We live in a diet-obsessed world. Every day more and more fad diets are being introduced, books are being published, and the latest supplements are being marketed. However, the question is if these trends really work then why do we need more?
With 45 million Americans dieting each year and most people failing at those diets, we are left with the daunting question of why diets fail?
Now, it’s not entirely true that nothing about dieting will give you results. The restrictive program of eating to lose weight can help you shed some extra pounds here and there. However, you cannot expect to live your entire life in such a setup. In fact, one of the main reasons why diet fails is because they are structured around deprivation.
You are being instructed to eat only one thing and leave the other. This suppressed approach doesn’t necessarily serve you well, and you end up quitting it sooner than you think. So, what is the sustainable way of losing weight? Also, what are we missing in this puzzle of dieting? Let’s uncover the truth in this post.
What is Diet, its origin and background?
The word “diet” was invented in ancient Greece. In the original context, “diaita” was meant to represent an entire way of living with food, drinking, lifestyle and exercise changes. The primary purpose of this word wasn’t to eat certain foods to achieve weight loss but to create a healthy lifestyle. However, nobody can explain when and how we started the culture of dieting around deprivation and what weight loss standards we are trying to live up to. Since then many celebrities have rolled out diets, there is an infinite number of fad diets on google right now that promises you weight loss and much more. In the next section, let’s break down some popular diets and what they have to offer to us?
Different types of diets in the market today
There are different types of diets targeting different kind of concerns in the market today. There is Ketogenic diet for the ones who love fats & protein, paleo for the nature lovers and intermittent fasting for the ones who don’t like food restrictions but are happy to let go of some bad habits.
The dieting process disconnects you from listening to the needs of your body and choosing for yourself.
What is it?
Keto or Ketogenic diet is high fat, moderate protein and low-carb diet that helps you burn fat more effectively. The word “Keto” in the ketogenic diet refers to the small fuel molecules that your body produces called “ketones“. Ketones are a fuel source for your organism when blood sugar is in short supply. They are produced when you eat fewer carbs and moderate amounts of protein. Your body produces ketones from fat which then serve a fuel throughout the body, especially for the brain. Your brain requires a lot of energy to function properly every day, and it can only run on glucose or ketones.
When you are on a ketogenic diet, your body switches its fuel supply to run mostly on fat because you will be eating more fats. So, when your insulin levels go down, fat burning increases drastically. It’s an excellent diet if you are trying to lose weight. As accessing your fat stores and burning it off becomes pretty easy in this particular process.
This diet process makes your body enter a metabolic state called ketosis. The fastest way to achieve that state would be to starve yourself, but that’s not a sustainable thing to do. Hence, with a ketogenic diet, you eat moderately and also see the results in ketosis. There are many benefits of a keto diet, read them below:
Benefits of the Keto Diet:
- Weight loss: Your body requires more work to do to convert fat into energy than it needs to convert carbs into energy. Therefore, a ketogenic diet can definitely accelerate weight loss.
- Reduces Acne: Acne is caused because of various reasons, but one can relate this problem to diet and blood sugar for sure. When you consume a diet high in carbohydrates or processed products, your gut health can cause fluctuations to your skin health. Moreover, by decreasing your levels of carbohydrate intake, you can positively improve your skin.
- Improved brain function: Many studies are revealing that a “Ketogenic” diet is beneficial for the brain. One research suggests that children following the ketogenic diet had improved cognitive functioning. One of the significant causes of fatigue or low performance of the brain is Neurological inflammation which is also linked with depression and anxiety. A ketogenic diet helps in reducing the unnecessary inflammation in the body and improved mental abilities.
The ketogenic diet has many benefits, but one must also understand that there are various consequences of following this diet. Here are some disadvantages of Ketogenic diet –
- Requires adaptation process: When you are transitioning from feeding your body carbs to a high-fat diet, it can resist the change. Many people go through what is referred to as “Keto flu” which has flu-like symptoms because you are directing your organism to change its energy supply source suddenly. Many people find it very uncomfortable and may show symptoms like headache, nausea or fatigue.
- Increased risk of Diabetes and heart disease: Some people use the “keto” diet as an excuse to eat more butter and bacon. Without the guidance of a nutritionist or a doctor, they may increase the levels of cholesterol they are consuming which can increase the risk of diabetes.
- Nutritional deficiency: Because the keto diet is very restricted, you do not consume many foods that help your body with other nutrition and vitamins. You consume less dietary fiber and other sources of antioxidants.
What is it?
A paleo diet is also referred to be the “caveman” diet because it suggests eating food which might have been consumed during the Paleolithic era, dating approximately 2.5 million years ago. To put it simply, the paleo diet is the diet our grand-grand-grand parents subscribed to. This diet aims to return to the way of eating which is genetically matched to our bodies because modern farming practices are contributing more to disease and health concerns.
Here are some of the benefits of the Paleo diet:
- Clean eating: Paleo diet promotes eating foods that are naturally available and completely eliminate a whole range of processed, sugar-rich, artificially-colored products. As a result, you consume clean and real foods which are rich in nutrition and antioxidants. Moreover, when you eat clean, you feel great.
