10 missteps that prevent us from losing weight

When the scale does not take off despite efforts, there is a lizard somewhere. Reducing quantities without taking into account quality, restricting yourself too much, snacking... identify the error that is slowing down your weight loss and, thanks to the appropriate solutions, give momentum to your weight loss.

Can't control your weight? Or to lose the desired weight? Favor balanced consumption, allow deviations and set realistic goals.

Brake n°1: restricting yourself too much

Rigidly depriving yourself, demonizing certain foods, generates hunger and/or frustration conducive to impulses and rapid weight regain. Dr Jacques Fricker, nutritionist.

On the other hand, reducing your intake too much, particularly protein, promotes a reduction in muscle mass , and therefore in basic metabolism . Finally, “the body adapts by putting itself on a sub-diet”, underlines Raphaël Gruman, dietician-nutritionist.

The solutions

  • Maintain sufficient energy intake. “More than 1,500 kcal per day,” estimates Raphaël Gruman. Weight loss will be slower, but safer and without harm”;
  • Rehabilitate fats and starchy foods : they do not make you gain weight - because they fill you up - when they are well chosen and controlled: 1 tbsp. to s. rapeseed, nut and olive oils at each meal and starchy foods with a moderate glycemic index (GI) (whole grains, legumes , etc.) at 1 or 2 meals per day;
  • Demonize. “Studies show that rigid categorization of foods is counterproductive,” explains Florian Saffer, dietitian specializing in behavioral psychology. It’s better to be flexible and adjust the frequency, quantity and extras”;
  • Allow yourself for deviations.  You have to know how to treat yourself - at least once a week - and take the drama down;
  • Adopt a good mindset.  “Be careful not to confuse will, which works in the short term, and motivation, which is committed in the long term,” continues Florian Saffer. “You have to set realistic goals.”

Obstacle No. 2: reduce quantities without taking quality into account

Eating less of everything makes you lose weight, but can lead to nutrient deficits and cravings .

For satiety, it is better to rely on the principle of energy density, advises Raphaël Gruman, dietitian-nutritionist. That is to say the caloric value of a food for a given volume. 

The solutions

  • Consume vegetables as desired. Bulky, but low in calories, and rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals, they fill the stomach. To be taken with each meal as a starter and main course, at least half of the plate. Plus 2-3 fruits per day;
  • Ensure good protein intake . “By favoring lean meats, poultry, fish and eggs, the best sources,” continues the dietician. We eat it for lunch and dinner, or even for breakfast (slice of ham, egg, etc.) and supplement it with natural dairy products and legumes. Objective: 1 g per kilo of body weight per day (60 g/day if you weigh 60 kg);
  • Moderate fatty foods and added fats. 1 C. to s. of oil or equivalent per meal, plain semi-skimmed dairy products, 30 g of cheese maximum and 30 g of oilseeds per day. Fried foods, cold meats, fatty meats and pastries should be reserved for special occasions! ;
  • Control starchy foods. 4-5 tbsp. to s. pasta, whole grain rice or legumes, for lunch or dinner.

Obstacle No. 3: use it “with a ladle”

Controlling the portions of foods rich in lipids and/or carbohydrates is essential. However, it is difficult to quantify the right quantity by eye , and the drizzle of oil can quickly exceed the spoonful.

The solutions

  • Weigh the food for a few days. “This step is important to realize what a quantity represents visually,” recommends Dr. Fricker;
  • Adopt visual cues. By measuring the capacity of certain containers in your kitchen (bowl, tablespoon, cup, plate, etc.). Initially, you can also use commercially available individual portions (cheese, dairy products, butter, etc.);
  • Know the equivalences: 

  1. 100 g of cooked starchy foods  = 30 to 35 g of raw starchy foods = 3 or 4 tbsp. to s. rice, pasta, semolina, dried vegetables = 2 potatoes the size of an egg;
  2. 30 g of cheese  = 1/8 of Camembert = 2 fingers of Emmental, Comté...;
  3. 50 g of bread  = 1/5 of a baguette = 35 g of wheat petals;
  4. 10 g of oil  = 1 tbsp. to s. oil = 12.5 g of butter or margarine (2 hazelnuts) = 30 g of crème fraîche with 30% fat;
  5. 1 fruit  = 1 apple = 2 kiwis = 2 tangerines = 1 pear = 1 pomelo = 1 orange = 4 plums = 1 small banana = 1/4 pineapple;
  6. 120 to 130 g of meat  = 120 to 130 g of fish = 1 palm of a hand.

