From ramping up the exercise to cutting back on calories for a diet, many of us think we’re ticking all the boxes for successful weight loss.
But often we don’t see any of the returns for our efforts, despite leading a healthy lifestyle.
Experts say that some “healthy” habits could actually be preventing us from kicking those stubborn pounds. So while you may be slaving away at the gym or restricting yourself on certain foods, you might not need to.
In fact, in some cases they might be causing you to put weight on – and that’s not what you want.
Here are some of the things to swerve if you really want to shift some weight…
It’s no secret that eating sugar can lead to weight gain. So while you might be happy to ditch the sweet stuff for an artificial alternative, experts say don’t.
While slim-lining to a Diet Coke rather than the full-fat version might contain no calories, it could leave you hungrier afterwards.
Scientists at Massachusetts General Hospital found the drink’s sweetener – aspartame – actually increases the risk of piling on the pounds.
According to their report published online in Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism, this is because the sugar substitute’s breakdown product, phenylalanine, disrupts the metabolic rate and consequently ups the chances of weight gain.
In more bad news, scientists revealed that drinking two or more artificially-sweetened drinks a day ‘increases the risk of dying young from stroke and heart attack’.
Working out every day is bound to make you lose weight. Wrong.
Experts say that in order to see the benefits of exercising you actually need to take a break.
It’s important to give your body the time to recover in between sessions – otherwise you could actually end up putting weight on.
Pushing yourself could also increase your risk of injury and cause problems for any long-term progress.
“Over-training is very common, both in sports and on the gym scene,” PT Harry Thomas, owner at No1 Fitness, told The Sun. “They are now showing that a lack of rest and recovery is why many premiership players are getting injured.
“That’s why many teams in recent years have introduced full recovery sessions into their programmes.”
But it’s not just injury you should be wary of – it’s also fat accumulation. It’s all down to the production of cortisol – the stress hormone.
Laurence Fountain is the founder of Salus London and specialises in body transformations by way of re-balancing stress.
“Cortisol is going to interfere with different hormonal effects,” he told us.
“Firstly, it’s going to interfere with your thyroid – meaning it’s going to be very hard to burn fat when your cortisol is high. In fact, you’re going to be more likely to burn muscle.
“Too much cortisol can also lead to an overstimulation of the brain during sleep causing an increase of ghrelin – the hunger hormone, which is going to make it impossible for you to control your appetite and stay away from simple sugars and high-fat foods.
“And when ghrelin high, leptin is going to be low so it’s going to stop you from feeling satisfied.”
Buying ‘healthy’ lunches
Grabbing a salad or a smoothie on your lunch break may seem like the right option.
But not all of the options on the high street are necessarily as “healthy” as they might seem. They often contain hidden ingredients that you don’t need.
To make matters worse, scientists say they can leave you feeling hungrier – and looking for food to fill the gap.
A Yale University study found that ordering dishes that your brain deems healthy releases more of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which can increase appetite and slow down metabolism.
Too much sleep
We all know the importance of getting a good night’s kip. It can support gut health, boost immunity and improve mental health, not to mention be great for your overall wellbeing.
But researchers say that it is possible to get too much.
Sleeping for more than eight hours a night could make you more likely to put on belly fat – that’s according to researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
Excess fat around the stomach is associated with symptoms of diabetes and heart disease. They say that the optimal amount of sleep to aim for is between six and eight hours a night.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.