Why We Don’t Do Diets
Let’s be honest, ‘dieting’ seriously sucks. How often have you tried to start a diet only to find that two days later you’re back to eating how you were previously? When I think of diets,
I think of some 6 week program that’s boring, restrictive, unmaintainable and probably unhealthy too.
Knowing how to lose weight can be pretty difficult these days. Especially with all of the media hype about the newest superfood or the newest diet trending (keto anyone?). I think we’re all guilty of trying out a few of these ridiculous diets at one point or another. It could be cabbage soup, celery juice, lemon detox, no carbs, high fat, alkaline, shakes or the raw food diet… to name a few.
When we look closely at these diets the mechanisms behind them are all essentially the same.
These fad diets all unnecessarily remove, limit or avoid certain foods, entire food groups or macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats or protein). By doing this we’re forced to consume fewer calories then our body requires, putting us in a calorie deficit, which leads to weight loss. However, the degree in which these calories and foods are limited to is often very unrealistic, unhealthy and unmaintainable. In addition, when we avoid certain foods (or class these foods as ‘off limits’) is when the unhealthy diet mentality appears and we tend to crave these foods more. This may result in binges as we have been avoiding these foods for so long. Rather than classing discretionary foods as off limits all together we can simply consume them in moderation.
Low nutrient foods are part of healthy eating, we just don’t eat them as frequently as high nutrient foods.
Creating a healthier relationship with food, where there are no longer limitations or restrictions is the end goal.
Lack of motivation or ‘will power’ is something that clients often report as being the most difficult aspect of complying with a diet. If you’re feeling this way it probably means that this way of eating isn’t right for you. Creating an eating plan, eating environment and eating schedule that is conducive of one’s goals, lifestyle, food preferences and training schedule is paramount. Losing weight is such an individualised process. So, finding a sustainable way of eating that works for you is crucial.
ATHLETES: It’s important to keep in mind that losing weight may affect our energy levels, and therefore performance, within our chosen sport. This is because in order to lose weight we need to be in an energy deficit. As we won’t have as much fuel in our system to get through our training, this may impair performance over time. In addition, eating in an energy deficit may result in a delayed recovery process as our body doesn’t have that extra nutrition to repair our muscles and replete our glycogen stores at the rate it could if we were eating for performance.
We need to focus on timing our carbohydrate to ensure we maintain performance and consider if it’s the right time within the sporting year to be focusing on a weight loss goal.
Before we jump on board the next trending diet it’s important to determine if it’s a fad or a sustainable diet. So, how do we do this?
If it’s a diet that’s cutting out foods, entire food groups or appears to be very low in energy chances are it’s not going to be sustainable and it isn’t going to be healthy for our mental or physical health.
Tips on how to spot a fad diet:
- Foods or food groups are severely restricted or completely eliminated
- Overall energy (kilo joule/ calorie) intake is drastically reduced
- The claims and outcomes sounds too good to be true
- The diet complies of very ridged unmaintainable rules
- The diet is based around pills, teas, shakes, soups and bars
- The diet lacks credible scientific evidence
- It’s promoted with buzz words or claims such as fat melting, banish belly fat, metabolism boosting and fat burning
A Sports Dietitian will be able to assist you in finding the most healthy and maintainable approach to losing weight for YOU while still being able to sustain your energy levels and performance within your chosen sport.
Jasmine Wayth, Accredited Sports Dietitian