The 7 Deadliest Sins of Dieting

Even if you're counting calories and eliminating fast food, you won't reach your goals if you fall victim to certain dieting blunders. Read on to uncover the seven deadly sins of dieting-and to ensure weight-loss success. 

1. Depriving yourself. This behavior can only last for so long. At some point, you're going to break, say Harvard researchers, who found that diets that are too restrictive will most likely lead to bouts of overeating or binge eating. Try eating smaller meals and snacks throughout the day, which will help to jump-start your metabolism and stop you from feeling famished by day's end.

2. Falling for "fads".  Although some of these plans may seem to work initially, any pounds you shed on them tend to come back quickly and in greater numbers. What's more, fad diets can pose serious health risks. The same goes for most diet pills. According to experts, you should plan to lose a maximum of two pounds a week; any plan or product professing to help you lose more than that should be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

3. Going it alone.  Losing weight is hard, but without a support system, it's even harder. With nobody to tell you put that doughnut down or remind you about your 6 A.M. aerobics class, your chances for success are going to be lower. If you recruit a buddy, it will make you feel more accountable for your successes and setbacks-and help you to lose more weight, according to a Brown Medical School Study.

4. Forsaking exercise.  Many people make the mistake of thinking that cutting calories is all it takes to shed pounds. Although watching what you eat is surely part of the puzzle, it doesn't tell the whole story. The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) found that 94 percent of people who successfully lost weight increased their frequency of exercise. So be sure to make physical activity a part of your dieting regimen.

5. Adding too many extras. You may think you're doing your body good by eating that salad, but if you're just loading it up with creamy dressing and full-fat cheese, there's nothing diet-friendly about it. Instead, substitute high-calorie condiments for lower-calorie alternatives. If you usually opt for ranch or blue cheese dressing, switch to vinaigrette (if you're dining out, always ask for it on the side). And if you generally use mayonnaise, swap it for mustard-you'll save nearly 40 calories per tablespoon.

6. Being a yo-yo dieter. The constant ups and downs may not only be hurting your waistline; they could also be harming your health. In addition to the discouragement that may accompany rapid weight cycling, yo-yo dieting has been linked to long-lasting negative impacts on metabolism, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA). As if that's not enough, yo-yo dieters may experience physical problems, such as a decrease in muscular strength and endurance, thinning hair, loss of coordination, fainting, weakness, and slowed heart rates.

7. Surrendering too soon. It takes a great deal of dedication to shed pounds, and results don't just happen overnight. The key, according to experts, is resisting the urge to throw in the towel, no matter how many setbacks you may face. Remember, the road to weight loss is a journey with many twists and turns-but when you reach your goals, there are many rewards to be had.