4 Reasons Why Dieting is Detrimental
What do you think of when you hear the word “diet?”
Limited, restricted and deprived
Hungry, irritable and unsatisfied
Low energy, tired and weight loss
Short-term and rebound weight gain
Hate is a strong word, so I’ll say that I loathe the word “diet,” not for what it literally means, but because of all the negative thoughts and feelings that come along with it.
The original, simple, and my favorite definition of diet is…”the kinds of food that a person, animal or community habitually eats.” For example, “I eat a Paleo diet.”
But the word “diet” is more widely known, referred to and defined as…”a special course of food to which one restricts oneself, either to lose weight or for medical reasons.” For example: “I’m going on a diet.”
The ways in which you relate to the word “diet” can be detrimental to your health.
Most “diet” programs fail because they focus on what NOT to eat, which can make you feel deprived and unsatisfied, leading you to eventually give in to temptations due to the lack of pleasure. With this approach you typically lose some weight, but immediately rebound and put it right back on after you stop “dieting” or when you give in to temptations.
Dieting can become an endless and vicious cycle – making it harder to lose weight, or keep it off each time you dive into a diet, until eventually it just doesn’t work for you anymore.
I was a serial calorie-cutter and dieter for a long time. Back in the day, I restricted myself to 1500 calories a day (or less) and turned up my exercise intensity during the week so I could have my “cheat” meals on the weekend. I even trained for fitness shows which required ridiculous and meticulous diets regiments, but the weight loss and results were never long-term.
Over time it got harder and harder to maintain my weight, even with calorie restriction.
Most of my clients have had a similar experience, trying diet after diet with little to no success or only getting short-term results. They’ve counted endless calories, dabbled in the Whole30, Atkins, Paleo, Keto, you name it.
Aside from the well known yo-yo dieting struggles and side effects, there’s a lot more going on under the hood when you’re dieting that can be detrimental to your long term health.
In this week’s video and blog, I share with you 4 reasons why dieting is detrimental to your long-term health and weight, and how to find the right diet for you.
No one ever really talks about the long-term results or side effects of dieting. All you ever see in diet product marketing campaigns and in the media are sexy slogans such as “lose 7 pounds in 7 days.”
What happens after 7 days?
Or a better question might be, “what is really happening to your body during those 7 days?”
Let’s explore 4 things that are happening to your body when dieting, which could be detrimental to your long-term health and weight.
#1 – Increased Cortisol Output
Drastic or abrupt changes in your diet, such as calorie restriction, can really stress the body out. Cortisol is the hormone released when we encounter any type of physical, emotional or environmental stress. An increase in cortisol output is directly related to fat accumulation around the midsection (that “spare tire” effect), and it can block progesterone leading to estrogen dominance and weight gain. Prolonged increases in cortisol output can lead to adrenal dysfunction resulting in chronic fatigue, thyroid imbalances, depression, anxiety, poor sleep and a slew of other health issues.
#2- Reduced Thyroid Function
A study published by the American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism showed a 50% reduction of thyroid hormone T4 and 25% reduction of thyroid hormone T3 into cells with overweight individuals who were dieting, resulting Intracellular Hypothyroidism. The thyroid rules our metabolism and ability to lose weight. The findings of this study show just out counterproductive and detrimental “dieting” can be to long-term health and weight. Not only can dieting reduce thyroid function while you’re on a diet, but its negative impact on thyroid function can take weeks, months or even years to reverse, especially if you’ve been yo-yo dieter. I often wonder how much of a role my previous dieting played in my Hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s diagnosis.
#3- Lowered Testosterone
Testosterone plays a vital role in building and maintaining muscle mass, and therefore weight maintenance. The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate is and the easier it is to keep the fat off. Some studies have shown how long-term calorie restriction has lowered testosterone in men, even when adequate nutrition is in place. This puts women at even more of a disadvantage when dieting considering the already lower levels of testosterone levels (in comparison to men) making muscle building or maintenance, and therefore fat loss, more of a challenge.
#4 – Psycho-Social Impacts
What’s the first thing you fear before going on a diet? FOMO! Fear of missing out! You think about all the happy hour invites you’ll have to dodge, the social gatherings you’ll miss and the dates nights you’ll postpone until after your diet. But you probably don’t know just how important those social engagements are to your health. Laughing, hugging, physical touch and socializing releases a hormone called Oxytocin. This “love”, or “cuddle”, hormone is also a powerful anti-stress hormone that lowers cortisol, blood pressure, and the fear response. It also increases feelings of trust, empathy and positive thinking, which prevent anxiety and depression.
Dieting might seem like a good idea in the moment when you just need to lose 5 or 10 pounds, but stop and think about how hard it will be later to lose the weight or the what health issues you might run into in the future as a side effect.
It’s time to shift your focus onto what diet is right for you- one that you can habitually eat, it’s realistic, sustainable and produces long-term results.
First, find the foods that give you the most energy. Those are the ones to focus on. You can do this by tapping into your body’s own intelligence to understand which foods are right for you.
How do you know when a food is right for you body?
When you eat foods that are right for your body, you will feel more motivated, uplifted, positive and able to make supportive choices for yourself which are in alignment with your health goals rather than destructive ones. Your energy will be even and you should be able to go 3-5 hours without feeling hungry or needing to snack.
When you tap into this natural intuition around food that your body holds, it makes it much easier to naturally choose foods that lift you up and support your ideal health, and weight.
Keep in mind, there is a difference between eating “healthy” and eating right for your body. Eating right for your body will include healthy foods, but not all healthy foods are right for your body.
So don’t be fooled because a food appears apparently healthy or because you’ve heard or read somewhere that it is. Tune into your body and find the truth.
If you want to get your hands on the right lab tests and resources to understand what food is right for your body, to test and not guess, simply schedule a complimentary Ideal Health & Weight Discovery Session with me today here!