foods increases, sabotaging your efforts.
  • Setting unrealistic goals. Safe long-lasting weight loss takes time and determination. You did not gain the weight overnight, and unfortunately it does not come off overnight either. When you’re eating right and exercising regularly, expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week. One pound of fat equals approximately 3,500 calories. Thus in order to lose 2 pounds of fat per week, you must be in a caloric deficit of 7,000 calories (1,000 calories per day).
  • Exercising too much too soon. When starting an exercise plan, opt for a slow and steady approach. Allow your body time to adjust to the exercises. A little soreness can be expected, but overdoing it can cause injury and setbacks.
One of my personal rules in weight loss is to not completely eliminate foods I like but are not necessarily good for me.  If you deprive yourself of your favorite foods, it may lead to binging on that food somewhere down the line, and can destroy your best attempts at weight loss.  Instead, be sure to eat healthy foods that are packed full of nutrition, but lower in calories.  Then, when you want to have that cookie or whatever your "not so good for you" food is, have a small portion after you have filled up on the healthier, low calorie foods.

Be around negative people.  Negativity will kill weight loss quicker than anything else.  

For whatever reason some people do not want to see others succeed and change their life and it will fuel negative comments, negative attitudes and a community that make it very difficult to lose weight.

In anything you do it is extremely important to be surrounded with people that are going to support you, lift you up and encourage you during the good times and push you through the trials.

So do not associate yourself with a negative environment and run and hide from that as quickly as possible.  Get around good positive people that have your best interest at heart and genuinely want to see you succeed!

Probably one of the things you shouldn't do is set your goals too high.  I have found in my experience that people set unrealistic goals or goals they think will happen overnight.  This of course leads to frustation, disappointment and sometimes the end result is quitting.  Second thing is don't be too hard on yourself.  Nothing is ever perfect and you may have setbacks but these is our learning experience.  Three don't be afraid to ask for advice.  I have found that one of the experiences people don't reach their results is because they were afraid to ask or were just intimidated by the fitness professional at their gym.  These people are there for you and there to help you so ask away.  Lastly have fun with your new program.  Find these that will keep you entertain in  your workouts and motivated.  Bottom line is set short attainable goals, hold yourself committed to your plan and ask for help when need.
1.  Diet - restricting calories to unmangeably low levels or cutting out many food groups is not practical or sustainable. Artificially low calorie counts will give short term results, but as Brownell's work on "yo-yo dieting" has shown - such an approach to dieting often results in weight gain and greater difficulty in keeping it off in the future.
2.  Use diet pills or other formulations that use stimulant type substances to curb appetite. These medications and supplements can be harmful in the long term and are doing nothing to construct healthy sustainable weight loss and maintenance.
3.  Count too much on exercise. Exercise is critical to a healthy lifestyle - and that is what weight loss and maintenance are about - health. But even a VERY vigorous hour of exercise may only burn about 600-800 calories - that is what you would find in a restuarant tuna sandwich. Many people use exercise as permission to eat what they want. At the end of the day, there are 3500 calories in a pound - you want to lose a pound, you need to burn that many over time. Exercise is an essential part of a weight loss program, but it has to be balanced against a healthy diet.
4.  Make it only about food and exercise. Eating behaviors are behaviors.  And behaviors are driven by thoughts and emotions. We often forget to think about the psychological factors that underlie why and how we eat - whether by seeking the help of a psychologist, support groups, or even journaling - figuring out those factors can go a long way to understanding food patterns.
5.  Eat out too much. Restaurant portions tend to be too big and we have little control over how things are prepared. In addition, because we are paying for it, we are often more likely to feel like we have to eat it all or take it home. By eating at home - you can better control what and how much you eat as well as the ingredients used in the preparation.

Psychologically it's important to not get stuck in the numbers. This is not to suggest that you shouldn't have a long term weight loss goal but try and have a range, for example, 20-30lbs. Being stuck on one number can be challenging 1. because it may not be totally realistic for you based on a variety of factors and 2. it hard to keep your body at that one number all of the time which then sets you up for failure.


Have a long term goal but focus on the realistic, short term goals, for example, I want to lose 2-3lbs a week. Placing your focus on the moment gives your more control, you are more motivated as you are meeting short term goals and your successes build self esteem. Short term goals not only allow you to see successes but they allow you to make changes in areas where you feel you haven't been successful.


Try not to get stuck in the numbers and pay attention to how you are feeling. Afterall although you are trying to lose weight the endeavor is also about feeling better.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

In order to lose weight, these are some of the Commandments you should keep:

  • Thou Shalt Not Keep Fat Clothes in Your Closet. When you keep the clothes you wore at an unhealthy weight, it gives you a back-up plan if the pounds don't come off. Instead, force yourself to stay on track by 86ing your "fat pants."
  • Thou Shalt Not Graze. Plan your meal before you open the refrigerator, get what you need, and close the door. Opening it throughout the day leads to impulsive choices and overeating.
  • Thou Shalt Not Eat After 7:30pm. When you eat late at night you are more likely to be eating in front of the TV (when you won't pay attention to how much you're putting in your mouth) and you're more likely to pick high-calorie snacks.
  • Thou Shalt Not Pile Food More than 1 Inch High or Within 2 Inches of the Plate Edge. Larger portions equal more calories. 'Nuff said.
  • Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor's Plate. Spend your day nibbling bites on someone else's sandwich or afternoon snack, and you will add on 1,000 calories easy.
  • Thou Shalt Not Carry Small Bills. Nothing loves a small bill better than a vending machine. When you have them at the ready, you are one step closer to an impulsive, calorie-loaded afternoon slip up.  
  • Thou Shalt Not Eat While Standing Up. Eating sitting down enables you to be aware of what you're eating and eat it slowly so that your body can tell you you’re full before it's too late.


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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.