Fad diets are everywhere you look in January. But, they’re just one of the many weight loss traps you should avoid this New Year.
The start of a new year comes with it a couple of extra kilos courtesy of the festive season. Unsurprisingly, as soon as January 1st hits, endless advertisements for that miracle weight loss cure appear everywhere we look. Be it a pill, shake or supplement, all are offering miracle weight loss results with minimal effort. While deep down most of us know that these weight loss fads aren’t doing our waistlines (or health) any favours, we’ll still succumb to their amazing claims. We’ll tell ourselves that if we just lose a few kilos quickly, then we’ll improve our eating habits and exercise regularly because already lose a few kilos will make it easier and we’ll be more motivated to continue on our weight loss quest. We equate instant results with success, but forget that real success doesn’t happen over night (or in a week). It comes with hard work, discipline and commitment. Anyone can lose weight, but the real challenge is keeping it off and making sure we stay healthy in the process. Remember, a lower body weight doesn’t necessarily equate to better health.
Jumping onboard a fad diet in a bid to lose weight, is the worst thing you can do. These diets may promote fast weight loss, but usually have very little effect on body fat. The initial weight lost on a fad diet is mostly water and lean muscle mass (not something you want to lose seeing the more muscle you have, the more energy you burn). When very little food is eaten, the body begins to break down muscle to meet kilojoule needs. See, using protein as an energy source occurs more easily than breaking down fat stores. Breaking down muscle leads to a loss of water, creating the illusion of rapid weight loss as shown on the scales, while it also reduces our metabolic rate. Once we stop the diet, a lower metabolic rate makes it easier to gain body fat and as result most people regain the weight they lost plus more. Do enough fad diets, and before long you may actually diet yourself fatter!
Another point that must be mentioned about the problematic fad diet is that they only encourage a short-term change in eating patterns, instead promoting and maintaining long-term lifestyle changes. Many of us expect amazing body transformations without changing our lifestyles over the long-term. We continue to make poor food choices, eat too much, neglect our sleep, skip the exercise, drink too much alcohol and stay sedentary for extended periods of time. If we follow a fad diet for a couple of weeks and then resort back to these same lifestyle habits, our weight will rebound just as fast as we lost it and stay there. So, to really make an impact on your weight, there’s no easy weight loss solution – it requires commitment, discipline and patience.
Fad diets however, are not the only trap we fall into when we jump on the weight loss bandwagon. Here are four more weight loss traps to look our for:
- Rewarding yourself with food: Ever find that you’re bargaining with yourself? Telling yourself that if you lose a 1kg this week you’ll indulge in your favourite ice cream or chocolate? Or perhaps you reward yourself with coffee and a mega muffin after a hard training session? These are two common scenarios I see all the time, but unfortunately using food as a reward makes it hard to achieve your goals. Food should be used to nourish the body, not to reward ourselves for “being good” or for “achieving our goals”. The best reward you can give yourself is to be kind. Think of things that actually make you feel good – having a massage, relaxing and reading a book, a bit of retail therapy or going to the movies. The rewards list is endless, just make sure food or eating doesn’t feature on your list.
- Assuming ‘good’ kilojoules don’t count: Avocados, wholegrains, fruit, plant-based oils and yoghurt are all fantastic food choices, but just because their nutritious doesn’t make them kilojoule free. We need to keep the amount of food we eat in check with the amount of energy we burn, because if we eat more than we burn, we’ll gain weight irrespective of whether the kilojoules are from healthy foods or junk foods. Control your portion sizes and make sure your keep as active as you can throughout the day.
- Eating when you’re stressed: Work deadlines, financial concerns and family issues are just some of the many things that can send stress levels through the roof and before we know it we’ve hoeing into packets of potato crisps, bags if lollies or bars of chocolate. These foods leave us feeling sluggish and fatigued, making it more likely that we’ll make more poor food choices. Control your stress levels by including all things healthy. Take the time to exercise, plan and prepare healthy meals, and allow ourself time to relax. Maintaining these habits is the best way to healthily get through high-pressure situations.
- We don’t fuel our body: Many weight loss diets say to ditch the carbs and up the exercise and by doing this you’ll definitely lose a bit of weight. But, it’s not the type of weight you want to lose and before long you’ll notice feelings of fatigue, poor recovery after training and sugar cravings as your body longs for some fuel. Carbohydrates fuel your body for exercise and while you don’t need to eat massive amounts, it’s vital that you don’t exclude them from your diet. Choose minimally processed varieties and make sure after a training session you recover with a snack or meal (depending on the time of day) containing protein and carbohydrates. This will help you get more from your training session and still give you your weight loss results.
What dieting trap have you falling into?