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Diet & Nutrition

The 5 Biggest Diet Mistakes to Avoid

4 Mins read

Want to drop a few kilos or maintain a steady weight this year? Make sure you steer clear of these common errors that can hinder your progress or, worse, damage your health…

1. Banning Entire Food Groups

Carbs are bad for you. Fats make you gain weight… With so many misleading, contradictory mixed messages out there, it’s hard to know what to believe when opting for a diet plan. While, in theory, it seems to make sense that cutting out entire food groups would further slash calories, ultimately leading to weight loss — it’s not necessarily healthy.

According to Circle Dietitian, Kris Ng: “Food groups are defined based on their nutrient properties, where one can’t replace one another. For example, any global dietary guidelines recommendations are based on the five different food groups: grains, fruits, vegetables, meat and alternatives, and dairy.

“Each food group contains various nutrients like carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, folate, protein, calcium, and magnesium etc. Cutting out entire food groups can deprive the body of these essential nutrients it needs to function optimally. So, while you may lose weight initially as you’re cutting calories, you’ll ultimately end up putting weight back on when you reintroduce them into your diet or develop deficiencies if you don’t.”

2. Skipping Meals

This might seem like a logical quick fix, but skipping meals on a regular basis confuses your metabolism and could lead to more weight gain in the long term, says Ng. He adds that skipping meals can lower your metabolism rate due to a lack of nutrients.

Skipping meals may actually do more harm than good

“Think of the body like your phone,” he says. “We need enough battery to keep it going — and when we have a low battery, we go into ‘power-saving’ mode (i.e. our metabolism slows down), where we turn off non-essential apps (i.e. body functions). While we can keep going, we burn fewer calories. That’s why skipping a meal is like missing an opportunity to charge our phones — i.e. consume high nutrient-dense food that sustains a high metabolism rate ultimately resulting in weight loss.

3. Not Eating in Moderation

‘Everything in moderation’ is a phrase we hear often, but fail to implement in our daily lives. Moderation is defined as “the avoidance of excess or extremes,” and in terms of our diets, it usually refers to overeating where we fail to note our portion size. Even the most nutritious food may derail your diet plans if you eat too much of it.

“Some of us have very low appetite control — I am one of them,” says Ng. “We eat like goldfish, not understanding when our bodies really need food. The sensation of fullness is stimulated by the stretching of our stomach that sends signals to our brain telling it that it’s full. But when we fail to eat in moderation — and find ourselves overeating — we are inadvertently training our stomachs to be overstimulated to accommodate more food without our brains being triggered that we’ve had enough. This can ultimately lead to weight gain.”

He adds, “An effective way to learn to eat in moderation is to eat more mindfully. Taking more time to chew your food, having a glass of water before your meals and consciously eating slower will help you eat more moderately.”

4. Falling for Detox Scams

After drinking and eating too much over the silly season, it’s easy to want to get back on track by embarking on a rigorous detox regimen. But what most of us don’t realise is that our body doesn’t need help cleansing itself.

Our kidneys, liver, intestines, skin and lungs excrete waste and are detoxifying us as we speak, so we don’t need to deprive it of essential nutrients in a bid to sweat out a so-called build up of toxins.

Our body doesn’t need help cleansing itself

Instead, stay away from fad ‘detox’ products, pills, potions, powders and teas, and rather include things like greens, lean meats and other nutrient-rich foods into your diets.

Ng explains, “Detoxification happens naturally in our liver in two phases. Phase I is similar to the process of throwing our waste/ toxins into a trash can, and phase II is when we empty that bin (i.e. we excrete the toxins out of our body). We can speed up the natural detoxification process by including cruciferous vegetables such as kale, broccoli, cauliflower into our diet, as they work as effective toxin eliminators.”

5. Eating Too Much After a Workout

Nothing burns calories better than a workout — however, what most of us don’t realise that abs are actually made in the kitchen. “Weight loss is 20 percent exercise and 80 percent diet,” says Ng. “A nutritious, post-workout meal is important for effective recovery and muscle building. However, our body can only use approximately 20–25 grams of protein in a meal. That means excessive protein, carbohydrates and fat get stored in our body as fat.”


Therefore, giving yourself license to overindulge on unhealthy, processed foods after a workout because you believe you ‘earned it’ may be reversing all your hard work. However, on the flip side, if you find yourself famished after a workout, you probably aren’t getting enough pre-exercise nutrition.

Don’t fall for diet fads this year! Discover your optimal diet based on your genes at

Circle is brought to you by Prenetics Limited. With over US $50m in investments from Alibaba and Ping An, Prenetics is one of the fastest-growing genetic testing and digital healthcare companies, globally.

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The editorial team behind CircleMagazine, dedicated to bringing you bite-size health tips, real-life health stories and the latest genetic-related findings at this digital health hub.
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