The Truth About Diets
When you’re on a restrictive diet and therefore eat less than your resting metabolic rate, i.e. less calories than your body needs to survive, your body will think you are starving and you will begin to kick in all kinds of starvation protection mechanisms.
Most people who go on a diet and lose weight end up regaining that weight within a year – why?
The explanation can be complicated:
- One reason is that a diet is a short-term solution and people don’t really change their behaviours over the long-term so put the weight back on when returning to normal eating
- Another reason is our body has appetite and weight-regulating hormonal mechanisms that try to maintain homeostasis (energy intake = energy expenditure) over the long-term
- If we try to change things, like dieting, the body responds by increasing our appetite to get back to homeostasis, i.e. makes us hungrier.
The reality is that only 2% of weight loss diets (eat less, exercise more principle) are successful for long-term health [all diets have their benefits but the reality is that they are all high-fad diets where the weight loss is not sustainable].
What happens when you go on a diet?
- Lose muscle tissue and water stored in the muscles – muscle burns 70 times more calories than fat so when you lose weight, you lose muscle and fat – when you put the weight back on, it is just fat and this burns 70 times fewer calories than muscle so you need fewer calories to maintain the same weight
- Store body fat – the starvation protection mechanism will kick in
- Lower your RMR (Resting Metabolic Rate) meaning you need less calories to function
- Create irregular hormonal responses that drive our feeding behaviour.
So what usually happens in a ‘normal’ day of dieting?
You skip breakfast
You have a light lunch
You miss out on any snacks in fear of gaining weight
You get home after work and overeat
(we are hardwired to overeat when the food is available)
So what can you do to lose weight effectively and still be healthy?
Strive for a healthy weight loss of 1-2lbs per week (3,500 calories = 1lb of weight). This will maintain your muscle tissue and ensure your body still gets the nutrients it needs to function properly.
My tips for a healthy weight loss and healthy life include:
- Follow a low GI eating plan. GI stands for Glycaemic Index and it involves eating low GI carbohydrates, which keep your energy levels balanced and means you will feel fuller for longer between meals with long-term health benefits such as reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes
- If you want even better results, avoid dairy, wheat, sugar, alcohol and caffeine for 14 days and continue with the low GI eating plan
- Don’t count calories – there’s no need if you are eating healthy foods
- Combine healthy fats, protein and fibrous carbohydrates at every meal
- Avoid obesity additives such as in cakes, biscuits, most breakfast cereals, sauces, gravy, corn, soy and wheat products (you can eat small amounts of wheat if you don’t have an allergy to it but try to avoid gluten), white flour products (bread, rice and pasta), soft drinks, fast food, processed food and canned or cured meats
- Avoid late night carbohydrates apart from vegetables
- Avoid alcohol or at least reduce your intake – alcohol contains so many ’empty’ calories with very limited nutritional value
- Keep well hydrated and drink plenty of clean water, i.e. not tap water
- Keep stress levels to a minimum as stress releases cortisol – a hormone that leads to a change in your body composition and leads to fat deposition around your middle.
Stick to these rules and you will reap the benefits of a healthy weight loss.
There is NO NEED to go on a diet!
Personal Trainer in Newcastle helping busy women who struggle with their weight or are unhappy with their body shape & want to see a difference very quickly.