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Weight Loss FAILS
Five ways to sabotage your diet.

Weight Loss FAILS
A cheat MEAL is fine. A cheat DAY... not so much.

There are lots of strategies people use to lose weight. However, some things SEEM healthy, but in fact, they can lead to weight gain. It's all about the details. Here are five weight loss plans that will backfire unless you follow the rules. 

Eating five or six small meals, throughout the day. Several studies show people who eat three small meals and two snacks a day lose weight. The constant access to food can help combat muscle loss and reduces binge cravings between meals.

The key is understanding the definition of a "small meal." When I shared that strategy with one of my clients, he happily increased his meal frequency. In a month he gained five pounds. I asked him to track his food and realized he wasn't eating three healthy-sized meals, he was eating his regular 800 calorie meals, plus two more 500 calorie snacks. He increased his food consumption by almost 1,000 calories a day.

Spacing your meals across the day is a very good plan, as long as your overall calories are low enough that you can still lose weight.

Drinking weight loss shakes. Slim-Fast had a great marketing campaign. "A shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch, then a sensible dinner." Perfectly easy to follow.

I'm guessing one of the reasons Slim-Fast did that was because there were people who would ADD a diet shake to their regular meal plan. Not only were those people eating their normal abundance of calories, but they were also drinking all the calories from the shakes.

Diet drinks can help some people lose weight, but you've got to consume them INSTEAD of all the extra calories you normally eat.

Following a low-carb diet. Cutting carbs can help people lose weight. There are two principal reasons why. First, carbohydrates cause muscle to retain water. Much of the weight loss that happens in the first 2-4 weeks is from water loss. The second reason is because many people often don't replace the missing carb calories with anything else.

Staying on a low-carb diet long-term can quite be challenging. Temptation and cravings kick in and before most people know it they're eating and drinking like before. All that water weight goes right back on and they're back to square one.

Instead of cutting all carbs the next time you start a diet, focus instead on specific carbs. Both sugar and fiber are carbohydrates. Increase your fiber, and decrease your daily sugar consumption.

Have a cheat meal once a week. Here's how it works. Start by lowering your calories so you'll lose weight. Make sure to continue doing resistance training exercises to hang onto the muscle. Then, once a week, give your metabolism a boost and knock out the hunger by eating more than usual for a single meal.

A cheat meal should consist of a larger than normal serving, preferably with higher carbohydrates which boost the leptin levels and lower your hunger. A cheat meal tends to kick up your metabolism so you start burning more calories again. That hormonal boost once a week, combined with regular exercise and dieting the rest of the week, increases your chance of weight loss success.

Notice I said cheat MEAL and not a cheat DAY. Too often people will use it as an excuse to pig out for the entire day, consuming all those extra calories they just spent the week getting rid of. Go crazy and it can turn into a full-fledged binge. Keep your cheating to a single meal, and limit excess calories to 500 or less.

Cut calories to lose weight. It's simple math. Eat less and you'll lose weight... to a point. Your body doesn't like to lose weight, it thinks you're starving. So if you cut calories too drastically, your metabolism slows down and the weight loss stops.

When you start a diet, cut the calories but make it gradual. At the same time, keep working on building muscle to keep your metabolism higher.

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beginning any diet or exercise program.