Is Your Weight Loss Diet Making You Fatter? (+ Long-Term Effects of Dieting)
In an attempt to get that perfect beach body, we subject ourselves to a variety of fads and weight loss diets. There are no quick fixes to losing weight – especially not any that are healthy and will help you maintain the results.
Effectively losing weight stems from an increased metabolism, a healthy diet consisting of whole foods and unprocessed foods, and a regular sleep and exercise schedule. Weight loss is a combination of overall wellness – mental and physical.
So, how is an industry – advertised to make you skinner – that makes over $150 billion each year in Europe and the United States alone, actually making you fatter?
How could it be making you fatter?
Studies show that of millions of people who begin a diet, gain back one-third to two-thirds of the weight lost within one year and almost all the weight they lost, within five years.
The process of weight loss and unintentional weight regain, such as yo-yo dieting, could be doing the exact opposite to your body of what you intended when you set out to start a diet.
Your habits developed during a diet, and your methods of dieting, could actually be sabotaging your weight loss by making you crave junk food and overeat at the worst times. (1)
Below are a few weight loss diets or practices you might be doing that are actually making you fatter in the long run:
1. You don’t know how many calories you’re consuming.
While eating healthy is important, eating whole and nutritious food does not cancel out the need to track your calories. Weight loss is all about burning more calories than your intake, through metabolism.
Often, individuals trying to lose weight will begin eating fish, yogurt, nuts and other nutritious items and stop counting calories. They assume that because they are eating healthy, they cannot possibly be overeating.
People also report that the task of counting calories can be a pain. There are plenty of calorie counting apps, but people simply do not want to go through the trouble. As a result, these people may overshoot their calorie targets for the day, resulting in slower weight loss or worse, weight gain.
A negative energy balance is necessary to shed excess pounds, so learning how to quantify your food intake is essential. (2)
2. You starve yourself to see quicker results.
Usually, when people make the decision to lose weight they want to see results fast, so they result to crash dieting or starvation. Crash diets involve an extreme change in diet – both in what you are eating and the amount you are eating. Individuals who crash diet will cut back to a few small portions a day, and typically will not even eat enough to meet their minimum nutritional calorie count.
Crash dieting is one of the most common reasons for weight re-gain and yo-yo dieting. You simply cannot maintain such a strict diet, and your body will long for more fuel.
Crash dieting could have negative health consequences over the course of the diet, and even after, once the dieting period has been completed. (3)
3. Your diet is highly restrictive and makes you hyperaware of food.
A diet will not be successful if you are unable to stick with the program. While there are numerous diets out there, no one diet has been universally successful at inducing and maintaining weight loss in participating individuals.
Each diet has a different key method to weight loss, but that does not work for everyone. Studies have shown that the best way to lose weight and maintain the weight loss is by finding a diet that you will be able to follow and incorporate into your daily life for the lifelong maintenance of your body weight.
Diets are filled with an “on” or “off” mentality. Once you have “fallen off,” it can be hard to get back on. If your every waking moment revolves around what to eat, when you can eat, or how much you can eat, there is something wrong with your diet. (4)
4. You are eating food-like products, not real food.
Just because your diet consists of low-carbohydrate, name brand diet bars and high-protein breakfast shakes does not make it the healthiest – or even real food. Diet food, while advertised as low-carb, can still be bad for you.
These diet foods can still be packed with dyes, refined sugars, and other unhealthy substances. The only way to ensure that what you are eating is truly healthy and beneficial to your body is to practice clean eating. By eating healthy, natural, whole foods, you will ensure that you are providing your body with what it needs to function optimally.
Whole foods are the best sources of protein, energy and other vitamins and minerals. (5) With it, you can be certain that you are giving your body the best playing field for weight loss and additional energy.
5. You are constantly shocking your body with numerous weight loss protocols.
This outcome stems from all the above listed items. If you are constantly jumping “on” and “off” of the diet, eating processed low-carb foods and occasionally crash dieting – you are putting your body through unnecessary stress, and you will pay for it in the long run.
With so much back and forth, your body simply cannot keep up. The constant changes can also damage your metabolism. If you are eating right and exercising off and on, your resting metabolic rate will be dragged from one side of the spectrum to another, making it hard for your body to reach homestasis. This can make it harder for you to lose or gain weight, and it can further damage your metabolism due to a hormonal imbalance. (6)
The infamous weight loss diets that you continuously go back to might be the real reason that you are not losing weight. While these diets are advertised to help you lose the optimal amount of weight, if they are filled with processed foods and a plan you cannot stick with, then they are only harming you.
The only way to safely lose weight and maintain it is to find a balance that works for you. Aim to eat healthy, whole and unprocessed foods. Develop a plan that works for you and one that you will be able to maintain over the course of your body weight maintenance. This will help prevent yo-yo dieting, which will also help ensure that you are continuing to boost your metabolism and putting yourself in a good position physically and mentally to keep the weight off.
There is no quick fix to weight loss – it is all about exercise, eating healthy, and finding your balance.