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7 Hidden Habits that Make You Gain Weight7 Hidden Habits that Make You Gain Weight


Woman standing in front of a refrigerator at night.

Hidden habits have a way of sneaking into your daily routine and preventing you from reaching your weight loss goals. These simple actions may seem harmless, but they can have enough impact on your calorie balance to keep the scale from moving in the right direction.

Staying up just a few more minutes.

Research shows that sleep deprivation causes an increase in the hormone ghrelin, which stimulates appetite and hunger. At the same time, there is a decrease in the hormone leptin, which signals satiety (fullness). Skimping on sleep may make you eat more.

Taking a few bites.

A bite here and a nibble there may seem insignificant to your total calorie intake, but that all depends on what you are eating. A few bites of cookie dough can contain as many as 120 calories. If you fail to add that to your food diary, it is easy to overlook extra calories that are keeping the weight on.

Cutting out early.

Skipping the last 10 minutes of indoor cycling class to beat traffic may get you home faster, but it isn’t helping you reach your goals. A 150-pound person burns 79 calories in 10 minutes of moderate indoor cycling. Skip out on five workouts and you will miss burning almost 400 calories!

Topping it off.

Salads, oatmeal, black bean tacos, and baked sweet potatoes are all healthy meals, but only if you don’t take the toppings too far. Nuts, seeds, dressings, cheese, croutons, and sour cream can all add delicious flavor when used in moderation. Go overboard, and you will quickly turn your meal from healthy to high-calorie.

Snacking on processed foods.

Packaged foods like crackers and cookies may be described as whole grain, diet, light, or natural, but that doesn’t mean they will help you lose weight. Excess sugars, fat-replacers, and sodium are all hidden ingredients that may make them too good to be true. At snack time, reach for fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds instead.

Skipping the water bottle.

Hydration plays a role in curbing hunger. Drinking water throughout the day will keep you feeling full and energetic. It can also keep you satisfied while replacing higher-calorie drinks like soda and fruit juices.

Sneaking in sugar.

Controlling portions of pasta sauces, condiments, yogurt, granola bars, and cereals will keep calories in check, but it is the sugar that is the problem. Excess added sugar can cause you to crave more sugar, which can lead to eating the high-calorie dessert you don’t need.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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