The 5 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes

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weight loss mistakes

The 5 Biggest Weight Loss Mistakes

Have you ever struggled to lose weight?  Have you ever had unstoppable cravings that plagued you and tarnished your ability to get to your ideal weight?

As a clinician who specializes in helping people lose weight I have seen so many individuals who have struggled with yo-yo dieting and stress induced weight gain.  For many, they are able to lose weight easily when they are younger but by the time they hit 40, the extra weight becomes stubborn and resistant.  This is a condition called “Weight Loss Resistance” and it has to do with chronic inflammation and impaired hormone function.

Working with clients for the last 15 years, I have seen these 5 biggest weight loss mistakes derail people’s motivation and drive to achieve a better physique.  Weight loss isn’t as hard as many people believe, but we have to focus on regulating our hormones and not simply eating less and working out more.  If you have struggled with weight loss resistance than read this article so you can discover what to do to finally shed those unwanted pounds.

weight loss mistakes

Where Did We Go Wrong?

We used to think that weight loss was as simple as    Calories in vs Calories out

The less calories you take in and the more calories you burn the more weight you lose.  This is now considered an archaic model of metabolism.  Now we understand that weight loss comes down to hormone function (12) and immune system coordination (3,4).  A lifestyle that restricts calories may not allow us to lose the kind of weight we want and it certainly will not necessarily make us healthier. This article will cover some of the most common weight loss mistakes that we make.

A lifestyle that enhances our hormone function and immune coordination will improve our overall health and help us shed the unwanted weight.  Here are the three biggest weight loss mistakes that many make when trying to lose weight.

Eating Low-Fat and Low-Calorie Foods: 

These foods are typically made up of low-nutrient processed carbohydrates.  All natural foods that have carbohydrates also contain fibers, anti-oxidants, enzymes and trace minerals like chromium to help with blood sugar signaling processes.  Processed carbohydrates drive up the blood sugar and cause inflammatory processes in the body.

Inflammation damages the cell membranes and alters hormonal communication processes.   When hormone function is impaired it leads to more inflammation and for genetically susceptible individuals it will cause weight loss resistance.

You don’t need to lower fat, in fact, you want to increase your intake of fat substantially.  Essential fats are used to make hormones and improve the cell membrane for healthy hormone function in the body. This is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes that we make.

Good fats such as coconut products, avocados, extra-virgin olive oil and grass-fed butter should be staples in the diet.  People with the healthiest hormones eat the most fat and the lowest amount of starchy carbohydrates.


Eating Chemicals Rather than Nutrients:

Many processed foods are marketed as low calorie, healthy foods and tricking consumers into building a diet around these is one of the most common weight loss mistakes people are making.

These foods are often loaded with fake fats and artificial flavorings and preservatives.  They also contain genetically modified ingredients that are full of toxic pesticides and herbicides.  Often times these foods are supplemented with synthetic vitamins and minerals.  These are unnatural nutrients that act more like inflammatory chemicals that true living nutrients.  This cocktail of chemicals impairs our immune system and causes chronic inflammation in the body.

Inflammation damages the cell membranes and alters hormonal communication processes.   When hormone function is impaired it leads to more inflammation and for genetically susceptible individuals it will cause weight loss resistance.

For optimal fat burning you want real nutrient dense foods.  Stick with organic animal products, fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds.  Do your best to stay low in carbs by not overconsuming fruit and starches and choosing the healthy fats discussed above.

 Doing the Wrong Type of Exercise:

Most people assume that if you want to lose weight you have to do a lot of cardiovascular exercise.  This is untrue and is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes people are making on a day to day basis.

Low intensity, long-duration exercise such as spending 60 minutes on an elliptical machine may help you burn calories but it does nothing to stimulate fat-burning hormones.  In fact, it actually causes more stress on the body and negates your body from stimulating these fat-burning hormones.

When you do high-intensity, short duration exercise such as burst training you stimulate fat-burning hormones like human growth hormone (HGH).  The more HGH your body produces the more amplified the fat burning effect will be throughout the day.

weight loss mistakesHigh Intensity Training:

High intensity strength training where you do large muscle group exercises such as squats, deadlifts, push-ups, pull-ups, dips, bench press, overhead press, etc. gives the greatest muscle toning & fat burning effects.  The more muscle fibers you fatigue (through large muscle group exercises with challenging sets) during the training the more HGH you will secrete.

Keep these workouts short – between 5 to 30 minutes max for the greatest metabolic effect.  When your training session goes beyond 30 minutes your body will begin secreting stress hormones which will negate the HGH release.

The great thing about doing high intensity training is that you don’t need to train as often.  I don’t recommend doing high intensity training every day as it can overwhelm your system and lead to over training syndrome.   For most people I would say three to four days a week is plenty.  You actually need more rest days in order to recover from the training and stimulate more lean body mass development and fat burning.

