I’m not a dieter, or someone who can do cleanses where you don’t have anything but liquids. I don’t think I could survive a liquid cleanse. I know you can train your body to do pretty much anything, which I have, since I’ve trained it to eat frequent small meals. But for some reason, a liquid cleanse shuts my mind down immediately.
My extent of dieting extends to a couple of vacations where I’ve tried to get my abs to looks a specific way before I left. To do it, I would cut about 250 calories out of my diet a day for a couple of weeks before a trip. I found that hard, so I have nothing but praise for the discipline it takes to cut out way more than that for longer periods of time. When I’m working out heavily (5-6 days a week of weight training and cardio), I try to get 2,800-3,000 calories a day. When I’m doing my regular workout schedule (3-4 days a week of moderate workouts), I aim for 2,500. These are the calories that work specifically for me to maintain my weight.
Sorry, this was a long way to say that I’ve always been fascinated with diets. My friends and family can attest to it. I ask a million questions about the ones they are trying out. Sometimes it makes them laugh, other times I can tell I’m bugging them, but I’m actively interested. When I did my nutrition certification, we focused on the cons primarily, with some pros depending on the type of diet or cleanse.
Many people may sing the praises of the diet they’re on (low or no carb, high protein, etc.) and how it works for them; but statistics show that this isn’t the case for everyone.
The average North American diets three to four times a year, yet research shows only 5% will have maintained their weight at the end of one year. But people still spend billions of dollars on different diet fads.
Some diet statistics
People who regularly diet can lower their metabolism enough to decrease their caloric needs. From what I’ve learned, it happens in two ways.
The first way is eating a diet of fewer than 1000-1200 calories daily.
It can cause your body to go into a starvation-like state and force it to store calories. Your metabolism will slow down as your body cuts back the number of calories it needs to survive. Therefore, you won’t lose more in the longer-term on a 900 calorie diet than you would on one eating 1400 calories. Being in this starvation state can lower your metabolism for as long as one year!
The second way is crash dieting, which can change your body’s make-up.
Let’s say you lose 10 pounds in two weeks. Most of the weight lost will be water, e.g. five pounds, some fat, e.g. three pounds and the other two pounds’ muscle. If you regain the weight, and research has shown that for 95% of people it does, it comes back as fat and water.
Every diet you go on afterward can lead to more muscle loss. Someone who is a chronic dieter may increase their percentage of body fat over time from 25% to 35-40%. Surprisingly, your scale may not show a lot of weight change.
Muscle burns up more calories than fat and muscle keeps you leaner. Chronic dieting makes you lose a large percentage of muscle. It’s this yo-yo effect of losing and regaining weight that can harm the body. It’s better never to have dieted at all than to keep losing and regaining the same 10-20 pounds.
Lifestyle change for longer-term results
Instead of looking at dieting as a way of losing and maintain weight, adopting healthy eating habits and food choices, and a more active lifestyle is a better bet for longer-term results.
- Take a look at how you eat and exercise every day.
- Remove the notion that a diet is something you can do for a month and afterward you can go back to your old habits.
- Make short- and long-term goals to change your lifestyle to incorporate healthier food choices and to be more active.
What I’ve learned through my nutrition studies is that you’ll also be closer to achieving a permanent weight change by focusing on the quality of your diet and exercise habits.
Talk to a registered dietitian or nutritionist for healthy eating choices specific to your needs.
What are your thoughts about dieting? If you have had success dieting, what have you found works for you?