Weight loss tips are everywhere. With blogs, articles, research, YouTube videos and multiple Instagram accounts, we always have weight loss advice close at hand. However, some of this advice can be toxic and harmful to our health.
There are many people sharing weight loss advice that can actually damage our health over time and lead to unhealthy aging. To learn more about which advice to avoid, we spoke to some expert dietitians. Here’s what they have to say about weight loss tips that actually age your body, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 22 Tips to Lose Belly Fat Without Dieting.
Counting calories can be helpful for some, but it’s more important to make sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet.
“One of the more harmful behaviors I see in the nutrition field is people who count their calories with a large portion of their food still processed and of low quality, without enough omega-3 fatty acids, unsaturated fats and fibrous meals packed with the necessary nutrients will not only facilitate the weight loss process but also support longevity,” says registered dietitian Whitney Stuart, MS, RDN, CDE.
While you may think that calories are all that matters, if you’re not getting enough protein, you’re most likely setting yourself up for failure. Not only that, but it can also affect your aging process.
“A big weight loss mistake [that ages] you are faster to just focus on creating a calorie deficit without paying attention to the composition of those calories. It is essential to consume higher levels of protein when losing weight in an effort to preserve more lean body mass,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RDNregistered dietitian, founder of Nutrition Starring YOU, and author of The Everything Easy Pre-Diabetes Cookbook.
“You lose fat and muscle when you diet, and less muscle will decrease your metabolism and strength, as well as potentially cause bone loss. Aim for at least 25-30 grams of protein per meal with moderate amounts of whole grains and higher fiber plant foods, as well as heart-healthy fats for the best outcome which is probably also more sustainable,” says Harris-Pincus.
Meal replacements can not only be harmful to sustainable weight loss, but also to your overall health.
“While meal replacement products such as shakes or bars can be useful for an occasional low-calorie meal or snack on the go, many of these products are highly processed and contain added sugars. Eating highly processed foods on a regular basis is linked to multiple chronic diseases, and too much sugar can also contribute to the development of chronic diseases and accelerate the aging process by forming advanced glycation end products (AGEs),” says Sara Chatfield, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian at Health Canal.
Diets like the Atkins diet and the Keto diet have made it seem like carbs are the enemy. However, this is simply not true.
“While avoiding added sugars and refined carbohydrates is helpful for weight loss, cutting out complex carbohydrates such as fresh fruit, starchy vegetables and whole grains can derail weight loss efforts and may even contribute to premature aging as these foods are valuable sources of fiber and other vital nutrients. High fiber intake has been linked to satiety at meals and successful weight loss, as well as reduced markers of aging,” says Chatfield.
You don’t have to avoid fat to lose weight. In fact, your body needs healthy fats to survive.
“While fat calories are higher (1 gram of fat = 9 calories) compared to carbohydrates or protein (1 gram of carbohydrates or protein = 4 calories), we need some fat for our overall health and well-being. Heart-healthy fats like those found in nuts, seeds, avocado, extra olive oil, or salmon provide benefits for heart health, brain health, and also add flavor and satisfaction to meals,” says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, a registered dietitian and author of My Indian Table: Quick and Tasty Vegetarian Recipes.