Obstacle No. 4: frequent use of processed products

These products are often fattier and sweeter than homemade. And because of the different additives (syrups, salt, etc.), their textures (crispy, soft, etc.) and their flavors make them addictive. Very refined and low in plants, therefore in fiber, they are quickly digested and do not fill you up. Dr. Fricker

The solutions

  • Practice assembly cooking. So combine meat, fish, eggs or vegetable equivalents, starchy foods and vegetables, using frozen foods and plain canned foods. Then season with oil, herbs and spices . “For desserts, you can add a spoonful of honey or a piece of fresh fruit to a plain dairy product,” says the doctor;
  • Reserve the processed for troubleshooting. In this case, we choose products which indicate at the top of the list of ingredients quality foods, a Nutri-Score A or B and, for prepared meals, a protein/lipid ratio greater than 1. And we balance with raw vegetables, fruit, etc.;
  • Get started with batch cooking .  “That means establishing a plan for the week's menus on the weekend, doing the shopping accordingly and preparing the dishes in advance,” explains Raphaël Gruman.

Obstacle No. 5: going out or receiving often

Too frequent outings and festive meals constitute a major obstacle to weight loss : we increase our calorie intake, because it is difficult to control the contents of our plate, and we eat larger quantities and richer dishes.

The solutions

  • Receive rather than be received.  “When we are at home, we can offer a menu compatible with a diet,” notes Dr. Fricker. “It is enough to offer light recipes and present the different elements of the meal (meat or fish, sauce, starchy foods, vegetables, etc.) separately.” For an aperitif , there are raw vegetables to eat in addition to the salty biscuits, and for dessert a fruit salad in addition to the cake;
  • Juggle with proportions (and portions). We favor vegetables and sources of protein, we limit fatty, starchy foods and sugary products;
  • Say no to accumulation. The nutritionist recommends “treating yourself to a dish (starter, main course or dessert) during the meal, and keeping the rest light, or even making a single dish or reduced formula”;
  • Pay attention to the side effects.  “So bread and butter, sweets, sauces, appetizers…” explains Raphaël Gruman. We also skip the cheese platter and limit ourselves to 1-2 glasses of wine;
  • Compensate for. No question of lightening the previous meal and being hungry. We reduce fats and starchy foods to those who follow, and we adapt the quantities according to our appetite.

Obstacle No. 6: demonizing fats

Good fat is necessary for many functions in the body (brain, skin, hormones, etc.). It also promotes satiety and slows the assimilation of accompanying carbohydrates. Raphael Gruman

The solutions

  • Favor good fats.  Namely rapeseed, olive and nut oils for cooking and seasoning (1 tbsp per meal), and oilseeds (30 g max/day), avocado (up to 3 per week, no more than 1/2 per day), fatty bran fish (1 to 2 times per week). We limit butter (10 g for breakfast) and cheese (30 g/day) and reserve fatty meats, cold meats, fried foods, etc. for special occasions;
  • Avoid light foods. “0% does not bring the same satiety or the same pleasure,” explains the dietitian. “It’s better to consume the real thing, but less and/or less often.” For dairy products, we favor semi-skimmed or 3.2% fat;
  • Reduce foods high in carbohydrates . Eating too much or with a high GI (refined cereals, sugar) promotes their storage in the form of fat. “It is important to reserve sweet products for occasions, to limit the quantities of starchy foods (4-5 tablespoons at lunch or dinner) and to favor those with a moderate GI (whole grains, dried vegetables, etc.). ),” advises Dr. Fricker.

