This month, accredited practicing dietitian and sports dietitian Jasmine Wayth from Food Fit For You, goes into detail of the ins and outs of fad diets and the best approach to long term weight loss.
Personally, I highly dislike the word ‘diet’. As a dietitian the word diet always seems to be associated with dietitians. However, these two words couldn't be more different than one another. Seriously though, why does the word dietitian have to contain the word diet in it?
When I think of diets your average 6-week crash diet comes to mind. The kind of diet that we’re made to live off salads and shakes for 6 weeks. Yes, we may lose a lot of weight but give it a few weeks and we will more than likely put it all back on and more. Only to go on another diet again soon after to lose the weight we regained. This vicious cycle is known as ‘yo yo dieting’ and it is by no means a healthy way to lose weight.
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. I think we’re all guilty of trying out a few of these ridiculously unhealthy and unmaintainable diets at one point or another. The cabbage soup diet, the lemon detox diet, the atkins diet, no carb diet, high fat diet, low fat diet, weight watchers, the alkaline diet, shake diets or the raw food diet. Seriously though, props to any one who has lasted more than a few weeks on one of these diets. I’m not too sure how you did it. All of these diets are essentially the same when we look at them closely. They all unnecessarily remove, limit or avoid certain foods, food groups or macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats or protein). By doing this we’re forced to consume fewer calories that our bodies require, putting us in a calories deficit ,which leads to weight loss. However, the degree in which these calories are limited to is often very unrealistic, unhealthy and unmaintainable.
When it comes to losing weight there are no foods, macronutrients or food groups we need to avoid. Avoiding any food or food group in order to lose weight is both unnecessary and unhealthy. Removing foods or food groups means that we are depriving our body of essential nutrients, which can be very detrimental to our health in the long term. Losing weight is actually very simple. We simply need to be in an energy deficit. In other words, we need to be eating less (but only a small amount less) and moving/ exercising more to ensure that overall we’re in an energy deficit. This doesn't mean that we need to remove carbs or dairy or fats though. It simply means that overall we need to be consuming a little less of everything.
Does that mean I can still eat some chocolate or the slice of cake every now and then while I’m trying to lose weight? Yes, it sure does.
When we avoid foods or class them as off limits is when that unhealthy diet mentality appears. When we classify these foods as off limits is when we tend to crave them more. Often resulting in binges because we have been avoiding them for so long. Rather than classing discretionary foods as off limits all together we can simply consume them in moderation. This way we can create that healthy relationship with food and know that we can consume chocolate in moderate when we desire it. I often find that when we know we can have it we usually don't eat as much of it. When you were a child did you mum ever tell you to not to touch something in the supermarket or to not hit your sister? Chances are when someone tells us not to do something we will do the complete opposite. This is the exact same concept when it comes to avoid avoiding foods or putting them in that off limits basket. We’re naturally going to crave them more when we know we know we can’t have them. Looking at our food intake vegetables, fruits, lean meats/ proteins, low fat dairy and whole grains should make up 80% of our food consumption. This saves 20% for that chocolate, cake or pizza that your taste buds desire. This is a much healthier approach to weight loss.
So, what’s the rush when it comes to weight loss? We’re all aiming to lose X amount of weight in time for our friends wedding in X weeks but deep down we know that this way of eating isn’t healthy, maintainable or realistic is any way.
Statistics show that the slower we lose weight the more likely we are to keep it off, the more likely we are to maintain our muscle, comply with this way of eating and the healthier it is for our body too. So, when it comes to weight loss slow and steady really does win the race.
Rather than jumping on board the next fad diet we just need to focus on reducing our portion sizes of our meals and snacks, aim to be a little more physically active and aim to change our lifestyle by implementing health habits within our everyday life. This lifestyle change is not only going to benefit our health, assist with weight loss but it’s also going to be something that we can continue with for the long term. So, the best diet for weight loss really is not to be on one at all.
Jasmine is a Perth based accredited practicing dietitian and sports dietitian with a passion for helping both athletes and active individuals work towards their health and fitness goals. For more details head to Jasmine’s Instagram @foodfit_foryou.