I recommend doing something like an upper body workout every Monday and Thursday and a lower body workout on Tuesday and Friday.  On your off days, stay active and do light movement.  This would include going out and taking a walk in your neighborhood or at the park, or dancing to your favorite songs at home, playing with your children or going shopping and walk around the mall or grocery store.

Not Prioritizing Good Sleep

One of the biggest weight loss mistakes I see people make is that they stay up too late at night and devalue the importance of high quality sleep and how it impacts their hormonal system.  Sleep is when our body resets and recycles key hormones and neurotransmitters.  It is a crucial time for self-healing and the regulation of our metabolism.  Getting a high quality 7-8+ hours of sleep each night is very important for fat burning and the maintenance of lean body tissue.

The time we go to sleep is perhaps even more important than the total quantity of hours of sleep.  Our body starts increasing melatonin and HGH at night after the sun goes down and we get massive increases in these fat burning hormones when we are in a deep sleep before midnight.  Many sleep scientists believe that every hour of sleep before midnight is equivalent to the regenerative capacity of 3 hours of sleep after midnight.

This means that if you are sleeping from 10pm-6am every morning it is more than 100% more restorative than sleeping from 1am-9am.  Studies on shift workers have demonstrated a number of issues with metabolism, blood sugar regulation, obesity, blood pressure and cardiovascular disease risk when the natural circadian rhythm is thrown off by awkward sleep cycles.

For optimal fat burning, do your best to stop doing anything that is overly stimulating such as working, scrolling social media and watching thrilling television shows or movies after 9pm every night.  Instead, create a wind down process and aim to be fully relaxed and in bed by 10pm.  If you are struggling with poor sleep than read this article to find out how to improve it.

weight loss mistakes

Eating Too Often Throughout the Day

We have all heard the importance of eating many small meals throughout the day to keep our metabolism stoked.  However, modern science is showing that this is one of the biggest weight loss mistakes and actually leads to hormone dysfunction.  When we are eating every 2-3 hours, we continually increase our fat storage hormone insulin and never put our body into a state of natural fat burning.

In the last 20 years, there has been an explosion of research on the power of fasting and daily intermittent fasting strategies to regulate metabolism, improve fat burning and reduce whole body inflammation.

I recommend starting by cutting out all snacking and sticking with 3 meals per day in a 12 hour feeding window.  This would be something like breakfast at 8am and being finished eating by 8pm each night.

After the first week, try reducing your feeding window to 8-10 hours by hydrating well in the morning and pushing your breakfast out until 10am and then eating dinner earlier and finishing by 6pm.  Overtime, you will build your fasting fitness and you will notice less hunger as your body uses your own body fat to fuel itself.

You may realize that you feel much better only eating 1 or 2 meals each day.   This process will turn you into a lean, mean, fat burning machine!!  For more info on applying intermittent fasting strategies read this article.

autoimmune diseases, 3 Ways Fasting Improves AutoImmune Diseases

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Counterregulation of insulin by leptin as key component of autonomic regulation of body weight. Borer KT. World J Diabetes. 2014 Oct 15;5(5):606-29. PMID: 25317239
2. Leptin signaling, adiposity, and energy balance. Jéquier E. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2002 Jun;967:379-88. Review. PMID: 12079865
3. Inflammation and weight gain in reproductive-aged women. Perng W, Rifas-Shiman SL, Rich-Edwards JW, Stuebe AM, Oken E. Ann Hum Biol. 2014 Dec 16:1-5. PMID: 25510294
4. Obesity and inflammation: the effects of weight loss. Forsythe LK, Wallace JM, Livingstone MB. Nutr Res Rev. 2008 Dec;21(2):117-33. PMID: 19087366

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Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


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  1. I’m into the shorter-duration, high intensity exercise, and I have a question:

    What do you think about the “super slow burn” method of weight exercises (For example, doing a push-up very slowly, going down for 10 seconds and then up for 10 seconds, for about 3 sets…. in other words, doing the weight exercises slowly, and being done with a series of 7 to 10 different exercises in 30 minutes or so)?

    I’ve just read a book called “Super Slow Burn” and am interested in trying it. Would it be the same, or compatible, to the short duration/high intensity that you advocate?


  2. Hi Dr. Jockers,

    I greatly appreciate your website and emails. I just want to bring to your attention one concern I have about this article.

    Although you do mention grass-fed butter in the following paragraph, the illustration doesn’t mention (with the exception of fish) animal fats. The majority of Americans have an Omega 3:Omega 6 ratio of 1:20 or 1:25, as opposed to the 1:1desired. Eating a diet rich in full fat grass-fed meats, eggs, dairy, and wild fish with the above plant oils in a condiment fashion will correct this. This will also provide the much needed saturated fat and cholesterol for the body, in addition to the much needed readily absorbable vitamins A, D, E and K.

    Thanks for dedication and may God continue to bless you.

    Maureen McGovern, D.T.

  3. Do you have a videos? Also one knee cap tracks off occassionally. Should I just modify?
    Probably going to keel over after very first exercise, but would like to finish the whole thing as a goal.

    Thank you,

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