ABCs of Nutrition: Say No to Diets

Last week, I offered my mantra for eating well: eat to feel good (not to be skinny). My personal bias is that an obsession over calories and grams of fat and carbs can lead to overeating and excess weight.

How many of you have tried a weight loss diet?

Over the years, there have been a number of diets which have gained mass popularity – including the Atkins Diet, NutriSystem, Ideal Protein Diet and Weight Watchers. Another diet that has gained recent popularity is the Paleo diet; and, in fact, I interviewed Gretchen and Lisa about their positive experiences with it. I even tried the  7-day cabbage soup diet in high school even though I wasn’t overweight at the time.

Many of these well-known diets are popularized by celebrities who look fabulous – with the help of their respective diet, chefs, trainers, beauticians and others. Though I commend them for their success and efforts to help others, their lifestyle may not be realistic for the vast majority of us non-celebs.

And guess what?

The diet and miracle drug industry generates over $160 billion in revenues annually.* If diet companies were truly successful in helping individuals lose and subsequently maintain their body weight, why would these individuals come back for more? The way I see it, if weight-loss diets worked, then the companies making money marketing them would be out of business.

Further proof

Most of the aforementioned diets place restrictions on the amount of one (or more) of the major macronutrients a person should consume — specifically fat, carbohydrates and/or protein. Yet no medical research has proven that cutting out or down on a macronutrient is advantageous for your health.

And one more thing

If you dramatically reduce your caloric intake, your metabolism slows down. Though the magic number varies by person, going below a certain caloric threshold sends your body into starvation mode. The body starts protecting its fat stores and starts using muscle for energy. You then lose muscle mass and your metabolic rate slows down.

And why should you care? When you start “eating normal” again, your baseline metabolic rate decreases, thus reducing the number of calories you are able consume to maintain your body weight.

Keep it off

For some who are severely overweight, weight-loss diets and other extreme measures may be the only option. But for others looking to drop 15 pounds or less, weight-loss diets may be a dead-end road to optimal weight and feeling great. The mere mention of the word “diet” suggests that one day you’ll return to your old ways — or at least different ways. And as everyone knows, it’s much easier to lose body weight than maintain it.

Why not opt for safe and effective healthy habits instead? No miracle products required.

Stay tuned to hear more ABCs of Good Nutrition and you’ll find out more.

Photo courtesy of the Simply7 Facebook page.

*Dr. Robert Lustig – Fat Chance

Melinda Hinson