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3 Ways to Mess Up Your Weight Loss Plan

By Dina Griffin | Nov. 13, 2012, 12 a.m. (ET)

When you make the decision to pursue weight loss, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the multitudes of opinions and diet programs you hear and read in the mass media. While it is true each one of us has unique challenges in order to be successful in the short- and long-term, the list below outlines common nutrition mistakes triathletes make when starting a weight loss plan during the offseason and pre-season periods.

Slip-up #1: You think you are being “good” when you eat a small breakfast and avoid eating any morning snack.
Eating too little through the morning hours typically backfires especially if you are denying your hunger signs like that growling stomach and irritable mood. You can only ignore your hunger for so long and then the eyes become larger than the stomach. When this happens, your plan to be “good” is shot down, you eat more than you need and then you feel guilty. Think of giving yourself more fuel during the day when you are likely busier with work, family, exercise and other activities that require energy. You will be better satisfied and less prone to overeating if you start the day with a more hearty meal and learn to recognize and honor those biological hunger cues.

Slip-up #2: You eat breakfast, but it is a carbohydrate-heavy meal.
Good job for not skipping breakfast, but eating a breakfast such as a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast with a banana is not the best strategy for your weight loss goals. Even though the breakfast may be low in calories, it is significantly higher in carbohydrates than protein and fat. This leads to a blood sugar high and subsequent insulin spike which sets you up for the roller coaster of cravings and overeating as the day progresses.

You are better off to eat a more hearty meal that includes one or more fat sources, fiber from vegetables and fruits, and protein amounts in the range of 25-30 grams. This will help with blood sugar stabilization and meal satiety, both of which reduce cravings and keep your hunger levels in check. Meals such as vegetable omelets with avocado, smoothies made with protein powder and a fat (such as flaxmeal, nut butter, or coconut oil), or even leftovers from lunch or dinner the day before are options worth considering.

Slip-up #3: You focus on quantity over quality.

It can be quite helpful to keep a journal when you embark upon your weight loss journey, but what you log in your journal is key to long-term success. Athletes who put their emphasis on calorie counting are missing out on many other factors that shed light on weight loss progress.

Instead of getting consumed by the nutrition numbers game, you are better off to look at the quality of the meals and snacks you put together. Do they support stable blood sugar levels? Are you getting a variety of fiber sources and antioxidants? What type of fats do you eat? How long does the meal keep you full? Why are you eating this food? These are some of the questions that a calorie counter won’t answer, but they certainly can help or hinder weight loss.

Now that you have read these three common weight loss mistakes, take a closer look at what you are doing for your weight loss. When implemented properly, these tips will help you be successful as you prepare for your next season and also enable you to have long-term weight management success.

Dina Griffin, MS, RD, CSSD is a sport dietitian for Fuel4mance, a sports nutrition consulting company based in Colorado. She works with a diverse range of athletes, including those who have diabetes. Learn more about her at