1. Going to Sleep Too Full
Going to sleep on a full stomach can cause discomfort and disrupted sleep, which can wreak havoc on your waistline by causing you to hold on to belly fat and eat more. Make sure you eat dinner at least a few hours before bedtime; if you need a snack later on, keep it under 200 calories.
2. Going to Bed Hungry
You may think that going to bed with a grumbling stomach will help your body burn off more fat while you sleep, but studies have shown this isn’t the case. In fact, going to bed hungry may actually cause you to lose muscle instead — which, in turn, slows down your fat-burning potential. Keep your metabolism soaring by having a small, 150-calorie snack before you climb into bed.
3. Not Factoring In Your Snack
You’ve powered down for the day and put your food journal away, but don’t think that those late-night nibbles don’t add up. If you’re sticking to a weight-loss plan, make sure you keep track of any postdinner calories, so you’re not left wondering why the number on the scale doesn’t budge. If you know you like to have a snack before going to bed, making sure you’ve “saved” a few calories from the day can help you stick to your limits.
4. Starving All Day, Feasting All Night
There’s nothing you like more than relaxing on the couch with a bowl of ice cream, so you pick at your dinner just so you can indulge before bedtime. This is a recipe for disaster; not only are you almost guaranteeing an uncomfortable night with a full stomach, saving your “cheats” for after dinner and beyond can lead to an unhealthy cycle of junk food and regret. Try to disassociate your late-night snack with unhealthy foods, and focus on eating regularly throughout the day and having a healthy snack after dinner only if you’re hungry.
5. Using the Wrong Oils
Pouring the wrong oil into your pan can do worse than make your eggs taste like olives. “When an oil heats past its smoke point, the fatty acid profile has degraded, producing toxins, free radicals, and even trans fats,” says Batayneh. She recommends using walnut or olive oil for salad dressings since they both can burn at high temperatures. Coconut, grapeseed, and sunflower oils, however, all have high smoke points, making them perfect for sautéing and grilling. Stock up on these four alternative cooking oils.
6. Baking Without a Roasting Pan
Baking is a great way to keep your dishes low-cal. But unless you set your meat on a rack, it’s just going to sit in and soak up its own grease, thwarting your weight-loss efforts, says Batayneh. Next time you pop some steak, pork, poultry, or even fish in the oven, make sure it’s on a roasting pan—or at least a wire rack in the bottom of your baking dish.
7. Skipping the Spice Rack
“We usually rely on sugar, salt, and fat for flavor, which can up the calorie count of a dish dramatically,” says Batayneh. “Using spices instead allows a cook to cut out those added sugars, oil, butter, or salt—and over time, you’ll also retrain your taste buds to not crave those salty, sugary, fatty additions.” Plus, herbs and spices pack a powerful punch of health-boosting, fat-fighting nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Learn how to add spices to your favorite foods.
8. Using Too Much Oil
Healthy fats can help you lose weight, but not if you act like their calories—all 120 per tablespoon of them—don’t count. And when you’re using oil to cook and add flavor to your dishes, those calories can add up fast, says Batayneh. “When you’re cooking, use only enough oil to prevent sticking,” she says Not sure how much that is? Try investing in a spray bottle for your oil so you don’t overdo it by mistake. Find out how much fat is healthy.