5 Weight Loss Sins and How to Avoid Them

Everybody thinks they know what’s best for weight loss.

Salads help you lose weight. Natural foods make you skinny. Diets are the way to weight loss.

You’ll be surprised to hear that these statements aren’t always true. Salads can be fattening. Natural foods can be unhealthy. Diets can make you gain weight.

You think this is crazy. It contradicts everything that we know. But stick with me. You’ll learn how everything that you’ve been taught about weight loss isn’t black and white as it seems.

Below are five weight loss sins you don’t realize you’re committing.

Your low fat diet isn’t low fat

Do you know how many calories are in olive oil?

Eating a low fat diet is important for weight loss. It helped me lose more than 70 pounds. It also helps me maintain my weight.

But sometimes it can be confusing to know what low fat really is.

Consider a salad. A salad is a health food, right?  It has very few calories. And of the few calories it does have, only a small percentage comes from fat. I’d classify it as a low fat food.

The problem happens when you add the dressing.

People think olive oil is a healthy salad dressing. It isn’t. Olive oil has 120 calories per tablespoon and contains almost no nutrition. The oil is empty calories.

On top of being empty calories, it completely changes the percentage of fat in the salad. A salad would usually be 10-15% fat. But a dressing of olive oil adds 120 calories of pure fat to the salad. Now more than 50% of calories are fat calories.

A healthy salad is transformed into a high fat food with just one tablespoon of oil.

How to avoid this mistake:

You need to avoid accidentally eating high fat foods. There are two ways you achieve this:

  1. Read nutrition labels
  2. Stop adding oil to your food

Reading nutrition labels is essential for health and weight loss. When you pick up a packaged item at the grocery store, estimate the percentage of calories that come from fat. Do this by dividing the number of calories that come from fat per serving by the total calories per serving.

To lose weight, avoid buying lots of food with more than 20% fat. The lower in fat you go, the more weight you’ll lose.  Following an ultra-low fat (10% or less) diet will make you lose weight even faster.

Instead of oil, try these low fat oil replacements:

  • Learn how to caramelize onions without oil
  • Learn how to cook with vinegar
  • Replace oil in recipes with high-carb alternatives like puréed legumes, applesauce, mashed bananas or aquafaba. Choose the replacement that best fits the recipe.

Adding “natural” sugar to your food


Whether sugar is “natural” or not, you don’t want to be artificially adding it to your food.

Like oil, sugar ends up being empty calories that cause weight gain. Even if they’re natural.

Sugar is sugar, and that’s the only way your body recognizes it.

Some people believe that “natural” sweeteners are better than ones that aren’t. Don’t get caught in the natural trap. Maple syrup, coconut sugar, rice malt syrup, honey and other “natural” sweeteners are still added refined sugar.

The natural argument is a way we make ourselves feel better when we eat refined sugar. In reality, it’s no better than white sugar.

Refined sugars are unsatisfying empty calories. Too many empty calories cause weight gain.

How to avoid this mistake

A dash of sugar from time to time isn’t the end of the world. But don’t add it to your food and drinks on a regular basis.

Instead of adding refined sugar to your food, try adding whole food sugar.

I prefer to use blended dates in my recipes. Dates are sweet like sugar. Remember they also contain fiber, water, vitamins and minerals.

Maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar? No fiber and few vitamins or minerals.

If you don’t have dates, you can add other types of fruit such as mashed bananas or applesauce.

If fruit doesn’t work with your recipe, a moderate amount of artificial sweetener is also an option.

I prefer Splenda as my zero-calorie sweetener. It’s recognized as safe by the USDA. It doesn’t have any known negative side effects in reasonable doses either. Erythritol and stevia are also safe.

I avoid aspartame and saccharin. Aspartame is associated with headaches, mood disorders and seizures. Saccharin can have a laxative effect.

Fad dieting and yo-yo dieting

yo-yo dieting

Raise your hand if you’ve been on a diet.

45 million Americans diet every year. And guess what? Our obesity rates keep climbing. 68% of Americans are overweight and 35% are obese.

This whole “dieting” thing isn’t working for us.

We need to stop following the latest diet to lose 5 pounds in a week. Many people gain the weight back anyways. In fact, up to two-thirds of people gain more weight back than they lost in the first place.

How to avoid this mistake

Stop following the latest fad diet. Instead, we need to change our lifestyle.

The word diet can be confusing. Diet can mean a short-term dietary change to lose weight quickly. These types of diets are unsustainable and don’t help.

Diet can also be the food that a person (or species) generally eats. You don’t have to be on a diet to have a diet. Every living thing has a diet, i.e. a panda’s diet consists of bamboo.

Instead of going on a diet, we need to change our diet. For good. No more crazy Cabbage Soup DietsCookie Diets or Baby Food Diets.

It may be scary to make a change you believe will last the rest of your life. But if you want weight loss that lasts a lifetime, you need a lifestyle for a lifetime.

I recommend a high-carbohydrate, low fat plant-based diet. It’s what I’ve been eating for more than 3 years and I love how I look and feel.



Detoxing is like fad dieting. It’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem.

Detoxing for a week is like doing a carpet deep-clean once a year instead of vacuuming every week. Sure, it gets the job done and makes your carpet look better. But your carpet is dirty the other 11 months of the year.

Your diet shouldn’t be making you sick. If the food you’re eating makes you ill, there’s something wrong with what you’re eating. Detoxes are not a replacement for a healthy diet.

How to avoid this mistake

Stop detoxing and start eating healthfully.

I have never done a detox and I don’t plan on ever doing one. If your diet causes you to feel poorly, change it. Stop putting a band aid on your problem.

Being afraid of food


Some people think the key to being healthy, lean and beautiful is starvation. It’s not.

Dieting, calorie counting and food restriction work in the short term. But not in the long term.

When you stop dieting and go back to eating the same food that made you fat in the first place, you regain the weight.

And remember: most people regain the weight back, plus more.

How to avoid this mistake

Don’t be afraid of all food. Be wary of processed and fatty junk foods.

Can sugar be bad? Yes. Can gluten be bad? Yes. But they don’t have to be.

Unhealthy foods can have sugar and gluten. Doughnuts are full of fat, refined wheat and refined sugar and gluten. Eating too many doughnuts can make you fat.

Whole, healthy, plant foods can have sugar and gluten, too.  Yet eating a sweet banana or a hearty piece of wholegrain bread won’t cause you to gain weight.

Don’t count calories or starve yourself. You don’t have to do that to lose weight.

Eating lots of healthy food is the key to losing weight.

Stop sinning and start getting healthy

The biggest sin you commit against your weight loss efforts is not eating healthy food.

Refined oils, refined added sugar, fad dieting, detoxing and starving yourself don’t help you become healthy or skinny. They only hurt your health, metabolism and figure in the long run.

Lose weight and become healthy by eating a healthy diet. It’s as easy as that.

Tried everything but you're not losing weight? You're probably committing one of these weight loss sins. Read this and get your weight loss back on track.
  • Updated 3 years ago
Sara Binde

Sara is a health and nutrition coach. She advocates for a whole foods plant-based lifestyle and teaches the world how to achieve weight loss.