28 May Fad Diets
I am very pleased to be covering the most frustrating and backwards phenomenon I know of in the health and fitness industry for my first ‘nutrition’ blog. Fad diets.
One of the first things I want you to process before you read this blog is this: the ‘diet industry’ is not there to help us lose weight, this is not why they exist. These companies exist for the same reason all companies do – to make money.
How many fad diets have you tried?
Just think about it for a second, how many of these fad diets have you tried? Are you the same weight or heavier than before you started these diets? Statistics strongly suggest you will be heavier. How did you feel when doing them? Again, statistics would suggest you would have felt terrible; moody, with no energy and with a poor sleeping pattern. So why do we do them? That is something I cannot definitively answer. Though my educated guess is that we are an increasingly lazy country that is just looking for a quick fix. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t work like that. If it took you five years to put on five stone, you simply cannot then lose it in a matter of months (in a natural and healthy way).
My clients often talk to me about diets that are going around their workplace looking for my opinion on them. I am amazed by what I hear. One of the more recent ones I was told about is the Aloe Vera diet – this is a diet in which you just consume Aloe Vera for 30 days. It is madness. Especially when you consider that you are paying £120 for a plant-based product you can get for a fiver elsewhere. (refer back to my point about making money).
Now I think it’s important here to mention that you WILL lose weight by doing any of these diets. However not for the reasons that are sold to you. You lose weight because you’re in a caloric deficit (you expend more calories than you consume) it’s irrelevant whether that deficit comes from a low carb diet, low-fat diet or even an ‘ 800 calories for three days a week’ diet. The fact of the matter is you’re eating less food so of course, you will lose weight.
What type of weight are you losing?
Let’s delve a little bit into that weight you lose on these diets. Firstly, you will lose what we call ‘water weight’. When you cut your caloric intake to a lower level than usual, your body uses up its glycogen (energy) stores. Glycogen holds onto water, so when it is burned for energy, the water also disappears. There are about 4 grammes of water per gram of glycogen, so this ends up being quite a lot of weight. Have you ever wondered why you lose a ridiculous amount of weight in that first week of dieting?. You will notice that you probably don’t look any different after that first week of dieting, despite being 1-3 kg’s lighter.
After a couple of weeks of dieting, and dependant on how high your protein intake is, you may also start to atrophy (lose muscle mass). The likelihood is that if your calories are low, your protein will be low as well because protein = calories. For example, if you are on the aloe vera diet, 5:2 diet or Slimfast, then you definitely won’t be getting enough protein.
So yes you have lost weight, water weight and muscle mass. Brilliant! So what about the fat? Isn’t that what you actually wanted to lose in the first place? After a few weeks of these diets you realise you’re not really losing fat, and In the worst case scenarios, you have lost muscle mass as well so ultimately look worse. What does all this lead to? RELAPSE!!!! And what do we do when we relapse? Eat loads of food that your body is now going to store because it has been starved for such a long time. Oh no, you have done it again, you’re now heavier than you were when you started this diet.
What is so frustrating these days is that the media has so much influence on everyone and I am afraid to say that we are all quite naïve and believe a lot of what we read. Companies know they can exploit this by selling them almost anything.
Let’s be honest. We all know that fad diets are unhealthy, make you feel terrible and quite simply don’t work. But in the modern day, we are lazy and always looking for fast results. If you want to lose 10 pounds then you just have to get off your arse and do it the proper way (go to the gym and eat lots of healthy, nutrient-rich food), because the only way the weight will come off – and stay off – is like that. Time to wise up people, stop feeding the wealth of these corrupt, money greedy companies that have no regard for morals or their obligation to promote ‘healthy living.’
~ Will / Will Ebsworth PT