Crash-dieting in the new year – forget it!
The attraction of the post-holiday crash diet is nothing new. Endless rounds of pies, potatoes, eggnog, wine, and bubbly leave us feeling bloated and stuffed. So we resolve to lose 10 pounds as part of our New Year resolution.
Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), we are not all programmed to be gym-robots living off freshly squeezed juices or super-food smoothies. As February rolls around, the gym regulars stick to their workout routine, while many of us return to our old routine of bad eating habits (chips, crackers, coke, takeout food all the time), not really understanding why we didn't meet our resolution. We feel as though we’ve failed, but we’ve really just been unrealistic.
Recent research (see below) shows that crash-dieting can be very damaging to our bodies (and probably to our minds) and that the biggest outcome associated with crash diets is, in fact, weight gain. We can fully embrace the soup or liquid food diet, and most likely, we will lose weight initially, but at the end of the diet, as we return to eating normally our bodies will put the weight back on.
Why? Because our bodies are designed to conserve energy. If we starve ourselves with dieting, our bodies do everything they can to hang on to the energy they're given. Thus, once we end the crash diet, we regain not only the fat lost, but also add on extra fat to protect ourselves from similar bouts of food restriction. This results in a cycle of weight loss/weight gain often referred to as yo-yo dieting.
And how long can you sustain that soup diet? Say you managed to keep it going for two weeks, and each day you reached a daily calorie deficit of 700 calories; over the course of two weeks, this would add up to 9,800 calories. However, the likelihood of you eating soup for the rest of your life is slim to none.
But by making small, achievable changes you will avoid messing with your metabolism and be more likely to maintain those changes in the long term. If you drank one less sweetened soda a day and managed to do this for 1 year, you would save yourself about 50,700 calories. Or if you walked up the escalator once a day every day for 1 year rather than stand, you would burn about 10,000 additional calories. Small changes like this can make a real difference – you will hardly notice the difference but accumulatively your body benefits hugely.
My final suggestion is to stop fixating on the newest food fad or super-food or one particular vitamin or mineral. Focusing on the cutting edge benefits of coconut oil or a new super-berry to solve all your weight problems will waste time; time that could be spent learning how to prepare fresh, beautiful, healthy dishes that are good for you and for those around you.
The best thing you can do is swap your New Year crash diet with a New Year resolution to take the stress out of eating – enjoy good food and exercise – and remember, small changes can make a huge difference over time! For easy ways to eat healthier and lead a more balanced lifestyle, email me here and lets talk!
Why is gradual weight loss better than a crash diet? Livestrong.com
How crash diets harm your health. National Health Survey, UK.