Losing weight is no child’s play. In fact, it can lead to detrimental habits that cause more harm to your body.

A study published in the journal Obesity found that it’s best to lose weight gradually. With rapid, forced weight loss, there is a high chance you are losing muscle, water and bone instead of fats. Basically, this means the body likes incremental changes in terms of diet and exercise.

This is especially true for people who go on crash diets to fast-track their weight loss. Diets that unnaturally restrict calories or the types of food allowed can open up a spectrum of health issues, including an increased possibility of weight rebound.

Implementing gradual changes in your diet and exercise may take more time. But you would also be likelier to derive sustainable results! That said: Here are five habits you should never adopt when you’re on a weight loss plan.


1. Sleeping irregularly

If you’re watching your weight, the amount of sleep you get may be just as important as your diet and exercise. In fact, studies have found that a lack of sleep can be a significant contributor to obesity.

For starters, people who lack sleep are more likely to be too tired throughout the day to exercise.

Sleep-deprived people are also likely to consume more calories throughout the day, since being awake for longer hours maximises opportunities for eating. It also upsets the balance between hormones that regulate our appetite. A study on 12 men found that when participants were allowed only four hours of sleep, they ate an average of 559 more calories the following day, compared to when they were allowed eight hours.

Singaporeans work some of the longest hours worldwide. If we’re not careful, this can eat into bedtime. To take care of your weight, start by taking care of your sleeping schedule!


2. Skipping meals

Contrary to popular belief, an effective diet does not mean eating less.

Depriving yourself of food has adverse effects on your metabolism, forcing your body to enter starvation mode. This is when your body is under the impression that food is limited. Instead of burning your calories, it becomes more eager to store them as fat.

To make matters worse, lowered energy levels also limits your ability to be physically active.

Always have your fill of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and midday bites in between. Instead of starving yourself, aim to make more nutritious food choices. Rather than opening up a bag of chips, snack on a 70-calorie banana. Replace half of your white rice with protein and fibre. Grilled chicken is always diet-friendly as long as you hold off the skin.

It’s about making sound decisions that accumulate over the course of your weight loss plan.


3. Extreme workout routines

Extreme workout routines like HIIT and CrossFit may make for entertaining YouTube videos. But in the real world, it can have painful consequences without proper guidance.

Engaging in an extreme workout can cause severe wear and tear, as well as increase the risk of injury and dehydration. Psychologically, it can turn exercise into punishment for binge-eating.

Singapore’s Health Promotion Board recommends engaging in at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week for best weight loss. This includes low-impact sports such as badminton and tennis, brisk walking and cycling. Here are some easy-to-implement activities you can try:

  • Doing household chores
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift or escalator
  • Parking the car further away from your destination and walking
  • Alighting the bus one or two stops before your destination and walking

Take a moderate approach to exercise, and you’re likelier to follow through over the long run.


4. Smoking

We all know that smoking has numerous health risks. There are also studies that reveal nicotine’s appetite suppressing qualities.

In a startling twist, this has actually encouraged some to use smoking as a weight loss strategy. Remember: Smoking damages nearly every part of the body, in addition to causing cancer, diabetes and various diseases of the respiratory and cardiovascular nature.

Beyond the health risks, smokers who try to quit the habit are often experience uncontrollable cravings for food. Bottom line: Don’t smoke for any reason, least of all to lose weight. You know it’s not worth it.


5. Drinking your calories

Sodas, coffees and alcohols are especially devious because we often underestimate how many calories a beverage can contain. You may be shocked at how fattening some of our favourite coolers are.

Even presumably nutritious fruit juices are loaded with sugar.

According to TIME magazine, whole fruits are more favourable to fruit juices: A whole orange contains 2.3g of dietary fibre and 9g of sugar, while a glass of orange juice has just 0.1g of dietary fibre and twice the amount of sugar!

The largest problem with sugary drinks is that the human body doesn’t register that it’s full even after consuming hundreds of calories. The next time you’re in need of a hydrating refreshment, opt for whole fruits or zero-calorie water instead.


Healthy takeaways

Finding an eating and exercise plan that you can follow through is the only guarantee that you will see visible, natural and long-term weight loss.

Most importantly, a weight loss plan is never one-size-fits-all. The mark of a successful weight loss plan isn’t necessarily one that’s fixated on calorie intake or number of hours spent on exercising, but one that can be integrated with your lifestyle in a healthy manner.

Have a dieting tip to share with us? Leave them in the comments below!