Have you ever embarked on a diet that promised quick weight loss in a short space of time? Did it work? What happened after you finished it? Did you put the weight back on and more?
There are so many fad diets out there, old and new methods such as the Atkins diet, Weight watchers, paleo, juice diet, raw diet, soup diet and the list goes on. The one thing that is common in all these methods is that they restrict entire food groups from your diet, which creates a calorie deficit and at the end of the day, that will result in weight loss. However, the statistics for dieters who lose weight rapidly shows that only 5% of people on a crash diet will keep the weight off.
Why is that you ask? I’ll explain.
When you change your diet rapidly and cut out entire food groups, you might lose weight quickly at the beginning, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you are only shedding body fat. Most of it will be water weight (which will come back once you return to your normal eating) and the large calorie deficit and often excessive cardio exercise that people tend to favour when trying to lose weight could result in muscle loss as well.
If your goal is to tone up and improve your body composition you certainly do not want to lose muscle because that is what gives your body shape and it keeps your metabolism healthy and efficient. The healthy rate is to lose 0,5-1kg (1-2 pounds) fat a week.
After a few weeks/months of following a restrictive diet, the metabolism adapts to the low-calorie intake and it slows down. The initially fast weight loss results stop and you reach a plateau.
You can’t possible eat any less because you are already consuming the bear minimum to survive and doing so much exercise, so you eventually give up and go back to your old eating habits. However, you now have a slower, less efficient metabolism (due to the prolonged low calorie intake and less muscle) so your body will quickly store the extra calories as fat. You then might start an other diet, but this time it will be even harder to lose weight because you already have a wrecked metabolism from previous attempts. This is the typical rebound or ‘yo-yo’ dieting.
The biggest problem with these fad diets is that they are not sustainable long term and not promoting healthy eating habits. If you are on a diet right now, ask yourself this question “is it something I can do for the rest of my life?” If the answer is no, don’t waste your time with it!
So, what is the right way of getting in shape?
When you make the decision to lose weight, shape your body and get healthy, you need to think long term and to prepare yourself to change your daily habits. You can’t expect to do a drastic 4 week crash diet than go back to your old bad habits and not to put the weight back! This is just silly and makes no sense!
Maintaining a healthy and lean body requires the daily habit of eating good, wholesome foods and regular exercise. It must be a lifestyle choice if you’d like to sustain your results and be healthy, strong and energetic for life. It might be hard at the beginning to eat different foods and to exercise but with time you will get used it and it will become like second nature. Statistics show that it takes about 2-3 months to form a habit, however with little things, such as drinking more water, it can take less, about 21 days. After this time, your new healthy routines will become automatic and part of your life and that is the key for long-lasting success.
Start making small improvements in your diet such as drinking more water, cutting out refined sugar and junk food, eating more vegetables and fruits, cut back on alcohol and fizzy, sugary drinks. Of course, you don’t want to do this all at once but rather slowly, week by week.
Start by training 2-3x a week if you are new to exercise. You don’t need to go to the gym 6x a week just because the girl you follow on IG does. She might have been training for years and her level of fitness allows her to do that. You need to do what is best for you, your experience and fitness level.
I hope this helps to better understand why fad diets must be avoided! They can be detrimental to your health and not teaching you the basic principles of how to lead a healthy lifestyle.
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