Barrier #7: snacking regularly

When we snack, we eat without hunger and without end. In addition, eating in an uncontrolled manner exposes you to a possible nutritional imbalance and disrupts digestion and the secretion of insulin, a storage hormone. Dr. Fricker

The solutions

  • Restructure the day. Have 2-3 meals at set times, and snacks if necessary. “It is important for the digestive system to have a rhythm,” analyzes Raphaël Gruman. You must leave three to four hours between food intakes”;
  • Take care of each food intake. At each meal, we sit down for at least twenty minutes and chew, being fully involved in what we are doing. “Satiety requires an effort of conscience,” insists Florian Saffer. “Every food intake must be a quality time”;
  • Balance your plate.  For two of the main food intakes, we make sure to have vegetables and animal or vegetable proteins, possibly accompanied by whole-grain starchy foods or bread , and a little fat. If you have opted for a salad or a sandwich , you adopt the same rule to compose your salad, and you accompany your sandwich (with wholemeal bread, cereals, etc.) with raw vegetables;
  • Anticipate and intelligently compose your snacks.  A fresh fruit or raw vegetables (radish, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, etc.) + 1 plain dairy product or 10 almonds or a slice of defatted, de-rinded white ham + an infusion or coffee - or decaf - or still water or sparkling.

Obstacle No. 8: neglecting physical activity

Moving burns calories. This also develops and maintains muscle mass, therefore contributing to a good basic metabolism: we burn calories during activity and at rest. Raphael Gruman

Furthermore, “by leading to the production of neurotransmitters that relax, physical exercise reduces impulses and hunger,” adds Dr. Fricker.

The solutions

  • Walk every day. Or cycle, climb stairs, etc. This allows you to integrate physical activity into your days without disrupting your schedule too much;
  • Establish 2 or 3 sports sessions per week. “By alternating endurance activity (running, brisk walking, swimming, etc.) to burn calories, and strengthening (gym, pilates weight training, etc.) to develop muscle mass,” advises Raphaël Gruman;
  • Pay attention to the context. To stay motivated over time, we identify the slot that best fits into our schedule and we try to get support;
  • Adapt the contents of your plate. At the meal following sport, we prevent a rebound in appetite by enriching our plate with fiber, that is to say, vegetables and possibly whole grains, and proteins (meat, fish, eggs, dairy products).

Brake n°9: make a separate plate

This can help for a while, but it is ultimately desocializing and promotes frustration, and therefore breakdowns.

The solutions

  • Adopt a common rhythm.  If your partner wants a hearty dinner because he had lunch on the go, the best thing is to have a light lunch too, so that you can share an elaborate evening meal. If, on the contrary, your partner has lunch at a restaurant and is content with little in the evening, you should also have lunch and/or have a snack in the afternoon for a light dinner;
  • Cook and present each food family separately. And with little fat. “Thus, we have the choice and control of the proportions (more vegetables, less starchy foods and sauce),” says Dr. Fricker;
  • Lighten the preparations.  Shepherd's pie, pizza, lasagna, chocolate mousse. .. Many recipes make it possible to make a dish lighter (in carbohydrates and fats) and healthier. We pay attention to the ingredients and especially the quantities;
  • Supplement your ration with fruits and vegetables .  “For the success of a regime, it is better to be inclusive than exclusive,” believes Florian Saffer. This means adding rather than taking away: take a little pizza and top it off with salad, for example.”

Obstacle No. 10: follow a “without” diet

Gluten-free , lactose-free... If, at the beginning, we sometimes observe weight loss, these menus can tend to slow it down in the long term by exposing us to nutritional deficits (protein, calcium, etc.) or by pushing us to consume lower quality products.

The solutions

  • Reduce, not ban. “In the absence of a proven allergy or intolerance, everyone can consume a certain quantity of the incriminated foods,” explains Dr Jacques Fricker. We need to modulate the quantities”;
  • Choose the right alternatives. Natural, as much as possible: sheep or goat's milk rather than cow's, a combination of dried vegetables and whole grains or soy to replace meat, quinoa, buckwheat. .. as a substitute for wheat and other sources of gluten.