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The Death of Diets

A lifestyle change supports dietary needs

As a health and fitness professional a frequent question I find myself answering is what I think of the newest fad diets on the market and dieting in general. Let’s just say I don’t believe in them!

I don’t believe in diets because more often than not they promote rapid weight loss with unrealistic dietary demands. Personally, I have done my fair share of experimenting with dieting and I can truthfully say that “dieting” is NOT the solution to achieving a healthy balance with food that supports your dietary needs.

I was introduced to the world of dieting at the age of 19 when I began competing in bikini competitions. I choose to compete for the vain reason of wanting to look “ripped” like all the women in the fitness magazines. In order to achieve the desired physique, I experimented with many different diets. Most of them worked, but only for a short period of time before I was back to where I started, if not higher.

The issue with dieting is that most diets are not sustainable.  They typically tell you what to eat, rather than teach you what to eat. They lack variety which often is the result of nutritional deficiencies and leave you feeling deprived. Deprivation, dissatisfaction and stress are the main contributors towards people giving up.

According to Google to diet is to “restrict oneself to small amounts or special kinds of food in order to lose weight”.  Right away you notice what is wrong with the concept of dieting:

1: You are restricting yourself.

2. You are undereating.

One of the main issues when it comes to dieting is that often these “diets” restrict individuals to certain foods. You can only deprive yourself for so long before you finally allow yourself to have those foods. More often than not individuals will run into the problem of binge eating. Binge eating is an eating disorder where you overeat, and you never feel satisfied, which makes you eat more. When you hear about people dieting and losing weight and then gaining all of it back plus more, it’s usually due to the binge eating. I’ve personally experienced it before and it was awful. It was like you could eat endless amounts of food and never feel full or satisfied.

Normally diets consist of low calories to guarantee quick results. As rapid weight loss is seen, so are changes in hormones. Ghrelin the hormone that make you feel hungry increases, while Leptin the hormones that help you feel full decreases. Therefore, as you continue to lose weight you feel hungrier and less satisfied.

Weight loss happens when the body is under a caloric deficit. The concern is that these diets severely limits the calories. When your body gets used to consuming fewer calories, it slows down your metabolism. Meaning that if your body was able to burn 1700 calories it could potentially decrease to 1200 calories.

Dieting can also cause nutrition deficiencies due to lack of variety in food. When you are restricted to certain food your body isn’t able to consume the essential vitamin and minerals our body needs. Lack of vitamin and mineral lead to lower immune system.

Dieting can often be stressful and interfere with your everyday life. Counting calories and endlessly thinking about your next meal is mentally draining. In addition, when you are in a drastic caloric deficit, you gravitate towards foods that mimic high calorie foods that are processed and chemically produced. Essentially you are choosing chemically unhealthy foods to ensure you stay within your calories.

The way to a healthier lifestyle is not accomplish through dieting, it is done through lifestyle changes that supports your dietary needs. Our bodies require a certain number of calories and nutrients to stay healthy. It’s important that the foods we choose to consume are nutrient dense, so that you can get all the nutrients your body needs without going over you daily caloric intake.

Food is made up of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are carbohydrates, protein and fats, while micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals. All food will have a macronutrient breakdown, the main difference will be the breakdown of the macronutrients and the number of vitamins and minerals. Junk food and packaged (unnatural) food are made up of artificial ingredients that are not natural for us humans to eat. They confuse the brain in utilizing the energy and where each nutrient should go. This is why you should stay away from junk food as they are empty calories as has no nutritional value.  

When trying to eat healthy, make sure that all meals are balanced. Meaning that you have a good amount of healthy carbs, fats, and proteins. Making a list of nutritious protein, fat, and carbohydrate options is a great idea for starters to see what types of food you should be including. Stick to whole natural foods and minimize processed food as they don’t provide any nutritional value.  When you have a balance diet your body is less likely to crave foods and consequently you will stick to this lifestyle. Making the right lifestyle changes that work for you, getting creative in the kitchen will help you stick to this lifestyle that will make you feel more energetic, happier and overall healthier.

Daniela Molina, CPT, OTC