AdviceFitnessHealthScience

HOW DO LOW CALORIE DIETS REALLY WORK?

Hello and welcome to my very first blog where I will attempt to present you with some facts about dieting.  I strongly believe that today’s weight loss industry is misleading so many of us in to believing that losing weight and transforming our lives can easily be achieved through some ‘quick-fix’ fad or diet plan!  Whilst in the short term this may well work for some, I want to provide you with the evidence to demonstrate that in reality it is unsustainable and will not lead to eternal happiness!  Come on…what is a life without bread or chocolate?  Certainly not one I would choose… But what if I told you that you can and absolutely should still enjoy all the things you love whilst achieving your body goals?  My ultimate aim is to simplify the science, clear the fog and guide you towards a more balanced, informed approach to nutrition.  Remember that your diet is your choice so make it an intelligent one that offers a longer, happier and healthier life.

So lets start by looking at how some of society’s most popular diets work:

Taken from myoleanfitness.com, 2017
Can you see the common theme here?  There is no magical reason why intermittent fasting is better than the ketogenic diet, they all work by creating a calorie deficit.  In other words if you eat less calories than your body is consuming, the law of thermodynamics means you will lose weight.  For optimal health there are of course other things to consider such as food quality, macronutrient balance and, dare I say it, genetics does play a part – not everyone can and should be skinny.  However we are ‘not slaves to our genetic set points’ (Steven novella) but let’s discuss that in another blog….
So I hope we agree that if you consume fewer calories than you burn (this can also be achieved by increasing exercise), fat loss will occur.  It is a simple equation of calories in vs calories out (CICO) as opposed to that amazing, fantastic, all singing and dancing new diet programme you are following!  It really is simple science:
Now we have established this, I think it is important to highlight how recent research shows that contemporary dieting often does not work.  When compared over time, each diet analysed was very difficult to stick to:
So whilst these diet approaches work initially, over time the weight creeps back on because people cannot adhere to their structure and/or rigidity.  In other words, they do not match our lifestyles and can lead to sporadic or ‘yoyo’ dieting.  This more often than not has a huge emotional and physical impact that over time simply isn’t worth it.
Furthermore, a recent meta-analysis that compared high and low carbohydrate diets concluded that there was no real difference in weight loss.  So basically no single, contemporary diet has the edge over another, it all comes down to adherence and consistency.
In conclusion, weight loss or control over time is difficult but not impossible.  As Steve Novella puts it ‘long term weight control requires sustainable strategies not quick fixes and not magical diets’.  So find an approach that works for you over a period of time.  Don’t restrict the things you enjoy, life is far too short for that!  In fact research suggests that people who heavily restrict in the short term, gain more in the long term than those who take a more gradual approach.  This is because psychologically we always want what we cannot have so will eventually binge on our self-proclaimed ‘forbidden’ foods.  It is all about finding a balance and giving yourself permission to love life!  Again I am going off on another tangent, so I will end with a few sensible diet recommendations:
1.     find something that works for you and you can see yourself continuing a year from now
2.     include adequate protein
3.     make nutritious food choices wherever possible –follow the 80/20 rule
4.     move more!
5.     give yourself permission to enjoy food
6.     learn to love yourself!!!
I hope you have enjoyed this blog, please leave me some feedback and get in touch with any questions  😊