The Worst Habits for Losing Weight

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A woman with wide eyes takes a big bite from a wrapped sandwich, with two "X" marks on either side of her, against a pink background.

Look, if you want to lose weight, then the first and foremost thing that you have to do is improve your habits. 

Habits are known as automatic behaviors which are so ingrained in our minds that we just do them automatically. 

But to lose weight, you need to make a conscious effort with everything you do, and you cannot let these unconscious habits hold you back from achieving your weight loss goals. 

Let me show you which habits I am referring to.

1. Using Exercise as a Way to Compensate For Eating Junk

Many people have this misconception that if they eat or drink something that is full of sugar and calories, they can later make up for it by cycling, jogging, walking, etc., and burn off whatever calories they have consumed. 

The idea that you can eat unhealthy food and then simply exercise to ‘burn off’ the calories is a common misunderstanding. Here’s why this approach doesn’t work effectively:

When you consume junk food, which is often high in sugar and calories, it can have immediate and long-term effects on your body. 

These foods can cause spikes in blood sugar levels, leading to a cycle of energy highs and crashes, and can also contribute to the development of chronic health issues like diabetes and heart disease over time. 

While exercise does burn calories, it’s not just about the numbers. The quality of the calories you consume matters a lot.

Healthy eating provides your body with nutrients and energy it needs to function well. 

Junk food, on the other hand, offers little nutritional value and can lead to weight gain and health problems, even if you’re active. 

Moreover, it’s tough to create a significant calorie deficit through exercise alone. 

For example, you might consume a chocolate bar that contains 500 calories in just a few minutes, but it could take an hour of intense exercise to burn that same amount.

Additionally, relying on exercise to compensate for poor dietary choices can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food and exercise. 

It might cause you to view exercise as a punishment for eating, which is not a sustainable or healthy mindset. 

Instead, it’s important to focus on a balanced approach that includes both nutritious eating and regular physical activity. 

This combination is key to maintaining a healthy weight and overall well-being. 

Remember, while exercise is a fantastic way to support your health, it’s not a license to eat poorly without consequences.

2. Using Fasting as a Way to Compensate For Eating Junk

Now don’t get me wrong, fasting when done correctly can be an excellent way to lose weight in the long run.

A lifestyle like intermittent fasting can indeed help you lose weight in a healthy way.

But the problem is when you use fasting as a justification to eat whatever you want. 

For example, I have often encountered people who go on a binge fest where they eat and drink whatever they want, for the whole day, or the whole week (if it’s a vacation) then they go on a long fast, this fast can be for 16, 24, or even 48 hours with hopes to undo all the processed and sugary foods they consumed.

The problem with this habit is that fasting does not erase the negative effects of junk food. 

While it may reduce your overall calorie intake, it doesn’t address the core issue: the quality of the food you’re eating. 

Plus, this kind of yo-yo dieting—swinging from overindulgence to severe restriction—can be harmful to your mental and physical health. 

It can slow down your metabolism, making it harder to lose weight in the long run.

It can also lead to an unhealthy relationship with food, where eating becomes associated with guilt and fasting with punishment.

Instead of trying to compensate for poor food choices with fasting, it’s better to focus on eating a variety of healthy foods that provide the nutrients your body needs. 

Regular, balanced meals and snacks can help you maintain a healthy weight and reduce the temptation to eat junk food in the first place.

Also Read: Is Intermittent Fasting Good For Weight Loss?

3. Inconsistent Sleep Timings

If you are someone who sometimes sleeps at the right time and on other days stays up late, then has to wake up early for work, this habit could potentially hinder your weight loss goals.

When you don’t get enough sleep, your body undergoes a series of changes that can make losing weight more difficult. 

First, a lack of sleep can mess with the hormones that control hunger and appetite. 

Specifically, it can increase levels of ghrelin, the hormone that makes you feel hungry, and decrease levels of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. 

This means you’re more likely to feel hungry and less likely to feel satisfied after eating, which can lead to overeating.

Moreover, when you’re tired, you might not have the energy to make healthy food choices or to exercise, which are both crucial for weight loss. 

You might find yourself reaching for sugary snacks for a quick energy boost or skipping the gym because you’re too exhausted.

Additionally, poor sleep can slow down your metabolism, the process by which your body converts food into energy. 

This means your body might not be as efficient at burning calories, which can hinder weight loss. 

Another point is that when you’re sleep-deprived, your body produces more cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to fat storage, especially around the midsection.

And if that wasn’t enough, research has shown that when people don’t get enough sleep, they tend to eat larger portions of all foods, which can contribute to weight gain.

Also Read: Best Sleeping Positions For Weight Loss

4. Eating at Inconsistent Times

Your body needs a routine to follow to maintain proper homeostasis. For example, let’s say you are in the habit of having your breakfast at 8 am and having your lunch at 1 pm. 

Come 1 pm, your body will be hungry; it will have prepared stomach acid, and some insulin could also be released in anticipation of food coming in just like every day.

But if you eat at random times, more so wherever you feel like it or whenever you have time because you have a busy lifestyle, this can confuse the body as to when to release the hunger hormones. 

Your appetite could fluctuate from being super hungry to not being hungry even if you haven’t eaten in a while. 

So, whatever schedule you follow, it has to be consistent throughout the week. 

