Top 10 diet mistakes and how to avoid them

Posted: Updated:
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey
By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- Many of us have been there. We try and try to lose that extra weight, taking a stab at just about every diet under the sun, but the weight just won't come off. Dr. Art Mollen says it could be because we're making some very common diet mistakes.

Those simple mistakes can derail your best weight-loss efforts. But on Tuesday's Good Morning Arizona, Dr. Art had some tips on how to avoid those top ten diet pitfalls.

1. Relying on crash or fad diets
Perhaps your plan calls for nothing but grapefruit or cabbage soup each day. You slash your daily calories to fewer than 1,000 and the pounds melt away. "But what those diets do is slow down your metabolism," Dr. Art explains. "So once you get off the diet, your metabolism is running at a much slower pace, so you'll quickly regain any of the pounds you lost."

2. Skipping Breakfast
Skipping breakfast seems like a simple way to cut calories, but the result can be insatiable hunger the rest of the day. This may lead to unplanned snacking, or eating a super-sized portion at lunch. "What they do is end up having open season on food at lunch or dinner, because they're starving," Dr. Art says. In fact, studies show people who eat breakfast every morning are more likely to maintain a healthy weight.

3. Losing Track of Your Snacks
Maybe you count calories meticulously at every meal, but what about all those nibbles in between?  If you're serious about counting calories, you may want to use a notebook to keep track of each bite.

4. Loading Up on Low-Fat
Low-fat products can play an important role in your diet. Just remember that low-fat isn't the same as low-calorie and it's not a license to take second and third helpings. "The body really does need fat," Dr. Art says, "It's satisfying, and it will reduce calories from other things you're eating."

5. Sipping Too Many Calories
When counting calories, many of us tend to overlook what's in our drinks. Fancy coffees and alcoholic beverages have more than 500 calories. Even the calories in fruit juice and soda can add up quickly. "Even Gatorade might have excess calories," says Dr. Art. "And if you drink alcohol, there's an enormous amount of calories in that."

6. Drinking Too Little Water
This is one of the simplest diet blunders to fix. Water is essential for burning calories. If you let yourself get dehydrated, your metabolism drags. Adults who drink extra water will burn more calories than those who drink less. "Eight to ten glasses of water a day will actually boost your metabolism, and you'll burn more calories," Dr. Art explains.

7. Ditching Dairy
Full-fat milk, cheese, and ice cream are taboo for many dieters, but ditching dairy foods may be counterproductive. Some research suggests the body burns more fat when it gets enough calcium and produces more fat when it's calcium-deprived.

8. Weighing Yourself Every Day
Weighing yourself daily is a recipe for frustration and doesn't yield useful information. If your goal is to lose one or two pounds a week, you'll be satisfied to see those full-pound drops when you step on the scale. The result is more motivating.

9. Setting Unrealistic Goals
Telling yourself you'll lose 20 pounds your first week is probably setting yourself up for failure. If you diet and lose five pounds in a week, a realistic goal is vital to successful dieting.

10. Avoiding Exercise
When you don't exercise, you place the entire burden of weight loss on your diet. If you become more active, you can eat more of the things you like and still lose weight. Find one you want to do on most days. "You have to incorporate at least 30 minutes of exercise each day," Dr. Art advises.