How ‘diets’ are ruining our health

In a recent Facebook poll (via FMH Fitness), 64 woman voted as to whether they had in their life been on some sort of diet (whether that be WW, SW, Atkins, Cambridge, Juicing, Keto etc). 81% of those women said yes.

In a recent study published in April 2019, a study suggested that 1 in 5 deaths globally are caused by poor diet. “In 2017, more deaths were caused by diets with too low amounts of foods such as whole grains, fruit, nuts and seeds than by diets with high levels of foods like trans fats, sugary drinks, and high levels of red and processed meats” – [1]

When someone wants to lose weight, I’m almost certain that the majority would say ‘I need to go on a diet’, rather than ‘I need to change my lifestyle’. In a world where diet pills and meal replacement shakes are available at the click of a button, it is easy to see how those who don’t have an understanding of nutrition would want to choose the ‘easy option’.

People who choose ‘diets’ over ‘lifestyle changes’ often see very quick results. Why? Because some of these diets put people into huge calorie deficits. Keto for example – you’re eliminating carbohydrates from your daily intake. On average, your daily carbohydrates intake should be around 50-60%. Eliminate this and you’re cutting a lot of calories. Meal replacement shakes? Again, you’re cutting a lot of calories. The problem with the diets is A) you are potentially missing out on some major macro and micronutrients that your body requires, leading to poor health as stated above, and B) as soon as you start eating ‘normally’ again, I can almost guarantee you will put the weight back on because you will no longer be in a calorie deficit.

My advice for anyone looking to lose weight and sustain it:

  1. Track your food and exercise through My Fitness Pal to ensure that you are in a calorie deficit
  2. Focus on high protein foods (for muscle repair and reducing hunger levels)
  3. Put more focus onto adding healthier & more nutritious foods into your diet, rather than focusing on what you need to take away
  4. Move more

In my opinion, someone should only be on a ‘diet’ if there is a medical reason for doing so (for example, I recently followed a Low FODMAP diet due to symptoms of IBS). The absolute best thing anyone can do who is wanting to lose weight is to make gradual and sustainable lifestyle changes. Drink more water, eat more fruit and veg, have one takeaway a week instead of two, go for a walk, participate in a sport – any of these things are much more likely to give you long-term results, instead of making yourself miserable on an unhealthy and restrictive diet.

References

[1]: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/04/190403193702.htm

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