One or two days on the weekend can be different, but in general, your body needs a routine to follow to maintain your hunger levels and overall appetite.

Also Read: Does Meal Timing Matter For Weight Loss?

5. Not Exercising at all

Not exercising at all can be a major obstacle to losing weight. Exercise plays a crucial role in burning calories and boosting your metabolism, which helps you lose weight more effectively.

When you don’t exercise, your body doesn’t burn as many calories, so it’s harder to create the calorie deficit needed for weight loss.

Additionally, exercise helps build muscle, and having more muscle increases your resting metabolic rate, meaning you burn more calories even when you’re not active.

Without exercise, you might lose weight more slowly, and the weight you do lose might come from muscle instead of fat, which isn’t ideal.

Regular physical activity also improves your overall health, enhances your mood, and gives you more energy, making it easier to stick to a healthy lifestyle.

So, incorporating exercise into your routine is essential for achieving and maintaining weight loss.

Also Read: What Not To Do When Exercising For Weight Loss

6. Having Unrealistic Expectations

Having unrealistic expectations when trying to lose weight is like aiming to climb a mountain in a day when you’ve never hiked before—it sets you up for disappointment and can actually hinder your progress. Here’s why it’s not a good idea:

When you set goals that are too high or expect to lose weight too quickly, you’re not giving yourself a fair chance. Weight loss is a gradual process, and your body needs time to adjust to changes in diet and exercise. 

If you expect to drop a lot of weight in a short time, you might resort to extreme diets or intense exercise routines that are hard to maintain. 

This can lead to burnout, and you might give up altogether when you don’t see the results you hoped for.

Also, when you have unrealistic expectations, you might not notice the small successes because you’re too focused on a big goal that’s out of reach. 

Losing weight takes patience and consistency, and small, steady changes are more sustainable and healthier in the long run.

If you set more realistic goals, you’re more likely to stick with your plan and see real results over time.

Also Read: How Much Weight Loss is Good For You?

7. Eating When You Are Emotional

When you’re feeling down, stressed, or even bored, it’s easy to turn to food for comfort. You might reach for snacks like chips or cookies without really being hungry. 

This kind of eating is based on feelings, not actual hunger, and it can lead to eating too much, especially the high-calorie, sweet, and fatty foods that make you feel good in the moment. 

But the comfort is temporary, and soon after, you might feel guilty or sad for overeating, which can lead to more emotional eating, creating a tough cycle to break.

Emotional eating can sabotage your weight loss efforts because it often leads to consuming more calories than your body needs. 

It’s like putting more fuel in your car than it can use—the excess just turns into unwanted baggage. 

And when you eat based on emotions rather than hunger, you’re not giving your body the chance to burn off those extra calories, which can lead to weight gain instead of weight loss.

8. Not Tracking Your Calorie Intake

Not having at least a general idea of how many calories you are consuming can make weight loss much more difficult. 

Calories are the energy your body gets from food, and to lose weight, you need to consume fewer calories than you burn. 

If you don’t know how many calories you’re eating, it’s easy to eat too much without realizing it, which means you’re not creating the calorie deficit needed for weight loss. 

Many foods, especially those that are processed or high in fat and sugar, are very calorie-dense, so even small amounts can add up quickly. 

By having a rough idea of your calorie intake, you can make more informed choices about what and how much to eat. 

This awareness helps you avoid overeating and stay on track with your weight loss goals. 

Additionally, tracking calories can help you identify patterns or habits that might be hindering your progress, such as frequent snacking or consuming high-calorie beverages. 

In short, knowing your calorie intake is a key part of successful weight loss because it helps you manage your diet more effectively and make healthier choices.

Also Read: The Biggest Mistake People Make When Counting Calories For Weight Loss

9. Relying on Fad and Detox Diets

Fad diets often promise fast results with little effort. They might tell you to eat only certain types of food or to drink special juices that ‘detox’ your body. 

But the truth is, your body is already equipped with organs like the liver and kidneys that do a great job of getting rid of toxins. You don’t need a special diet to detox your body.

These diets can also be really restrictive, which means you might not get all the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. 

Your body needs a balance of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, and minerals to work properly. 

If you only eat certain foods, you might miss out on important nutrients, which can make you feel tired or sick.

Plus, fad diets are hard to stick to for a long time.

They might work at first, but as soon as you go back to eating normally, you’re likely to gain back any weight you lost—and sometimes even more. 

It’s like holding your breath to get through a tunnel; as soon as you’re out, you’re going to breathe even more deeply. Your body does the same with food after a restrictive diet.

If you want to know in detail why detox diets don’t work, I recommend check this article from Business Insider.


Losing weight is a marathon that requires you to develop good habits to achieve your goals.

If you catch yourself engaging in any of the bad habits I’ve mentioned, make a conscious effort to replace them with healthier ones today.

Weight loss isn’t inherently complicated, but it can be made so by adopting methods that seem correct yet aren’t.

The right approach is to follow the science. Preferably, consult with a doctor or a nutritionist to guide you along the way.

This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a commission for purchases made through links at no extra cost to you. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Rahul is a professional nutritionist certified by the International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) and a personal trainer certified through the American Council of Exercise (ACE). He has a special interest in the science of nutrition and how it can impact the body.

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