- Reduce bloating: A paleo diet provides you with natural foods, lots of fiber and adequate H20 along with smaller intake of sodium. It also helps to decrease bloat when compared to other western diets. This diet also contributes to improving your gut flora, in turn improving digestion.
- Reduced Inflammation: Inflammation of any kind in the body triggers many health concerns. Especially when there is inflammation around our digestive tract, it can cause increased sensitivity in the immune system. This leads to allergies, asthma and more problems. With paleo diet emphasizing on eating natural and clean, it eliminates four major inflammation culprits such as sugar, alcohol, dairy, and gluten.
Disadvantages of the Paleo diet:
With the Paleo diet, calorie counting method is somewhat flexible, but the segmentation of good and bad foods can negatively impact your health. Here are some of the dangers of choosing a paleo diet:
- Calcium and Vitamin D Deficiency: Paleo diet recommends eating certain foods and completely discarding diary which can lead to calcium deficiency. Impacting your bone health, muscle function and blood vessels negatively, this way of eating may not serve you long term.
- It’s expensive: Paleo diet promotes eating a great deal of nuts and meats which can be rather costly to buy than eating grains and beans.
- Not suitable for vegetarians and athletes: This diet is difficult for vegetarians because the only source of protein is red meat and athletes cannot get enough source of carbohydrates.
What is it:
Intermittent fasting is one of the most popular trends in the fitness world. The fact that it doesn’t specify what foods you should eat but “when” you should eat, makes it pretty easy to adopt. The simple way of changing your pattern of eating is helping people to lose weight and stay healthy. Common intermittent fasting involves a 16 hour fasting period. Let’s look at the benefits of intermittent fasting:
- Much easier than simply dieting: With most diets, the problem is not what we eat but our behavior towards eating. We fail to commit and make changes for the long term, with intermitting fasting you are addressing the behavior change first. It’s an effective strategy to lose weight because by making you eat fewer meals, it can automatically reduce your calorie intake.
- Growth hormone increases: Human growth hormone is a crucial hormone produced by the pituitary gland. It plays a pivotal role in body growth, composition, cell repair, and metabolism. With intermittent fasting, the levels of HGH increases and as much as 5-fold which has various benefits.
- Gene Changes: intermittent fasting affects the function of genes related to longevity and fighting against disease.
- Getting Hangry: Changing your behavior pattern with intermittent fasting can be quite tricky especially if you like to eat many snacks throughout the day. When you fast for more extended hours, you tend to become agitated, low on energy and change the mechanism of how your body uses energy.
- Negative impact on overall health: People on intermittent fasting may suffer from adverse consequences such as hormonal imbalances. Women may have irregular menstrual cycles and fertility issues. This can also lead to increased stress, insomnia and thyroid problems.
- Not sustainable: Intermittent fasting is hard to stick around for the long-term. Due to the fact that it requires you to exercise self-control it can be difficult especially in social gatherings and fast for an extended period. You may end up quitting the process, and it’s not something everyone can easily adapt.
So, why diets don’t work?
As we looked at various popular diets and walked through their many benefits and disadvantages, one thing to highlight is that these diets focus on short term goals and not long term commitments. The fact is that weight loss programs will work for 95% people but as soon as they quit it, they are back to square one, and it happens because of the following reasons:
- Commitment Issues: People who choose to diet approach it with a short-term mindset and not as a life-long commitment. They don’t understand that a healthy lifestyle requires commitment, you can lose fat with dieting, but you won’t be able to sustain the results for long. Committing to learning about nutrition and making your own healthy choices is the only way to lead a healthy lifestyle. However, because it requires effort and many people have unrealistic expectations of dieting, they fail at it.
- Sustainability Issues: A sustainable diet promotes healthy weight loss, good health and prevention from chronic disease throughout your life. When you choose a particular diet, you are restricting your options and creating a pattern which is bound to fail. There can be many reasons behind it such as, your diet can be expensive, you crave certain things or your social life doesn’t support your choices, etc. When you have such concerns along with following a particular diet, you cannot take it up for the long term.
- Diets are restrictive in nature: There is no magic pill for weight loss, but that’s not what these diet brands are promoting. They emphasize on how you can instantly change your life by following a restrictive way of eating. They trap you into the vicious circle of hopping from one diet to another. With any diet, there are rules, and human beings aren’t wired to follow the rules. We like freedom, we are social animals and when that freedom is taken away from us, we don’t like it.
The dieting process disconnects you from listening to the needs of your body and choosing for yourself. They don’t free you from the foods you crave; in fact, they make you anxious about the calories you may consume. It even triggers unnecessary guilt and takes away the fun of social gatherings.
The only sustainable way of eating or living a healthy lifestyle is to make your own choices in a balanced way. When you educate yourself about how food impacts your health, your sleep and the overall quality of your life; you have the right perspective. You exercise control; you choose what to eat, when to nudge that cookie, when to drink and when to avoid it. Your life choices are in your hands and with awareness of nutrition, you architect the right mindset. To learn more about mindset principles you should adopt to lead a healthier life, DOWNLOAD your free ebook here.