While this isn’t my normal type of article for this blog I thought it might be important to highlight the dangers of fad diets, many people follow them, many people go on huge calorie deficits and many people who just can’t get the result they want even though they are eating so little. I see a lot of clients who have joined the likes of weight watchers and slimming world, juice plus, herbalife and other crazy diet trends, or as I like to call them FADS.
I am about to tell you exactly why these types of ‘diets’ should be avoided at all costs. These diets are not a healthy way to lose weight. But also bear in mind that these are businesses that thrive off of you coming back.
Firstly, anything that uses a shake to replace a meal is ridiculous. Could you imagine actually eating food instead? What…? Food…? Yeah, right! Yep, instead of drinking something resembling a milk shake you could actually fill your stomach with food, a burger maybe? Wowzers!
Secondly have a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and eat a sensible meal that contains around 500 calories for dinner. woo hoo, actual food finally. But wait a minute… each shake is 200 calories maximum and my dinner is 500 calories, so that means I’m eating 900 calories a day, well that’s that sorted then, I am totally going to lose weight on this diet!… Ummmm, weight yes, fat no I’m afraid. Sorry to burst your bubble here, but your body NEEDS a certain amount of calories to actually function. A 2 year old should be eating 1200 calories a day. So yeah, a 2 year old is eating more than you.
Thirdly, weight watchers and slimming world. You will find that all is good when you start with these diets, you go along to your meeting, stand on the scale in front of the woman ‘who has lost 75 stone on the same diet’ who patronisingly writes down this weeks weight and then tells you if it’s a thumbs up or a big sad face and asks you what’s happened this week. You spend all day counting syns or points and making sure you don’t go over, but it’s great because you only pay £5 per week and you get to eat chocolate cake because the syns allow you to. You’re actually losing weight week on week. Awesome, and for those who have a lot of excess I can’t argue that these programmes do work and have their place. But a majority of people who use these groups ‘just want to get rid of the last stone’ ‘lose the flabby arms and belly’ So you start going along… BUT where is this weight coming from? Because you look smaller but you still have flabby arms, and flabby thighs and your stomach isn’t very ‘toned’ like you thought it would be with the weight loss. In fact… you still look… well, a bit wobbly! But you’re skinny now, so why do you still have a lot of fat?
Let me explain exactly what happens with ALL of these diets.
Your body, without the excess fat you want to get rid of, needs a certain amount of calories. Let’s just say that in this instance it is 1800 calories. (yeah…more than any of the diets allow anyway probably)
Now let’s add on the excess fat that you are carrying, which means your body now needs more calories, let’s say another 400 calories. So in total you need to eat 2200 calories in order to STAY THE SAME WEIGHT.
So now let’s go on our fad diet. You reduce your calorie intake. You lose a few pounds the first few weeks, great. Now you need to eat even less to keep on losing weight. What’s happening? Yes you’ve lost weight but you’re destroying your metabolism, while you have lost some fat, you have put yourself at such a calorie deficit you’re no longer eating enough to sustain the ‘healthy 1800 calorie you’, underneath the fat, so what happens is your body starts to use the muscle as an energy source because it’s a more efficient way of getting fuel than converting fat. This weight loss then becomes fat loss AND muscle loss. This muscle loss is coming from the ‘healthy 1800 calorie you.’ So the ‘1800 calorie you’ now becomes a 1600 calorie you, which is no longer a healthy person. So as well as losing muscle you are undernourished, you are deprived and you are depleting yourself of energy sources.
Why’s it such a bad thing that I’ve lost muscle? Firstly, muscle burns 3x more calories than fat. So basically by taking away the muscle you are making yourself less and less efficient at burning fat.
Secondly, muscle weighs more than fat, so if you have lost weight, how much is fat and how much is muscle? By losing muscle mass you are upping your weight loss but not your fat loss.
Thirdly, What is taking the place of muscle? Nothing. Nothing is filling the space where the muscle should be. So now you just have skin surrounding fat which is wobbling all over the place, theres no tightness in fat, but there’s tightness in muscle. You NEED muscle to be successful in fat loss.
Because your metabolism has slowed down, any calorie surplus you now eat, you’re body will begin to store it. As what? Fat! This is why people go around and around in circles with these diets. Once they have hit their ‘target weight’ they start eating normally again. and thus put weight back on, but this time it is actually fat, not muscle of any sort. So now you’re gaining more fat than before. And the process starts over again.
So what is the answer?
Just eat! I’m not talking about the online takeaway company, I mean just eat food. Don’t count syns, or points, just learn what a balanced diet is. Don’t deprive your body of what it actually NEEDS, make sure you are exercising to maintain your muscle mass. Step away from the ‘healthy’ bars and biscuits, they’re loaded with sugar, any food that shouts about being low in fat or sugar on the packet is hiding something somewhere else. These diets do not educate people on how to eat. They simply make you think that they work, when the truth is, they don’t.