Despite the widespread awareness of obesity and the health complications associated with it, there is still a great deal of misinformation out there about the best way to lose weight. Over the decades, there have been countless ‘fad’ diets and workout regimes that have exploited people’s desperation to shed the kilos in a short amount of time.

The fitness and weight loss industry has exploded over the last decade with everyone rushing to buy their way to a healthier lifestyle. This has resulted in many products and services that are marketed as a healthy alternative but are actually far more likely to hinder your weight loss efforts.

On the whole, losing weight is about consuming fewer kilojoules than you burn throughout the day. There are many factors that can affect this process, most notably the hormones affecting your metabolism.

Contrary to popular belief, intense physical exercise only has a minor effect on weight loss when compared with a dramatic change in diet.

Let’s take a look at the top 5 mistakes people trying to lose weight tend to make.

1.     Fooled by ‘healthy’ snacks

For many people struggling to lose weight, snacking is one of the chief culprits behind their predicament. It can be incredibly hard to avoid snacking when there are so many sugary, bite-sized things surrounding us, especially when we’re out of the house.

Many people have, instead of cutting out snacking, opted to switch to so-called ‘healthy’ snacks like protein balls and muesli bars. While these options are obviously healthier than a caramel chocolate bar, they can still be quite high in sugar.

Rather than snacking, it’s better to simply eat larger but healthier meals at key times throughout the day. If you’re short on time and want something quick, there are plenty of simple and delicious meals you can cook in less than 30 minutes.

2.     Believing that ‘natural sweeteners’ are healthier

Recently, the negatives of sugar and high-sugar diets have caused people to look for alternative sweeteners. Many have made the switch to ‘natural sweeteners’ such as honey, believing them to be nutritionally healthier than traditional white sugar.

However, this is not the case. Adding honey to your porridge rather than regular sugar only changes the taste and nothing else. When it comes to kilojoules, there’s no difference between a natural sweetener and a processed one.

Sugar can be one of the hardest things to give up when losing weight. Like anything addictive, you can wean your way off sugar by slowly using less and less of it in your morning coffee or by switching to low-sugar alternatives.

3.     It isn’t healthy just because it has fruit in it

This may seem obvious, but a lot of people allow themselves to be tricked by the presence of fruit in otherwise unhealthy dishes. For example, strawberry and banana are great on their own, but when you add them to a cake all the good they do for you is overpowered by the added sugar.

Fruit drinks are also something you need to be careful around as the top brands will usually only have a small percentage of actual fruit in them along with a heap of added sugar. Smoothies are also a danger as they will often be combined with high-sugar yoghurt or ice-cream to give them their consistency.

Fruit is great for your body, but only when it’s consumed without unhealthy accompaniments. Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of thinking that an image of fruit on the packaging makes it a healthier option.

4.     Failing to limit alcohol consumption

When it comes to changing diet, a lot of people conveniently forget to think about their alcohol consumption. While it might not be fun to limit the amount of drinks you have on a night out, have you thought about the nutritional impact those drinks are having on your body?

There is a surprisingly high level of kilojoules in alcoholic beverages and most of us will tend to exceed the recommended two standard drinks. If drinking is a weekly occurrence for you, you may want to re-think your lifestyle habits if you want to take your weight loss journey seriously.

5.     Thinking that every salad is automatically healthy

Putting ‘salad’ in the title of a dish is a great way to lure in those seeking a healthy alternative. Unfortunately, many salads are deceptive in the amount of added kilojoules they have, especially when it comes to dressings used.

As with anything else, make sure you scrutinise the nutritional information of any salad before you start eating it.

The biggest mistake people make when it comes to losing weight is when they don’t understand the basic science behind how weight loss works. Without proper knowledge of what it takes to actually lose weight and adopt a healthy lifestyle, people are very easily lured off the path they have set for themselves.

Hopefully by acknowledging and avoiding the mistakes listed above you can enjoy better success with your weight loss efforts.